We know that you see and feel the impacts of the warming climate on California—it’s making us more vulnerable to fires, floods, and drought. And, at the same time, housing prices are rising higher than many families can stretch.

At Build It Green, we believe that the solutions not only begin in the home— but the solutions also begin with the homes. That is, Californians understand that these problems are interwoven and that human communities are parts of our larger natural communities. By working together and thinking creatively we can build neighborhoods where people and natural systems can both thrive.

As 2024 gains momentum, Build It Green (BIG) is moving forward to do just that. After working with our members in the California Housing System Innovators Network, we’ve narrowed in on three primary focus areas for new programs work this year to support and grow. These focus areas are:

We will dive deeper into what we’ll do in each of those focus areas on future blog posts as we work with partners to explore opportunities and generate possible actions. But for now, we offer a high-altitude view of what these priority areas are and why they are so important to Californians how we design our homes and communities.

Building Codes

Building codes are a major part of the legal environment around development. Fire and electrical codes, for example, have helped reduce the danger of fires for decades and saved the lives of thousands of people. Codes are an important tool for improving the way we build our homes and communities so that people and natural systems can thrive. At the same time, codes can be hard to interpret, difficult to implement with limited benefits or have unintended consequences. They can also make building more expensive and stifle innovation.

BIG imagines a better, more effective code system for California. A new-and-improved system would be transparent, flexible and easy to engage with. It would confirm baseline safety and performance, while also encouraging innovation. Over the course of this year, BIG will host monthly 60-90 minute facilitated sessions with a broad range of stakeholders focused on California’s building codes—how we can shift them to promote innovation, the leverage points and methods we can take advantage of to evolve the codes, and the key stakeholders we need to invite in to create the transformation we hope for.

Innovative Funding Frameworks

Last year, at the 2023 Gathering our members asked critical questions about California’s current housing and development funding ecosystem from a lens of regeneration and equity:
Traditional housing development is not meeting the diverse housing needs for today’s Californians. Outdated or ineffective funding tools are a crucial part of this picture. We need to understand the limits and gaps of these traditional financial tools in order to make improvements.
This year, BIG is spearheading a research product framed to understand the opportunities and gaps for wealth building in communities based on existing housing funding sources. We want to identify emerging and innovative funding products and methods that present an opportunity to scale housing production of various types to support regenerative communities.
Based on this research, BIG will create an immersive workshop to imagine with our Network members how we can translate the research findings into action.

Community housing initiatives based on land-banking

Historically, land banks have been used to take back community ownership of neglected, under-utilized, and abandoned properties. We also see the potential for land banks to support communities as they face escalating housing prices. That is, land banks may help provide the means to gain land for affordable housing development, community-led planning, and long-term land stewardship.
The key to unlocking this potential is developing a shared understanding of land banking or other related community housing and asset ownership strategies. We need to explore the potential of those strategies across silos to support equitable, collaborative, regenerative outcomes. By partnering with our Network members this year, BIG intends to hold facilitated sessions and create space for shared learning and generative thinking around how we can leverage land banks to bring more control and power to communities.
California’s future is being set today. We imagine a future where housing is more, not less affordable, and where we work together across silos to build and support regenerative communities where people and natural systems thrive together. These focus areas are key to getting there.
Stay tuned and learn more. And if you’re interested in joining our Network, we would be thrilled to partner with you to advance this work. Reach out to Jenny Low to learn more.
Alex Coba

Communications Associate

As a proud California native from Stockton, Alex brings a wealth of experience and a versatile skill set. He has a solid communication background with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Chico. Alex is adept at strategic communications and media relations, with experience gathering and sharing stories from his local communities that uplift the unique spirit and values of those places. He is excited to join Build It Green, where he can apply his talents to further BIG’s mission to help communities across California thrive.