LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community) is a cooperative eco-housing project in Leeds, UK, finished in 2013. With A unique economic model, coupled with an innovative design and community input, LILAC has shown that the act of conscious environmental living isn’t a choice reserved for the middle class. The site provides a priceless opportunity for those who care about the world they live in, but do not have the income or time to act.
Environmental impact starts from the home. Yes the building materials and land have a footprint, but the home is also where we consume energy, eat and travel from, which is why the home is such a crucial building block in the fight against climate change.
Existing in the UK has become a commodity. The rich push us like pawns around the housing chessboard, slowly putting the squeeze on prices until some can no longer even afford rent, let alone think of buying.
The result is a population, unfairly skewed towards low income groups and ethnic minorities, who are living in temporary accommodations, thrashing to keep their heads above the spiralling rent prices. Only those with a huge income can afford to build ‘eco-homes’ which always seem more like a phoney dick swinging contest, showing off only to others in the green cult, than a genuine attempt at sustainability.
How does it work?
At LILAC, the whole community has the same mortgage, and work together to pay it off, meaning that one person is not wholly responsible for the repayment. Imagine how much more stable you would feel going into buying a house, knowing that there are 30 other people contributing who can continue paying the mortgage off, even if your income went down.
Not only that, but each person pays a flexible rate – 35% of your calendar earnings, allowing those on much lower wages to buy a home. If you earn less, you pay less.
LILAC gives hope to the countless young people who are daunted by the prospect of skyrocketing prices or even being kicked out their rented accommodation.
The housing market isn’t fair but LILAC proves that this doesn’t have to be the case. You can take that pay cut to have the job you really want. You can live somewhere modern and environmentally friendly without having to double your income. You can help the world, just by living. Buying sustainably doesn’t have to be exclusively for the rich.
What makes it eco?
The community is always the focus at LILAC, and at the centre of this they have a hub. Here they can buy locally grown (often on site) produce, share tools, bikes and vehicles. The whole site is structured towards sustainability – solar panels on the roof, large south facing windows to efficiently heat the house, each made out of strawbale. LILAC then, isn’t just designed sustainably, but it allows everyone to behave sustainably too.
The home is a centre of all our lives and the basis for effective environmental action. In a deeply unfair marketplace only the rich can afford eco-living. LILAC proves that this doesn’t have to be the case. You can live sustainably whilst making sure the homes are affordable with a decent economic model. For you, reading this, consider the possibility of living in one of these community eco housing projects, talk about them, promote them and most importantly, show policy makers that they are worth investing in.
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