First Energy-Efficient Tree House Community

Treehouse Community? Grab a Zipline
Welcome to the worlds first energy-efficient treehouse community.
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Energy-efficient communities are popping up around the world; from Masdar, the first carbon-neutral city, near Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., to an off-the-grid treehouse enclave in the Costa Rican Jungle.

There, just off the Pan-American Highway, a rocky path leads from the windy road up a mountain, winding into the rainforest.

Tree House 'Eden' Deep in Rainforest

"You can literally see the line where the rainforest begins, and that's when you get to the community of Finca Bellavista, an Eden of sorts," Matt Hogan says, driving a beat-up truck.

Hogan, a former motocross racer, is co-founder of Finca Bellavista, the solar-powered tree house community he built from scratch with wife Erica after moving from Colorado and joining an environmental movement toward taking communities off strained electrical grids.

"It's a win-win; we're protecting the environment and creating 'green' jobs building the infrastructure," Hogan says of what's billed as the world's first modern, planned, sustainable tree house community.

It consists of about two dozen sky-high structures, with more than 40 other properties sold and planned for development. All told, there are about 80 two-acre lots, which have been selling fast, the founders say.

The first stage of "pre-infrastructure" lots is sold out, they say, and there are six more in Phase Two, starting at $55,000 for a lot.

Among the amenities are running water, electricity, refrigeration, complete bathrooms, including a shower and head, and even Wi-Fi. And the tree houses that the Hogans built themselves are completely powered by the sun.

The community of the Finca includes professionals working out of their tree houses, young families with kids and retirees -- about 100 residents in all now, some full-time. Most of them are American or Canadian, but Costa Ricans have been looking as well, the Hogans say.

The Hogans took out home-equity loans against their Colorado home to buy land from local owners who had been trying to sell it for timber. They then sold the parcels to community residents, using the proceeds to make improvements.

The first full-time resident was a Zen-like website manager from Canada who goes by the name Kevin. His tree house is known to have the best Wi-Fi on the Finca.

Opening his door to a visitor, Kevin, 29, offers some tea or coffee but quickly has to run to make a call.

He is Skyping to a coworker in Pittsburgh, who comments that, "In this day and age, you can work from anywhere." Kevin is a using a reliable Internet line to work from the middle of the rainforest. He is designing a new iPhone app for the NFL, but he says he's not at liberty to talk much about it.

"I have the most amazing view," Kevin says, changing the subject and looking down from his tree house, 25 feet off the ground.

As for the Hogans, who speak fluent Spanish, they have a hard time traveling to Costa Rica because of passport issues. Neither of them has been granted citizenship (other people in the community have similar problems), so they have to leave the country for three days every three months.

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