A “green” subdivision planned for Mount Desert deserves positive mention. Its architect, who won a statewide green housing design contest, says there’s nothing cutting-edge in his Mount Desert project; just fundamental good building practices and small design changes. But the little changes add up to a lot: solar orientation for the houses instead of lining them up along the street; small lots (19 houses on 10 acres) to maximize open space; windows designed to take advantage of the sun; small house size; a common parking space 150 feet away instead of a lot of garages; low-flow faucets, extra insulation, durable siding, native-species landscaping. The architect investigated certified sustainable-harvest lumber, but it would have been shipped across the country from the Northwest, so he opted for non-certified Maine wood harvested responsibly. While it’s estimated that the green aspects of these houses will raise their construction cost by two to five percent, it’s likely the expense will be offset by savings in operating costs.

The subdivision is being developed by the nonprofit Island Housing Trust, whose goal is to provide affordable housing for people who work on Mount Desert. Successful applicants for the houses must earn part of their incomes on Mount Desert.

Considerable good work on affordable housing is underway along the coast and in several island communities. Mount Desert’s effort is one of many in the region. If its planners follow through on their “green” concept, it and others like it will be addressing affordability, environmental sustainability and energy efficiency — all at the same time.

Quite an investment in a community’s future!