Climate change and housing affordability present two of the most significant challenges facing California. To avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, California has set aggressive policy goals to decarbonize its energy sector by 2045. Building decarbonization is a key strategy for achieving the state’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, California is moving to decarbonize its building stock, the state also faces a housing affordability crisis. The lack of affordable housing options has led to rising housing costs in which over 50 percent of households in the state cannot afford to live in the area where they work. Smart growth strategies, such as medium- to high- density mixed-use development, are key strategies for addressing the housing crisis. However, the pathway to zero-emission mixed-use development is likely not feasible using current commercial technologies and standard building design and construction practices. Furthermore, smart growth strategies have the potential to escalate gentrification and displacement of low-income households.
To address the challenges described above, stakeholders are pursuing a number of promising innovations in the areas of architecture, planning, policy, technology, construction, and financing. However, to simultaneously bend both curves (greenhouse gas emissions and rising housing costs), these innovations will need to come together into new models capable of disrupting the way housing is planned, designed, financed, and ultimately built. To that end, the CEC is planning to release a two-phase competition that will provide up to $48 million to challenge multi-disciplinary project teams to design and build a mixed-use development that is affordable, equitable, and emissions-free.
CEC Staff will hold a Pre-Application Workshop on January 21st.