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The Green Building Matters Podcast with Charlie Cichetti

Oct 21, 2020

Jeff focuses on public interest architecture and planning. He is the former Executive Director of First Community Housing, a Non-Profit Affordable Housing Developer in San Jose, CA. As Executive Director of FCH, Jeff built the firm into a nationally recognized pioneer [and early adopter] in the development of sustainable, affordable housing. FCH's impressive record of architecturally significant, sustainable affordable housing in the Silicon Valley has been recognized through multiple local, state and national awards, including an AIA/COTE 2009 Top Green Projects Award, an AIA National Housing Award, an AIA California Chapter "Community Housing Honor Assistance Award"​, Boston Society of Architects John M. Clancy Award for Socially Responsible Housing, a USGBC "Super Heroes"​ Award and the State of California GEELA Award for Sustainability. As ED at FCH Jeff developed the first "set-aside" in California for Developmentally Disabled tenants--which is now a core value in all FCH developments.

Under Jeff's leadership, FCH pioneered the integration of "Green"/Vegetative roofs in Affordable Housing Developments.

Jeff has served as a juror on the national AIA/HUD Housing Awards and on the Cradle to Cradle International Ideas Competition and is a frequent speaker at national conferences on Housing, Sustainability and integrating special needs populations. Jeff is a member of the SPUR San Jose Policy Board and Housing Advisory Committee and served on the USGBC 2015 LEED Fellows Selection Committee. He is an expert Integrated Design Team Leader.

Jeff is a member of the AIA California Council Housing Congress exploring the Architects' role in providing solutions to our current housing affordability crisis.

Consultation in: Multifamily Affordable Housing, Incorporating Special Needs Tenants in Multifamily Housing, Urban Design and Design Review, and Social Equity in Design. 


Show Highlights 


  • How the shootings at Kent State inspired how Jeff looked at the community and how  people participate in the environment?
  • Everything you need to know about First Community Housing, why they are hyper aware of toxins, green roofs, and how they became the model beyond affordable housing in their designs. 
  • Integrating green products into your designs so they can’t be value engineered out.
  •  A perfect formula that pulls the community together to design exciting architecture for people with developmental disabilities.
  • Partnering with organizations like Enterprise Community Foundations and the Living Building can help meet some challenges with budget. 
  • It’s essential to improve air circulation systems and not let net zero carbon and electricity overshadow using natural  and nontoxic materials.
  •  Stop thinking about sustainability and start thinking about carbon reduction, zero electric and regenerative planning. 



“I left First Community Housing five years ago, all our buildings were LEED Platinum and we're starting to investigate getting a Living Building Future. That is even further than LEED. Now I realize that's passe right now, because we really need to be looking at all electric buildings, zero electric, new materials, maybe photo glass that are going to change things. Just being sustainable is not enough anymore.”


- Jeff Oberdorfer



Jeff Oberdorfer Transcript


Jeff Oberdorfer’s Show Resource and Information


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