INSTEAD OF “GREENING” INDIVIDUAL HOUSES, ENTIRE BLOCKS OF HOMES ARE RETROFIT
INTO A SINGLE EFFICIENT UNIT
By Daniel M. Kammen
In the past decade the construction and retrofitting of individual homes to reduce energy and water use has grown explosively. Yet applying green construction to multiple buildings at once may be an even better idea. Sharing resources and infrastructure
could reduce waste, and retrofitting impoverished or moderate-income neighborhoods
could also bring cost savings and modern technology to people who would typically lack such opportunities.
Working at the neighborhood level does add complexity to planning, but these neighborhood efforts offer rewards that even green single-family homes
One such example is the Oakland EcoBlock project, which I lead at the University of California, Berkeley, with my colleague Harrison Fraker, a professor of architecture and urban design. It is a multidisciplinary endeavor involving urban designers, engineers, social
scientists and policy experts from city, state and federal governments, academia, private industry, non-profi ts and grassroots organizations.
The program, which has been planned in great detail but has not yet begun construction , will retrofit 30 - 40 contiguous old homes in a lower- to middle income neighborhood near California's famous Golden Gate Bridge. It aims to apply existing technology to
dramatically reduce fossil-fuel and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. We expect the community to rapidly recoup the money spent on infrastructure with savings