Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an experiment to find out what sustainability looks like, and for 15 years it has been a beacon of hope, inspiring and leading the world toward that goal.
Founded in 1997, Dancing Rabbit (DR) is now a small village of 75 residents who have reduced their ecological impact in key areas by 90% compared to the average American — that’s 90% less water, electricity, motor fuel, and natural gas. Our goal is to demonstrate a high standard of living that everyone worldwide could enjoy while leaving an ecological footprint that our planet can sustain.
Village Growth and the Need for a New Community Center
Dancing Rabbit’s vision is to grow to be a village of 500 to 1000 people. Starting with just 6 founding members we’ve now grown into a community of over 75 year-round residents and have been experiencing average growth of 18% annually. At these rates, our winter population will top 100 in just a few years, and including visitors and interns we expect our summer peak to exceed 150. Being a village is no longer just a dream for the future; the village is here.
Our current 2,000-square-foot Community Building was built in 2004 and was designed to serve a community of 50 or 60. We are already seeing the strains on the building and the community.
We have decided to build a new Community Center that will provide essential infrastructure for visitors, interns, new community members, and the general public. We plan to begin construction in late 2012 and complete the building during 2014.
We have designed a building with space for meetings, events, workshops, food preparation and dining, and social interaction. It will house an extensive library of sustainability-related books, as well as offices for several of DR’s nonprofit organizations. In addition to its function as a top-notch facility for education and outreach, the new Community Center will also become the central nexus of the village –- a hub for creating connections and fostering community.
The building will meet the highest specifications for ecological construction. It will be certified by the US Green Building Council as LEED Platinum (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s highest ranking) and meet the even more exacting standards of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). The new building will be made from local, non-toxic materials, combining both natural and green building techniques, while providing for all of its energy from on-site solar and wind power. The Dancing Rabbit Community Building will serve as an inspiration and replicable example of what sustainable construction can achieve.
Our goal is to create a flagship building for our village that is super energy efficient and low impact both during its construction and use. To minimize energy use, we’re emphasizing natural daylighting and passive solar heating and cooling. The building will showcase strawbale, cob, natural plasters, and local materials that provide insulation, thermal mass, and beautiful finishes. Only high efficiency appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling technology will be used. Composting toilets will minimize water consumption and allow for nutrient reuse. Energy use will go beyond “net zero,” meaning more renewable energy will be exported than consumed for all electricity, heating, cooling, and cooking. We’ll source local and non-toxic materials for a healthy building and a healthy environment.