Living in Nigeria as a child, Anyeley Hallová observed firsthand the social and economic hardships endured by people living on the margins without adequate clean water or basic infrastructure. Later, as a student studying sustainable development in Costa Rica in the 1990s, she was introduced to environmental sustainability and its relationship to equity.
Those experiences seeded Hallová’s combined passions for developing sustainable real estate projects focused on economic and social equity for BIPOC communities (Black, Indigenous, and people of color).
The self-confidence to turn her passions into real-world solutions emerged when she was named a Cornell University National Scholar. “I knew I was a good student, but when I learned that this award was only given to the top two percent of entrants, at that moment I realized ‘I can do this, I’m right where I should be.’’
After earning a degree in environmental systems technology at Cornell, and graduate work in urban planning at MIT and landscape architecture at Harvard, Hallová worked as an urban designer in Atlanta but quickly realized that developers hold much of the power in determining a project’s level of sustainability, so she changed career paths. Hallová joined a premier sustainable development company in Portland, and later became a partner at a development firm, called “project^”.
While at project^, Hallová led research and development for Framework, the first high-rise building made from wood to be permitted in the United States. During its project run, from 2015 to 2017, Framework received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition to test the product’s safety and benefits for use in high-rise construction. The grant was sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The project was ultimately not built due to changes in the affordable housing tax credit market, but its open-source data helped to change the International Building Code and launch the mass timber industry nationally.
Invented in Germany 40 years ago, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a mass timber-engineered wood product made by gluing together layers of wood to create a light wood product with strong structural integrity that rivals the load-bearing capacity of concrete and steel.
European developers have been using CLT to build high-rises for over two decades, but it only became legal in the United States in 2018, when Oregon revised its building code to include this product in high-rise construction.
The U.S. building industry has been slow to adopt mass timber, mainly due to its lack of availability, but that is changing. According to Hallová , there were only three CLT manufacturing facilities in North America at the time of Framework with only one in the U.S; now there are 11.
Hallová has used mass timber products in other projects and cites its many benefits in creating aesthetically beautiful, cost-efficient, sustainable projects.
“Wood is renewable, captures carbon, and is recyclable, as it can be reused when the building’s life cycle is over,” she said. Research into the sustainability of hybrid, mid-rise CLT commercial buildings revealed a 15-26 percent reduction in global warming potential compared to a concrete building, depending on the building design. Additionally, Hallová points out that mass timber can be sourced from forests and manufactured locally.
Time is money in the building industry, and Hallová notes that CLT building components can be prefabricated in a factory and quickly assembled on site. T3 Minneapolis, a 220,000-square-foot (20,439 sq m), seven-story mass timber office building in Minneapolis was built in just 2.5 months, or one floor every nine days. Its ability to cut construction time has made it a good candidate for replacing housing damaged in wildfires.
The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition (OMTC) was recently awarded a $41.4 million grant application led by the Port of Portland from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The grant will be used to expand the production and use of mass timber to address three significant issues across Oregon: the worsening housing shortage, the increasing threat of wildfires, and the creation of good-paying jobs in communities still recovering from the pandemic. The EDA’s $1-billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge—a signature initiative of the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan, aims to boost economic recovery from the pandemic and rebuild American communities, including those grappling with decades of disinvestment.
This grant also provides funding for:
- Developing a CLT manufacturing facility in Portland;
- Restoration activities in the Willamette National Forest;
- Seeding public-private partnerships to grow employment in the production of mass timber housing;
- Updating building codes in communities recently impacted by wildfires to support modular CLT home construction; and
- Engaging communities and builders in areas affected by wildfires.
Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Department, where Hallová serves as commission Chair, is part of the coalition that will conduct community engagement and create model development codes around the state prioritizing wildfire-affected areas.
Hallová notes that wood provides a variety of textures and colors that create a warm and pleasing feeling. The aesthetic and biophilic benefits of wood are also market differentiators that can boost a project’s value, generate premium rents, and contribute to occupant well-being, according to experts who presented at the 2022 International Mass Timber Conference in April. These experts also noted that Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Microsoft, Adidas, and Walmart, are now incorporating mass timber into their workplaces to retain employees, attract new talent and boost morale and productivity.
