Villebois is going green, but just how green remains to be seen. Developers of the "new urbanist" community in western Wilsonville want to ask its future residents just how much they are willing to pay to enjoy the health and environmental benefits of the latest rainwater-management systems, ecologically sensitive roof types and natural ventilation systems.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Villebois is going green, but just how green remains to be seen.
Developers of the "new urbanist" community in western Wilsonville want to ask its future residents just how much they are willing to pay to enjoy the health and environmental benefits of the latest rainwater-management systems, ecologically sensitive roof types and natural ventilation systems.
They are holding a public meeting and open house April 5 to find from prospective Villebois homeowners just where the intersections of monthly mortgage payments and the latest sustainable building practices meet.
"We're inviting neighbors and citizens to give us their feelings about what they would like to see in terms of greening up their town, Villebois," said Rudy Kadlub, chief executive officer of Costa Pacific Communities, the Wilsonville-based company designing and developing the 500-acre project. "But the point we're starting from is that sustainable development is the way to go."
Work has begun on the first two residential neighborhoods at Villebois, which means "village near the woods" in French. Both of those involve larger single-family houses.
The shades of environmentally friendly green that interest Kadlub and others most right now will be incorporated into the Village Center -- the densely packed hub of the project from which the rest of the development's parts will radiate.
Dan Hoyt, Costa Pacific's project manager for the village center, is expected to quiz those attending the meeting closely on just how far they'd like to go in incorporating environmental elements into the final design.
The system used to collect and disperse rainwater, for instance, represents the range of options also pertaining to design features such as roof types, natural-fiber carpets and ventilation systems, Kadlub said.
The system's goal is keeping at least 90 percent of the total rainfall on Villebois' grounds, keeping dirt, oil and other runoff from polluting nearby streams. A less expensive way to do that is constructing a hidden, largely underground system capable of not roiling downstream areas with torrential rainfall discharges, he said.
"But we could also do it in very dramatic fashion with gargoyles, rainwater collectors, little rivulets actually gathering through the sidewalk and streets and into the plaza," Kadlub said. "The goal of slowing the water is the same, but the specific way we do it could have very different price tags attached."
Bob Boileau, a Portland architect working on the village center, is convinced that Villebois residents will gladly pay premiums if they know various design elements offer both "green" building elements and the long-term health effects of being able to park their automobiles once they arrive home and walk virtually anywhere in the project.
"You can't measure those things in your monthly house payments, but the real payback may be 20 years down the road," said Boileau, a principal with the firm Fletcher Farr Ayotte.
The development is already making a name for itself, he said. It is one of the first large-scale developments in the country to incorporate standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council at the master-plan level.
The council represents three influential architectural groups that have come together to develop a national standard for neighborhood design that integrates the principles of green building and smart growth.
Full build-out on the property, which once housed Dammasch State Hospital, isn't expected for as long as 10 years. Villebois' 2,300 housing units are expected to add about 7,000 residents to a city population now at 15,000.
Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News