The Best Place to Survive an Ice Storm

In Christmas of 2012, a year after my family moved to Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, our town was the epicenter of one of the most severe ice storms the Maine coast has seen in recent memory. Temperatures dropped to negative 5 Fahrenheit at night and electricity was out for days as ice encrusted roads and power lines.

Yet while the pipes froze in houses just down the road, the homes in our village stayed warm without power, wood, or fossil fuels. When I returned to my ecovillage home after four and a half days without power, the temperature had only dipped from 68 to a tepid 58.

Built by the architecture firm GO Logic to the renowned Passivhaus standard, Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage homes feature ten-inch walls, triple-pane windows, and enough insulation to lock out winter cold and summer heat. Some homes in the village feature solar electricity and solar hot water as well, with the consequence that they pay negligible utility bills.

Resiliency and cost savings are important, but homes and buildings are responsible for 48 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Our village was also founded to offer a model for living together sustainably.

As climate change activist Bill McKibben said of Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, "Cohousing is to the suburb what the farmer's market is to agribusiness: a powerful challenge reminding us that there are far sounder, and far more beautiful, ways to live our lives."

Learn more about our growing community at MaineCohousing.org.

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Surviving Ice storms

I love that quote by Mill McKibben!

When a freak early snow storm took out our power for four days several years ago, we moved one generator from house to house to keep the freezers full of local harvest from thawing! What a relief that was! Unfortunately our homes were not built to passive house standards in 1993...but built well enough we didn't freeze ourselves or our pipes!