From 2009-2010, we engaged with the Cambridge Cooperative Club Trust to formulate a comprehensive strategy to make the house more sustainable.
The CCC Trust is the entity which owns the property at 64 Wendell St. At this lovely old home, the Cambridge Cooperative Club has resided as a residential cooperative of between 9-13 people since 1963. The Coop has various goals related to environmental responsibility, social justice and community spirit. The members range from recent college graduates to retirees who all share in daily living activities and activist solidarity.
The building has been maintained in a generally good way. Consideration of environmental effects have been incorporated as the house has been well insulated and high-efficiency windows were installed in the 1990s. More could be done and the housemates decided to embark on a broad project to reduce their use of fossil fuels.
The project originated with a simple desire for solar panels on the roof. This became a small component of the broader and more important comprehensive strategy. Better than just generating some renewable energy, the house needed to waste less and be more efficient.
The place would be weatherized in cooperation with the HEET group in Cambridge. The ancient heating system could be replaced with a best-in-class new integrated system. The building needed augmented structural capacity. The walls and roof could be super insulated and a reflective membrane installed. Then solar panels would be appropriate.
This links to a photo-essay of the work as it has been pursued. The end result will be a dramatically reduced utility bill and massively upgraded facility. The cooperative members will also have intensely reduced their ecological footprint. Continual engagement through monthly workshops on other means of becoming more efficient and environmentally responsible have been built into their regular meeting and self-management processes. Their Directed Sustainability Strategy is a model for other residential cooperatives and many small multi-family or other residential properties of this size.