According to a 2022 global audit by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, there are now 84 mass timber buildings of eight stories or taller completed or under construction worldwide. Five of these buildings are in the United States, including the tallest one—the 25-story Ascent in Milwaukee, which is a luxury apartment project with ground-level retail that opened in July 2022.
The last project Hallová completed before starting her new company Adre, was the Meyer Memorial Trust Headquarters which is recognized as a model for responsible and equitable development. The building garnered 15 awards, including the 2022 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Americas Awards of Excellence and the 2022 COTE Top Ten Award from the National American Institute of Architects.
Anyeley’s new venture, Adre is a real estate development firm that focuses on projects that create a prosperous life for people and groups that traditionally lack access to real estate ownership and investment. Her company also engages in diverse contracting practices, setting a goal of 30 percent or more BIPOC- or women-owned business participation.
Her decision to establish Adre in 2020 came partly in response to the rise of Black Lives Matter, which she likens to a second Civil Rights Movement. Anyeley notes that nearly 60 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, People of Color are still left out of the American Dream of homeownership—the most common way middle-income families build wealth.
A member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) board, Anyeley targets LEED or Earth Advantage certification on her projects. She drives toward net-zero energy (NZE) but it’s not always possible. Anyeley explains that the level of energy efficiency depends on the project’s scope of opportunity, including sustainability-focused funding.
Anyeley notes that the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF), an initiative passed by 65 percent of Portland voters in November 2018, provides sustainability resources to local nonprofits to ensure Portland’s climate-action efforts benefit all Portlanders, particularly communities of color and people with low incomes.
Two Adre projects currently in pre-development will receive funding from PCEF: the Building United Futures Complex and the communal office building of the Williams & Russell Project.
Building United Futures Complex, a 33,000-square-foot (3,065.8 sq m) office-retail project of the Black United Fund of Oregon, is targeting LEED v4 Gold certification and will house the Black United Fund and a consortium of nonprofit organizations, programs, and businesses focused on empowering BIPOC communities to enhance their educational advancement, economic mobility, and social liberation.
The 168,000-square-foot (15,607.7 sq m) Williams & Russell Project will provide affordable for-sale and rental housing, as well as office and retail space. This project, which occupies a city block, will create opportunities for Portland’s Black community in various forms: through business enterprise, career development, art and expression, and wealth creation through homeownership.
Another Adre development, the Killingsworth Project is a creative office project which garnered one of six winning proposals in the Mass Timber Competition: Building to Net-Zero Carbon. The competition was sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the Softwood Lumber Board, and winners were announced at the AIA’s annual conference in Chicago in July 2022.
Designed by LEVER Architecture, the resilient three-story structure showcases CLT rocking-wall technology which allows the building to rock and re-center after a major earthquake with little or no damage. It will serve as a demonstration project for advanced seismic technology that exceeds the code for buildings between three and 12 stories.
It’s rare to find a woman, let alone an African-American woman, in the role of a real estate developer. Anyeley admits that it hasn’t come easy. There are also ongoing challenges as she doesn’t have a wealthy personal network to support her efforts. Her need to secure project investors and donors, in addition to her development work, means she wears many hats and works long hours.
Anyeley has never let gender or race stand in the way of achieving what she sets out to do, and her determined spirit, skill, and leadership have been widely recognized with various awards, including ULI’s 40 under 40 in 2016, which recognizes the best and brightest young land-use professionals from around the globe.
More recently, she was named among the 2022 Grist 50, which identifies emerging U.S. leaders in climate, equity, and sustainability working on fresh, real-world solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.
Anyeley understands the difficulty of pushing catalytic, mission-oriented projects forward in an exclusionary industry. She hopes that a new interest in ESG and social equity will result in greater partners, lenders, impact investors, and foundations willing to fund climate-justice and equity-centered real estate development projects.