Co-living is not new, but it is experiencing a moment, as co-living facilities have sprouted up around the world in recent years. Co-living is a concept that people who want to share some space with others can create community and live more simply, inexpensively, and sustainably as a result of shared resources. Common resources might be a community kitchen, shared laundry, community vehicles or bikes that can be checked out hourly, shared roof space/decks/outdoor resources, and the like. If not everyone needs to own their own car (or BBQ grill or refrigerator or …), the pricing on things goes down, as does the environmental footprint.
If this sounds a bit like a hostel, well, that’s perhaps because it kind of is. The main differences, according to CoLive, are the length of stay, the amenities, and the purpose. And in my personal experience, co-living spaces tend to be cleaner, very well run, and more community focused, since people are there a little longer, and therefore people aren’t just there to party like rock stars for a few days while visiting the area as a tourist (as they do in hostels, bless their hearts). And friendships and connections can get deeper.
Co-living spaces can focus on a particular group of people, like entrepreneurs, artists (like San Francisco’s Haight Street Commons), and, increasingly these days, digital nomads. This provides a common bond for the community, and allows for a lot of good ideas to flow back and forth, inspiration to happen, and friendships to be made. It’s a microcosm of the “spontaneous collisions” concept. People don’t need to plan to get together (that’s a barrier of sorts and reduces interaction). It just … happens. The late Tony Hsieh provided perhaps the largest such experiment in this concept, with his downtown project in Las Vegas.
This Thursday — webcast on co-living development at a small, tangible scale
Does it take a gigantic investment and years in development? Well, that depends. This Thursday, 1 PM EST / 10 AM PST, I’ll be giving a talk about a small-scale eco-village/co-living space I developed with a multi-generational single-family home. Here’s the link to register for this free event if you’re interested.
Recently, I visited a new co-living space in Honolulu called Surfbreak HNL that encapsulates so much of the beauty of co-living, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Surfbreak was built very intentionally, with a lot of clean energy concepts integrated, above and beyond the usual sustainable benefits of co-living. R.J. Martin, one of the entrepreneurs behind Surfbreak, and a regular CleanTechnica reader, has been working in green real estate development in Hawaii for more than a decade. He sees Surfbreak as a natural evolution of this journey.
“We have modernized the chilled water AC system on our floor, giving each member the ability to control their room temperatures, whereas originally it was more of an all-or-nothing device,” he said. “In addition, we covered nearly 2,000 sq ft in glass with a high-end ceramic tint that keeps out about 90% of the usual heat gain, further reducing the load on the building’s chilled water AC system. Despite housing 20 or so members, our total electric usage is around 600 kWh per month. That’s about half the usage of an air-conditioned 3 bedroom house.”
Surfbreak also engages its customers. Martin said, “We provide laundry strips, reusable bags at the elevator, and all silverware and utensils in order to discourage single-use plastics. All lighting is LED and our talk series includes a local expert in promoting zero waste. We promote eco-tourism, as our mission statement is ‘We leave things better than we found them.'”
But the real beauty of Surfbreak, and other co-living spaces like them, is the community: