A central hub for vital climate research in Northern California


LocationEldridge, California, United States
ClientPermit Sonoma, County of Sonoma, California State Coastal Conservancy
Size950 acres

Home to rolling woodland hills, miles of coastline, and the birthplace of California’s modern wine industry, climate change’s impact on Sonoma County spans sea-level rise, wildfires, and droughts, to name a few. To guide the County, region, and beyond towards a more resilient future, the Center for Climate Action & Innovation (CCAI) is envisioned as a central hub for vital climate research, demonstration, and innovation. The CCAI is anticipated to integrate conference facilities, state-of-the-art laboratories, job training centers, and vast open space resources, creating a comprehensive environment for tackling pressing climate issues. Guided by the County, SWA co-led a multidisciplinary team of developers, economists, engineers, architects, and farming consultants to craft a CCAI concept for the grounds of the former Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). The team developed interconnected site and institutional frameworks addressing six key themes of climate resilience: biodiversity, wildfire management, sustainable agriculture, water conservation, mobility, and energy efficiency. SWA led the team in developing CCAI concepts for the site’s landscapes, buildings, and infrastructure.

Drawing on insights from over 50 stakeholder interviews, the team created a detailed business plan outlining an aspirational trajectory for the center. This roadmap will guide the exploration and activation of specific governance models, funding mechanisms, strategic partnerships, and site development strategies essential for CCAI’s success.