The Threshold Cohousing Centre is an intentional community at Cole Street Farm which was set up with the shared vision and aim to “live more sustainably in the full sense, treading as lightly as we can upon the planet, both individually and as a group”. The Centre comprises the farmhouse common building and fourteen barn conversions (some old, some new; some privately owned, some Housing Association rentals/shared equity).
Electricity is partly supplied by solar panels on the farmhouse and on some of the converted barn buildings; it is set up as a mains feed-in system. Hot water in the farmhouse and relevant houses is heated by the solar panels when it is bright enough.
A biomass boiler, which burns wood pellets, provides a district heating system for the entire Centre by circulating hot water to the farmhouses and all the houses. Although a bit unreliable initially, it now runs very well with an annual maintenance having kept it in good running order for the past few years. Sewage is processed by a biodigester which cleans the effluent to a level that is certified for discharge into the stream that runs to the rear of the Centre. This operates at a very low power level using solar power when available and with annual or biennial servicing.
There is a one acre field with two polytunnels, open vegetable gardens, orchard, and plenty of wild spaces. Food is grown organically year round by and for members of the community. In addition, there is a one acre paddock with some fruit trees and also a two acre mixed woodland nearby with numerous fruit trees. Food waste is composted in worm bins and garden waste in big open bins, which then goes back onto the garden.
Water is captured from the roofs of all the houses and from the polytunnel roofs. There are three 1500 litre tanks near the houses and several 1000 litre ‘IBCs’ and other water storage near the polytunnels. When necessary, water is pumped from the stream near the outlet of the biodigester into the IBCs for reuse in the gardens.
Rainwater is also collected for use in the washing machines in the shared laundry (which has the added benefit of removing the need for washing machines in individual houses).
The ‘new build’ houses were all designed to include maximum insulation, energy efficiency, water-saving,etc., with the recommendation that residents install energy-saving appliances. Residents in older properties are encouraged to make appropriate eco-improvements where possible.