The operation and management of Douglas Meadows has been more difficult than expected. Originally, it was assumed that Sustainable Communities Northwest would take a leading role in educating residents about lifestyle choices and communal gardening opportunities. Due to the dissolution of Sustainable Communities Northwest since the completion of the project, many of these efforts have been lacking. Currently, only one raised bed has been planted and the unique landscaping has not been utilized as expected. Additionally, vandals in the neighborhood have poked holes in the straw bale garbage and recycling enclosure, which can compromise the longevity of the structure.
Similarly, many of the benefits of the passive solar heating have been nullified by resident practices. Tenants have not been quite as excited about the concrete floors as the designers. Viewing the floors as institutional, some residents have placed rugs on the concrete floors to alter the aesthetic but the thermal benefits of the floors remain. To compound the problem, drapes have been placed over the southward-facing windows whose exposure is integral to passively heating the space. These practices defeat the purpose of the design and negate many of the expected energy benefits. Many on the project team commented that radiant heating floors may have been a better fit.
To reverse both of these trends, Human Solutions is hoping to compile an "owner’s manual" and to find another organization to educate residents on gardening, composting, and landscaping.
Keys to Success – Operations
- Ensure that the capacity to implement is present