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Habitat Monterey Bay Embraces Earth Day

By Chris Campana

Community Action Keeps Us on a Green Building Trajectory

As we celebrate Earth Day this year, we would like to recognize our green building industry partners and community connections for the amazing work they do every day to help us meet our building objectives. We feel fortunate to be able to work with this fantastic team of sustainable design and green building advisers, architects, energy efficient building material suppliers, and of course, our allies in local government. By working together, we have strengthened the Habitat Monterey Bay organization and community that allows us to continue to provide new housing for local residents – along with another very important outcome – our collective efforts to decrease the carbon footprint on our planet.

Our work to build modest, quality homes that integrate sustainable construction features in new homes is guided by our seven-member construction committee. We are so thankful for our relationship with this group of local construction professionals and Habitat board members. Their emphasis on energy efficiency and water conservation creates monthly cost savings for homeowners, and the use of quality construction materials reduces long-term maintenance expenses. All Habitat homes are outfitted with solar panels, energy star appliances, and use advanced framing techniques to improve energy efficiency.

Over the past year, we have expanded our efforts to further integrate energy efficient design and build practices in our homes. Last June, Pete Kennedy, Senior Project Manager of Bright Green Strategies, joined the construction board to help leverage his knowledge of sustainable design and green building certification. One of his projects is to help Habitat construct all-electric residential units, eliminating the use of gas, and promoting the use of solar power.

Sustainable Building Lowers Expenses for Habitat Families

This summer, two local families will experience life-changing events when they move into their sustainable green homes we are building in Santa Cruz County. The two homes, located in Rodeo Creek Court in the Live Oak neighborhood, will have a kitchen, three bedrooms, and energy efficient features – seemingly basic amenities in 2021, which will be considered luxuries for the Campbell and Reyes Silva families. These working families have been living with extended family members in homes that are simply too small to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Kali Campbell, a Santa Cruz native and local high school mathematics teacher, will move her family into one of the townhouses in June. Campbell currently lives with her mother and young daughter in a two-bedroom home and looks forward to moving into a three-bedroom home where savings from solar and energy efficient features will translate into lower electric and water bills so she can make ends meet.

“We are so excited. Ownership of the home is a huge step for us,” explained Campbell. “The big bonus is that the green building standards and solar power will make it possible to lower our monthly expenses so we can keep the home over the long-term.”

Going Green is a Team Effort

We would not be able to accomplish our home construction or green building objectives without the support of so many dedicated volunteers and community organizations. We would like to recognize several of these leaders for taking the time to work with us as we advance our home building agenda.

Santa Cruz-based Architect William Kempf offered his discounted services to design the Rodeo Creek complex. He created two single-story 1,000 square-foot two-bedroom homes, eight two-story 1,200-square-foot three-bedroom homes, and one single-story 1,200-square-foot ADA accessible home. He has also dedicated open space for a children’s play area and an organic community garden!

Allterra Solar provides design and materials at cost for the solar systems at Rodeo Creek as well as our other construction sites in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Without these solar panels, families on limited incomes would not be able to afford to construct, purchase or lease clean energy solutions, and would otherwise rely on the energy coming from the grid and nonrenewable sources.

Our local partner, Lighthouse Windows, recently donated over $30,000 in Milgard energy efficient windows to help us meet our green building objectives! The company uses sustainable practices as well, including recycling 100% of its vinyl manufacturing scrap either for future window frames or into other products, decreasing their glass waste by two-thirds since 2004, and reducing carbon emissions by having locations within 300 miles of most of their customers, which saves on fossil fuels.

We could not do the work we do without the support of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union local 234. Through their Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LMCC), they have provided in-kind electrical materials and installation in most of our homes over the last 10 years. In addition, Habitat receives hundreds of hours of volunteer labor for this electrical work through a fund that allows contractors and local union members to make contributions to our projects. Thank you!

Planning and construction for the Rodeo Creek site began in 2017, when the County of Santa Cruz provided to Habitat a 1.5 acre parcel of land located in the Live Oak neighborhood. The partnership has been essential to adding houses in an area where home demand is extremely high.

Commitment in all areas of business

Each year it is important to recognize Earth Day so that we can increase global awareness about the negative impact of fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, and global warming, in general. Yet, it is the work each of us does every day, including Habitat Monterey Bay, that will make the world a greener place. We are pleased that our administrative office and Santa Cruz ReStore are Green Business certified by the Monterey Bay Green Business Program. In addition, our housing construction follows California Green Building Standard codes and as a result, has received multiple Green Building Awards. We’re inspired to continue working with all of our partners who are making a positive impact in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties.

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