Wolf Creek Lodge Wins GEELA Award


Wolf Creek Lodge Senior Cohousing Community, currently under construction in Grass Valley, CA, has been selected as the winner of the prestigious California State 2011 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Sustainable Communities.

Established in 1993, the GEELA program is the state’s highest honor in recognizing individuals, companies and organizations that make significant contributions to the state by developing environmentally-friendly practices while contributing to the local economy.

As the fourth senior cohousing community in the country, Wolf Creek Lodge demonstrates an innovative approach to environmental and social sustainability by creating a neighborhood where seniors can support each other. Internationally -known cohousing architects and authors Katie McCamant and Chuck Durrett began the project by coalescing a group of interested people in 2006.   These pro-active (not just “active”) seniors weren’t satisfied with existing retirement housing options. They don’t want to be managed. They don’t want to live with hundreds of other seniors.  Instead they envision a vibrant neighborhood made up of 30 privately-owned one- and two-bedroom homes, shared open spaces, and a 4,000 sq. ft. common house for community gatherings, cooperative activities, and guest accommodations. That buyers group—now 24 households strong—have already formed their social community as they worked together over the last 4 years on the community’s design and development.

Both the community’s location and its design add to its environmental sustainability. Located within easy walking distance to stores and restaurants, the community has set aside 3.5 acres of permanent open space along beautiful Wolf Creek. In addition, McCamant & Durrett Architects designed the building to be extremely energy-efficient (45% better than current California Code) with solar panels providing hot water for the hydronic heating system. Building materials were chosen to minimize impact on the environment and indoor air quality.

Originally slated to start construction in the Summer of 2008, the international economic crisis and collapse of construction financing delayed the project for 2 years. It was the financial commitment of the Lodge buyers that saved the project, and ultimately convinced First Community Bank of Santa Rosa to move forward with the construction loan. The Lodge buyers persevered through this difficult period because they had already formed strong bonds during the planning process and they could not find other attractive retirement housing options. They were able to look beyond the current economic and housing crisis to find the long-term value of creating a socially and environmentally sustainable community, and they put money on the line to back those values.  Move-in is now slated for Summer of 2012.

Many people look forward to their retirement years and find themselves very busy using their skills with local non-profit organizations and pursuing interests they didn’t have time for when they were working and raising families. But in today’s world, we tend to depend on driving to get to most of our interests. Over time, our eyes don’t want to drive at night, and then suddenly a broken hip, or twisted angle keeps us at home. Overnight an active adult can become an isolated senior. The members of Wolf Creek Lodge are thinking forward to create a place where they have an active social life with friends right next door. They’ll be there to help each other, rather than relying on hired staff or senior support services. They may even decide to hire assistance, saving money by working together.  By living in a walkable neighborhood, they will be less dependent on having to drive to everything. And many studies have shown that people with a stimulating social life live longer, healthier lives.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today honored 16 companies and organizations for their contributions to California’s environment and economy by awarding them with a 2011 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). “To thrive in the twenty-first century, we need to preserve the environment on which the economy itself depends,” said Governor Brown. “Tonight’s award recipients have done just that. This year’s winners exemplify the imagination that will drive California’s recovery.”

In addition to the cohousing group members, many Nevada County locals are involved in creating the community including McCamant & Durrett Architects, Nevada City Engineering, Melas Engineering, Holdrege & Kull Engineering, Nevada County Plumbing, Grennon & Sons, Hansen Bros, the developer CoHousing Partners, and many more. McCamant and Durrett were previously involved in creating Nevada City Cohousing where they now live. The Lodge community members are proud to be recognized with this award and to be creating solutions for more sustainable future for themselves and their grandchildren.

To find out more about Wolf Creek Lodge or to look into joining the community, go www.wolfcreeklodge.org or call 530-478-1980.