Habitat Retrofits Oakland Brownfield for LEED-ND Pilot

Habitat for Humanity’s East Bay affiliate is retrofitting a brownfield into 54 affordable homes on two acres of land in Oakland, Calif. With excellent location, walkable density, great design, and green features, the Edes Avenue project is participating in the pilot program of LEED for Neighborhood Development, in which NRDC (my employer) is a founding partner.

The homes are located a half mile from another Habitat development of 40 houses on 105th Avenue, in the Sobrante Park Neighborhood of East Oakland. The buildings are two-story wood frame homes, with a total development cost of $7 million. The first six were built in two weeks in 2006 following a ground-breaking and “Builder’s Blitz” by partners KB Homes and Pulte Homes. Eight additional units were framed from foundations to roofs in just four days during a 2007 Earth Day Build-A-Thon. Many of the homes will be dedicated on December 12th, when the keys will be handed over to the new homeowners. (The homeowners also participated in the project’s construction.)

Habitat purchased the property in 2002 with assistance from the City of Oakland and the Center for Creative Land Recycling. The organization then partnered with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to transform the property into a healthy neighborhood for deserving low-income families. The DTSC, which awarded Habitat a $425,000 low-interest loan to finance the brownfield investigation, worked closely with the organization to approve the subsequent cleanup plan. Roughly 300,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil had to be removed and replaced.

The homes will feature solar panels, recycled materials, sustainably grown wood, and more. For more photos and information, go here.

Kaid Benfield is director for sustainable communities and smart growth at The Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. He has his own blog on land development and community issues and enjoys contributing here, too, since there is so much common ground.


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