San Francisco Bay-area housing nonprofits the Suburban Alternatives Land Trust (SALT) and Northbay Family Homes (NFH) have launched the California Senior Housing Design Competition to generate suburban senior housing ideas for possible implementation on land located in Novato, Calif. The competition is intended, in part, to draw attention to the ways communities around the nation can use land banking to address future housing needs, and to demonstrate zero-energy solutions for affordable seniors housing.

The land, which was donated to SALT, includes two adjacent sites totaling 15 acres and is the last remaining parcel in the Bahia neighborhood that can be developed for residential purposes, SALT reports.

Site plan and housing design submissions must incorporate innovative sustainability solutions, including zero net energy and water conservation solutions, and must demonstrate a range of benefits—from job creation and opportunities for local food production and agriculture to reductions in carbon emissions and costs.

The competition will be held in two juried phases and is open to architects, urban designers, landscape architects, engineers, and other design practitioners licensed in California; out-of-state practitioners may associate with in-state designers. A jury of design practitioners will select five finalists from the first stage to move on to stage two, which will require design responses to jury and community comments, preparation of a study model of the design, and an oral presentation. The board will choose the winning design based on the jury's recommendations and input from staff and the community, and the winner will have the chance to negotiate a contract to implement the winning design.

SALT and NFH hope to replicate the competition in the future and welcome additional land donations.

Registration for the competition ends Nov. 15, 2009, when first-stage entries are due. A downloadable competition kit of objectives, design goals, and entry guidelines will be posted at the competition website by August 21. A competition briefing will be held September 14 at the Marin Sail and Power Squadron Room in Novato, followed by a site tour. Visit for complete details.