Cardboard Castles and Other Amenities...

I am really interested in using different forms of cultural action to help build better communities. Communities are a vital social model, allowing us to tackle problems beyond the ability of individuals with the focus of a defined (usually relatively small) group of people. How do the arts and cultural work in general help communities grow more sustainable futures? If you have a cool website or project or your own ideas on these subjects please let me know.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The First Green Homeless Shelter

The New York Times today reported on Crossroads, a homeless shelter in Oakland, CA, that is being reported as the first green homeless shelter in the US.

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At 12:49 AM, Blogger jonathan said...

I am the Project Manager for Crossroads. My name is Jonathan Austin, Principal Consultant for JSA Consulting Services. I'd be happy to chat about any aspects of the project that you are interested in, or did not find delved into in the NY Times.

We got great media coverage for this project, and it is more than in part a question of timing. We had some concerns, or at least I did, six years ago, when I started, that our spending on green items would appear wasteful. In opening now, and realizing that, lo and behold, we were the first green homeless shelter in the U.S., we were all of a sudden very newsworthy.

We were, as a result of these concerns, and also just as a result of the norms of dealing with new construction, very cautious. However, from the beginning we placed the most emphasis on spending that would enhance the financial sustainability of East Oakland Community Project (the non-profit owner) in the long run. The solar panels and hydronic heating are a big part of this. So is the KONE gearless elevator, that is rated to use much less electricity than a standard elevator. Of course, we also placed emphasis on the items concerning health that were emphasized in the news coverage. But a big part of green building is also considered to be the financial health of the owner of the building in the long run. This project seemed to be a perfect test case for this question, as EOCP "master meters" all of the utilities in its building.

As a project with such a long history, Crossroads is very multi-faceted, and I think has many lessons to teach besides Green Building. Of course, we hope that it can turn even more lives around. As I was in the building today, I was thinking that what we were able to do was just give the staff at EOCP the tools that they need to perform their most difficult of tasks: helping people turn their lives around. With this building, now, they should really be able to do their jobs more effectively, and work in comfort, and feel good about what they do every day.


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