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Langley cottage featured on home tour

One of the cottages at the Highlands in Langley is a featured home at the 2008 Skagit and Island Counties Builders Association Home Tour.

The tour is noon to 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 12, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14.

During the tour, the Highlands is also hosting a sustainability fair. The tour is put on annually by the builders association.

Erl Bangston, the developer of the Highlands, said putting the tour and a sustainability fair together was a no-brainer given that sustainability is at the core of the new development.

“Creating a low-impact development neighborhood continues to be a rewarding process,” he said. “I enjoy doing projects that are positive additions to the community, and at the Highlands we’re learning a lot and always looking for opportunities to share what we’re learning.”

The Langley home featured on the tour is a cottage designed by Langley architect Ross Chapin, and is one of eight small homes in Snowberry Close, a pocket neighborhood within the Highlands.

The two-story home features an inviting covered porch overlooking a community courtyard. Cozy rooms and built-in storage make the

1,397-square-foot cottage appear larger than its conservative footprint.

“The tour should be a lot of fun for folks. I hope many of our neighbors will take advantage of this event not only to see some great houses, but also to learn more about LID and other sustainable choices on Whidbey,” Bangston said.

The tour brochure praises Langley’s input on the design. “The progressive ideas laid out by the city, the civic vision of developers, the Highlands at Langley, Inc. and the community-spirited design of Ross Chapin combine to make the Highlands at Langley a prime location for Whidbey Island living,” it says.

This year, there are 14 homes on the tour from South Whidbey to Anacortes. They range from a small cottage to some very large luxury homes.

All the homes have green elements and one, at 36 South Pheasant Run Road in Coupeville, is a builder’s experiment in reaching the highest level of green building.

To accommodate the tour schedule, there will be several 15-minute presentations of some key components of earth-friendly living.

Presentations will take place between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. each day. This part of the weekend is free and open to everyone. Those attending the sustainability fair can take part in the tour by purchasing tickets at the Highlands cottage.

“When we first talked about adding a sustainability fair to our part of the tour, we wanted to involve everyone working on sustainability issues on the island,” said Nancy Bartlett, a spokeswoman for the Highlands, who also writes a column for The Record about sustainability issues.

“Then we realized tour attendees will only be there for a short time, so we scaled back. We’re offering three short presentations, one each day, focused on elements of sustainability visible at the Highlands,” she said.

On Friday, Stacy Smith, natural resources planner with the Whidbey Conservation District, will speak about living responsibly in a green community.

On Saturday, Linda Irvine, the city of Langley’s resource conservation manager, will talk about home-design considerations to minimize heat loss and energy needs.

And on Sunday, WSU Extension Master Gardeners will make a presentation on rain gardens.

“With the help of local experts and master gardeners, we’ll be planting one of the small rain gardens that will manage cottage roof runoff,” Bartlett said.

Staff from various organizations will be on hand to offer additional information for all these topics.

“There will be literature and displays on a lot of other topics, a slide show by an Al Gore-certified presenter and samples of local food from Slow Food Whidbey members,” Bartlett said. “We’re planning a bigger event later, probably next spring after our community building is completed.”

The Highlands is a statewide recognized model project for sustainable living.

A SICBA BuiltGreen Community, the Highlands was created using low-impact methods developed to protect the Puget Sound, wildlife and native plants. Langley was the first Washington city to adopt the guidelines of low-impact development, created by the Puget Sound Partnership, as part of its municipal code. Many other cities are now following in Langley’s footsteps.

For full tour information, maps and descriptions of all the homes, go to www.sicba.org.

Tickets for the tour are $7 and are available at chambers of commerce in Langley, Coupeville, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Anacortes, Burlington and Sedro Woolley, and at each of the homes on the days of the tour.

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