Can a Fractional Be Green?

I have never understood the attraction of fractional ownership, the modern name for timeshares; they seem to be a way to get three times as much money out of buyers as you would if you sold the whole thing to one person, and I suspect that most of them are going to end up like the timeshares of the seventies did, with remorseful buyers who were pressured into buying overpriced crap. But perhaps some are different.

White Water Village is on the upper Ottawa River, and advertised as "24 sustainable log homes, designed to be greenhouse gas neutral." The developer is Jonathan Westeinde of Windmill Developments, a leading green developer, and the land is owned by Joe Kowalski, founder of Wilderness Tours, a whitewater company that invests in land trusts to preserve the shoreline habitat, and runs a mean river raft.

The land will be held by a non-profit corporation owned by the purchasers of the units, which are designed by architect Jane Thompson and built by Colonial Log Homes. The designs are conventional and not particularly inspired, but have the following attributes:

1. Site infrastructure incorporates a geothermal system combined with some solar thermal and photovoltaic energy generation;

2. Minimal disruption of existing trees etc. to allow for the development;

3. No regular use of cars on the properties and the use of solar powered golf carts;

4. Forest Stewardship Certified logs used in all log home construction;

5. Buildings designed to be 40-50% more energy efficient than typical construction;

6. All indoor finishes are based on emission free, low VOC and sustainably harvested materials to maximize indoor air quality;

7. Energy Star appliances;

8. Dual flush toilets and on-site waste water treatment system;

9. Application of a green cleaning program for the ongoing maintenance of the resort;

10. Active compositing and recycling facilities onsite;

11. An existing 4,000 acre Land Trust that will be protected as part of the development program with an intent to increase the area to 10,000 acres. This land trust will be a formidable carbon reservoir that keeps heat trapping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, while preserving the natural environment.

Building in this way isn't cheap, and I suppose that the attraction of fractional ownership is that it makes a place like this affordable for people who are not millionaires. The developer says "We believe that developers have a responsibility to be positive agents of change, and we are committed to changing the current development paradigm." which I might add, is usually "build it fast, build it cheap, and get the hell out."

Readers often note that second homes are evil and nobody needs one, but if one is going to have one, perhaps owning a portion instead of the whole thing is better, and if it is a model for sustainable development and ownership, better yet.

Good luck to ::White Water Village

Tags: Ontario