Billed as the first homeless shelter in the United States to be built from the ground up using green building technology, Crossroads is being described as a model for public facilities throughout the nation. The new building, which replaces a cramped, cold, damp and leaky one, includes solar panels that defray the high energy costs of operating large residential and service facilities and features other innovations such as a state-of-the-art hydronic heating system, ceiling fans and furniture made from pressed wheat. With windows that can open to let in fresh air and walls painted with non-toxic paint, the new building provides a healthy environment for a populace largely suffering from asthma, allergies, HIV or diabetes. Located in Alameda County, Calif., Crossroads is overseen by the East Oakland Community Project, and can accomodate 125 residents. It also provides the first respite-care area for people recovering from illnesses in the county, a meditation room and a dedicated wing for families. The new shelter cost $11 million to build and was funded primarily by local, state and federal governments.