aerial view of oakland ecoblock within the bay area

Event Recap: ‘The Oakland EcoBlock – A Model for Sustainable Change, Block by Block’

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What if you could develop an Advanced Energy Community (AEC) that could support more homes with minimal burden on existing infrastructure? What if that model focused on retaining affordable homes and radically reduced carbon emissions? What if there were solutions for urban neighborhoods facing the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, resilience and social equity?

On Wednesday, April 21, the EcoBlock team gave a presentation for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) San Francisco. Organized by Justin Shupp and Summerhill Apartment Communities, the event drew over fifty attendees from across the Bay Area, with backgrounds ranging from property development and investment to construction, local government, and academia. 

Following opening remarks from Michelle Frey, Executive Director of ULI SF, Dan Kammen, co-principal investigator of EcoBlock and Professor of Energy at UC Berkeley, introduced the project; he emphasized the importance of multi-disciplinarity and partnership with the City of Oakland to meet critical equity and environmental goals. Christine Scott Thomson, Senior Associate and Urban Planner at Page, discussed the existing city-scale systems (e.g., electrical, stormwater, sewage) that will be integrated with the EcoBlock. She highlighted the need to address climate change in the built environment, which is responsible for producing about 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, Susi Marzuola, Principal at Siegel & Strain Architects, described the various interventions that will occur at the building scale, including green building approaches to affordable energy retrofits, shared electrical assets, mobility improvements, and water efficiency upgrades. 

Clockwise, from left to right: Lauren Krause, Susi Marzuola, Dan Kammen, Therese Peffer, and Christine Thomson.  

After the presentation, the panelists—along with project manager Therese Peffer—joined Lauren Krause, Director of Environment, Social, & Governance at Grovesnor, for a moderated discussion. The event concluded with a networking session between the EcoBlock team and attendees. 

Working with ULI was a wonderful opportunity to continue the conversation around climate change, resilience, and equity. As the EcoBlock project moves forward, we look forward to contributing to a more just and resilient future! 

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