A group of friends sharing a vision of a positive alternative for residential development pooled their resources to create a limited liability corporation (LLC) to finance the development of EcoVillage. They began with an exhaustive search for a suitable piece of land on which to see the community built, and a number of investors toured similarly chartered communities here in the US and in Europe in order to assess best practices in design and governance.
Once the land was identified and feasibility studies concluded, the LLC constellated a blue ribbon panel of experts in sustainable architecture and site planning to create the master site plan and multiple house designs that reflected the commitment to environmentally sensitive building. A group of investors and future residents developed the community's declaration, covenants, and bylaws, as well as architectural and environmental guidelines. These governing documents ensure that people buying into EcoVillage are assured of the ongoing commitment to preserving the charter of the community and the integrity of the land - an essential element to protecting the investment of every EcoVillage homeowner.
Ninety of the original 180 acres were subdivided into 25 smaller hamlet lots (lots 1-25) and three, 10 acre conservation parcels, with over 85% of the 90 acres placed into “permanent open space conservation easement." Home construction began in 2001. A similar development plan was originally envisioned for the second 90 acre section and subdivision approvals from the County were pursued for an additional 25 hamlet lots and 3 conservancy parcels.
To speed up the development and construction of homes, the LLC decided not to be the developer of this section of the property, and with the consent of the EcoVillage Community Association, sought a builder to purchase the 90 acre area, bond for and install the infrastructure (roads, wells, septic and utilities) and build homes on a “spec” basis. The infrastructure installation and the house plans and construction would all still be subject to meeting the Architectural and Environmental Guidelines. Although several proposals from builders were made, the builders were not prepared to construct to the rigor of the Architectural and Environmental Guidelines. Then it was suggested by several members of the EcoVillage Community Association’s Board that the LLC investigate ways to place a conservation easement over the property that would preserve the land and restrict its development in perpetuity. A conservation easement was placed over the 90 acre property in 2006 and donated to the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust. A 10 acre adjacent conservancy lot had a conservation easement placed over it and donated to the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust in 2007, creating a 100 acre highly preserved area that is privately owned.
Key participants in the beginnings of EcoVillage of Loudoun
Robert Berkebile, FAIA
BNIM Architects, Kansas City, Missouri
As the co-founding chairman of the Committee on the Environment of the American Institute of Architects, Bob forged a joint venture with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, manufacturers and environmental groups to create the criteria, methodology and database that has become the American Institute of Architects’ Environmental Resource Guide, an essential tool for the creation of healthy buildings and sustainable communities. Bob has designed two of the house schemes for EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA.
“EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA is charting a new course for community building. Including all the stakeholders in a collaborative design process, and seeking to improve social, economic and environmental vitality with each design decision, will become a model for resource conservation, human resources and environmental resources.”
Ecological Design Associates, Clarskville, Maryland
Wendy Bratzel is a recognized authority on storm water management and stream restoration and has done extensive research and writing on adapting sustainable land use practices to a mainstream market. She has worked to develop the community's land use and reforestation plan, trail design, as well as to define land development and construction practices to be used on the site.
“The number of positive things that are being done is astounding considering the conservative land development industry within which the work has to be done. EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA is making a big difference -- not just as an ecologically friendly community in itself, but as a model that will help others follow similar paths.”
Nancy Clanton, P.E.
Clanton Engineering, Inc., Denver, Colorado
Nancy Clanton is the lighting design engineer for the project. She is well known throughout the Unites States for her lighting designs. As principal of Clanton Engineering, Nancy has managed or been involved in hundreds of projects including office, residential, retail, business, restaurants, schools, hospitals and roadways. As a leader in the International Dark-Sky Association, Nancy has designed the lighting schemes with a high level of sensitivity to environmental impact as well as lighting quality.
“EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA has a vision that will demonstrate a sustainable lifestyle, especially for our children.”
Roger Courtenay, ASLA
EDAW, Alexandria, Virginia
Roger Courtenay is a world renowned landscape architect. He is working as a community and land planner for the project. Roger has focused on the planning and design of contemporary cultural and community facilities, often in historic landscape and environmentally sensitive contexts such as the Smithsonian and the National Arboretum. Many of his projects have addressed the issues of environmentally responsive design as an integral part of the town planning and residential design process.
“The Master Plan represents a blueprint for a community singularly committed to settling together on a piece of land with great respect for its preservation, conservation and integrity. Probably the best way to ensure a sense of place is to make natural and cultural systems fit. EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA does that!”
Center for Maximum Building Potential, Austin, Texas
Pliny Fisk, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, has consulted with EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA to understand and calibrate the environmental impact of human settlement on the property. Pliny’s expertise is in the areas of sustainable planning and design, regionally-derived building materials and building systems. He is frequently cited as one of the foremost Eco-pioneers in the United States.
“EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA is a prime example of how people can work together to understand and live with nature. The principles being developed are fundamental to how human society must live to ensure planetary survival.”
Gregory Franta, FAIA (now deceased)
Rocky Mountain Institute, Snowmass, Colorado
Greg Franta is the cofounding chairman of the American Institute of Architects Environmental Committee and is the principal architect and design coordinator for the project. He has also designed two of the house schemes. For decades, Greg has pioneered environmentally sustainable architecture and has been a key player in the design of successful “green” buildings throughout the world. He has designed hundreds of energy efficient and environmentally sound offices, community buildings, libraries, homes and other buildings, many of which are considered the most energy efficient in the U.S.
“EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA represents a unique community designed to enhance the intrinsic relationship among people, nature, and technology. It will bring a refreshing sense of connections among mind, body and spirit on a community scale.”
Harry T. Gordon, FAIA
Burt Hill Kosar R Littleman Assoc., Washington, DC
In addition to designing two of the house schemes, Harry Gordon is the architect-in-charge of construction documents for EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA. For more than three decades, Harry has been a leader in developing energy efficient and environmentally responsive building designs. In addition to his design work, he has directed innovative building research projects, authored several publications, and taught and lectured extensively, both in the U.S. and internationally. He is a founding principal of Burt Hill, a national architecture and engineering firm.
“EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA is a tangible symbol of the three essentials of sustainable development: a cooperative, nurturing social structure, a positive effect on the environment, and careful design. It establishes a new benchmark for community living, offering a healthy alternative to the flawed model of suburbia in which so many people try to exist.”
Rocky Mountain Institute, Snow Mass, Colorado
Amory B. Lovins provides advanced technical support to the design team. He is internationally renowned for his foresight and creative solutions as components to sustainable communities. Amory co-founded and directs research at Rocky Mountain Institute in Old Snowmass, Colorado, and is Principal Technical Consultant to its subsidiary E SOURCE, the premier source of technical information on advanced electric efficiency. A 1993 MacArthur Fellow, Amory has received the Mitchell, Onassis, Nissan and “Alternative Nobel” prizes, an Oxford MA, and nine honorary doctorates, written 29 books, and hundreds of papers, consulted extensively worldwide, and held visiting academic chairs.
“EcoVillage of Loudoun County, VA is breaking ground in design integration, community involvement, resource efficiency, appropriate scale and potential to eliminate in-the-ground infrastructure. It’s of national significance, and deserves every success.”