CALIFIA: Bay Area EcoCity

About the Califia Project:

Califia is a proposed 10,000-person ecocity to be built in the San Francisco metropolitan region over the next ten to fifteen years. The Green Century Institute is developing the general proposal for the project and seeking partners for this world class sustainable development.

Key Objectives:

  • Model Ecocity Development: Create a living example of an ecologically and economically sustainable urban development that leverages the evolutionary culture of Northern California in a real estate development integrating advanced green design features, network-facilitated community development, and forward thinking partnerships with private, non-profit, commercial, and civic institutions.
  • Green Community Network Hub: Develop Califia in concert with a network of ecological community projects around the world, sharing solutions for proven green development methodologies.

Development Process Goals:

1.Financing: Develop pioneering community-based financing and development approaches, and strategic public/private partnerships.
2.Ecology: Focus on sustainable and/or regenerative design solutions wherever possible in answering Califia’s fundamental questions regarding energy use, food production, construction techniques/materials, transportation, etc
3.Values: Propagate the interdependent values of social justice and ecological sustainability.
4.Social: Use social network enhanced decision-making processes for accelerated project development, including sustainable lifestyle guidelines and systems, and the ongoing function and evolution of the Califia community.
5.Creativity: Encourage biomimetic design, aesthetics and lifestyles.

The concept of Califia emerged out of the research and development work of the Green Century Institute as a further evolution of various first generation eco-city design implementations across the globe, among them GCI partner projects Arcosanti in central Arizona and Auroville in Southern India. Drawing partially upon these eco-city implementations as well as their theoretical backing, we envision Califia as a leading edge eco-development joining next generation green architectural design principles and information systems into integral human living environments for the 21st century. Key to the design will be the innovative social meshwork underlying it, which will be implemented in a flexible mixed-use project combining traditional and cohousing-style residential development – a full suite of community, commercial, and social spaces to maximize human potential and group interactions.

(from left): Climate Zone 1 (1976), Arcosanti 2000 (1993), Nudging Space Arcology (2000) – Model arcologies designed by Paolo Soleri.
(from left): Canal City, Fukuoka, Japan (1996), Core Pacific City, Taipai, Taiwan (2001, under construction), Santa Fe Town Center, Mexico City, Mexico (1993, proposed) – Urban design projects developed by Jon Jerde’s Jerde Partnership International.

Proposed Features and Components of Califia

Location: within 30 minutes of San Francisco/Oakland metropolitan area
Space use: 50% living, 25% commercial/public, 25% public/circulation/services
LEED-certified development from the US Green Building Counsel (
Sustainable design and technology features
Digital network/media infrastructure
“Social capital” real estate investment programs
Advanced horticulture and permaculture – farms, greenhouses, parks, small gardens
Performing arts center / Art retreat center
Healing and spiritual practice center
High tech research laboratories / Museum of Information Design – sponsored by Bay Area technology firms
Green Community Network headquarters and meeting facilities

Active Advisors
Two world leaders in urban design, Paolo Soleri’s Cosanti Foundation and Jon Jerde’s Jerde Partnership International, are making significant in-kind contributions to the conception and design of Califia. Other Active Advisors for the Califia project, such as Liz Burdock and Martin Samuels, are pioneering sustainable development of new communities through a variety of significant initiatives.

Paolo Soleri, renowned for his ecological design ideas, built Arcosanti in central Arizona, a mixed-use model arcology or “urban laboratory” as he calls it in central Arizona.

The Jerde Partnership International in Los Angeles, founded by Jon Jerde, is currently considered the leading urban design firm internationally. With over 100 major projects around the world, including several billion dollar-plus mixed use developments in major urban centers such as Tokyo, Taipai, Seoul, Mexico City and Rotterdam. Soleri and Jerde are both contributing early conceptual designs for Califia. GCI plans to involve both groups in broader feasibility research and design development as the project’s funding program evolves.

Liz Burdock, VP of Sustainable Development, Dutko Group, Washington, D.C., former Director of PATH program for sustainable development in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development