Los Angeles home earns green building honors

Los Angeles home earns green building honors

by Conor Lee

Los Angeles has always been at the forefront of sustainable design and green building. There's the Robert Redford Building in Santa Monica, the Lakeview Terrace Branch of the Los Angeles Library and the Audubon Center in Northeast Los Angeles - all well known Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum commercial and public projects. But the city also boasts the first LEED platinum rated residence in the United States.

Designed by Ray Kappe and built by LivingHomes, this contemporary home in Santa Monica received its certification in August 2006 and now serves as a functioning model home. "We wanted our buyers to understand [green building]," says Steve Glenn, LivingHomes CEO who lives in the house. "We hope to give [people] the grounds for comparison."

Kappe incorporated green elements early in the design phase, a key technique when building green, according to Lance Williams, executive director of the U.S. Greeen Building Council's Los Angeles chapter. "A LEED certified home will cost only 2 percent more if you start at the design phase," Williams says. "It brings down the added cost of adding green elements."

Glenn's company also built the prefabricated home with 75 percent less waste than a conventional construction project. "Prefabrication reduces construction waste greatly," Glenn says. "You could collect in one bucket the waste generated by assembling [this home] at the factory as opposed to assembling on site in the traditional manner."

Because most homeowners complete major renovations every few years, wasting natural resources, Glenn decided to put in movable walls and a structural system that allow for easy additions, just in case a future owner decides to tackle a remodeling project.

Many features in the home aim to make the space a healthier place to live. Glenn's company achieved this by using paint from AFM Safecoat that emits low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds and a fan from Tamarack tied into the garage door system that automatically clears the garage of any carbon monoxide exhaust. In addition, his Paperstone kitchen countertops contain 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and his doors and windows are made of Forest Stewardship Council-certifed wood.

Glenn's home is also extremely energy efficient, saving both resources and cash. There's a photovoltaic solar system from Permacity/Gridpoint, Energy Star appliances from Bosch, Permlight LED lights and Polygal polycarbonate glazing on the windows, which have greater thermal properties than regular glass. "[This home] has a 'sustainability dashboard' which allows the homeowner to track how much energy they're generating and consuming," Glenn says. "It assigns real values to what is often an abstract notion: consumption."

Although Glenn's pleased with the energy savings, he says just being able to live in such a special environment convinced him he made the right decision to go green. "It's warm and comfortable with lots of space and windows," Glenn says. "The natural light is truly amazing."

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