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Fair Oaks Commons: DAHLIN and Alta Housing’s Award-Winning Affordable and Sustainable Development

The LEED Platinum complex provides veterans with affordable housing and supportive services

By Yvonne Nguyen

Fair Oaks Commons in Redwood City, Calif. provides much needed affordable housing and supportive services to homeless veterans and those with special needs.

Redwood City is located in one of the most expensive counties in California and has a significant homeless population. Fair Oaks Commons was created to address the housing crisis by providing 67 total units of housing. The community offers 61 studio units, five one-bedroom units and one manager’s unit priced from 30-60% area median income (AMI). This project is 100% affordable to individuals at less than 70% AMI. The resident demographic is veterans, formerly homeless and those with special needs; most residents are below 50% AMI and half of the households are less than 30% AMI. The community also provides services from The Menlo Park Veterans Affairs Office, County of San Mateo Behavioral Health & Recovery Services and the Mental Health Association of San Mateo.

Fairs Oaks Commons is designed by DAHLIN, a diverse architecture, planning and interiors firm working with developers, municipalities, and private clients across a diversified portfolio of residential, commercial, institutional and civic work, and developed by Alta Housing, an independent non-profit agency that builds, develops, acquires and manages low- and moderate-income housing.

Fair Oaks Commons was created to address the housing crisis by providing 67 total units of housing.

Not only is the community providing much needed housing, it is also a beacon of sustainability. Fair Oaks Commons was awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) a 2022 LEED Homes Awards for Outstanding Multifamily Projects.

As described in a press release from the USGBC, “the project is centrally located, infill, compact and walkable with access to transit earning close to the maximum number of points for Location and Transportation. The team took a deep dive into water savings, exceeding California’s already progressive code for all plumbing fixtures including UHET toilets at 0.8 GPF. The maximum number of points were achieved for energy usage. High efficiency water heaters were coupled 23 SEER mini splits providing unrivaled efficiency inside the units. Windows were fine-tuned to the local climate to find SHGC values that kept the unit warm in winter and cool in summer. A large 43 kW photovoltaic system sits on the roof. Air sealing was also a primary focus where the enhanced compartmentalization credit was earned. All paints, coatings, adhesives and sealants were reviewed and verified. In many cases, California and LEED standards were greatly exceeding such as in the zero VOC paints used. The maximum number of regional priority points was awarded as the design team focused on what made sense to their local climate. Fair Oaks Commons is a lesson in what project teams can achieve when they take a holistic approach to sustainability and tackle every option available to them head on.”

Yvonne Nguyen is Editor of Green Home Builder Magazine. She can be reached at