A planned Somesville village affordable housing project will incorporate green building techniques to make homes both affordable and environmentally friendly.

Funded by the nonprofit Island Housing Trust, the proposed subdivision will sit on a 10-acre parcel of land donated to the trust by Mount Desert voters. Mount Desert town officials gave the plan final approval in March.

Executive director Chris Spruce said the Island Housing Trust’s board of directors decided early in the project’s layout stage to lessen the subdivision’s environmental footprint. Rather than have the 19 homes stand in a straight line facing the road, the design will orient each house to maximize southern exposure for passive solar heating. Housing lots will be comparatively small, with 19 lots on 10 acres to maximize open space. Spruce said such housing density is becoming a necessity on Mount Desert Island.

“It’s an island and there’s a limited amount of land and limited amount of space,” Spruce said.

There will be no garages in this subdivision. Several homeowners will have parking spaces in front of their homes, but others will park in a collective parking lot no more than 150 feet away. This design leaves much of the subdivision cul-de-sac generally free of traffic.

“This is not so much an environmental thing, but kid-friendly, family-friendly,” Spruce said.

Home and subdivision layout was designed by MDI architect John Gordon of Gordon-Stanley Architecture in Town Hill, based upon his winning home designs for a Maine mainstream green home design contest. Gordon said there isn’t anything cutting-edge in the subdivision’s design to make it green; instead he just looked at fundamental good building practices and small design changes.

“There’s virtually nothing in the house that doesn’t get rethought or reconsidered,” Gordon said.

A primary energy-saving feature will be house size. Each two-story home will have a comparatively small 1,255-square-foot floor plan to reduce heating and cooling costs. To save on space, Gordon maximized storage area space, designed an open downstairs floor plan, and included many windows to make each home feel bigger to its occupants.

Some other energy-saving features include low-flow faucets, extra insulation, durable siding, and native-species landscaping.

At times, Gordon found he had to choose between different green ideals in his design. For example, he could have opted for certified sustainable-harvest lumber, but the lumber would have been shipped from the Northwest. Instead, he opted for using non-certified Maine lumber harvested by responsible foresters.

“We find there are very few black-and-white answers in the green world,” Gordon said.

As an architect for an affordable housing project, Gordon said he always had to look at cost, durability and environmental friendliness for each design decision. Often, one of those ideals would cancel the others out.

Spruce estimated the subdivision’s green innovations ultimately will raise construction costs between two percent to five percent, but he believed those costs will be more than made up in operating-cost savings for future homeowners. He also felt the green aspects of the project helped with fundraising.

Ultimately, the homes will sell for $150,000 to $175,000. To qualify for the homes, a family of four must earn 120 percent of the median income of Hancock County residents (about $64,000) or less. A portion of that income must have been earned on the island. Applicants also must agree to live in the homes for at least 11 months out of the year. The trust has set aside a few of the homes for successful Mount Desert town applicants.

Spruce said he hoped to finish the application process this month and break ground later this year.

For more information, contact the Island Housing Trust at (207) 244-4468.