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Lisa Napoli: This week we got a sneak peek at something very cool: a totally green house being constructed here in Los Angeles.
Steve Glenn: It’s a 4200 square foot home.
Steve Glenn did a walk through with us at the top secret location near the end of a cul-de-sac in Brentwood. His company Living Homes is all about environmentally friendly buildings and he’s built this demo with Wired Magazine.
Glenn: It is a pre-fabricated home. So it was assembled in three days.
Napoli: What can you describe for us; where are we right now, what we’re seeing?
Glenn: We’re on the top floor so this is the kitchen and the dining room, living room over there, the media room over there.
And five bedrooms and baths on the lower level. This is a sleek modern house with giant windows and gorgeous views. but looks are obviously not the point.
Napoli: What can you tell us of what we’re seeing is green?
Glenn: Well, um, sort of everything. So, for example, the concrete that you’re standing on: we mix in fly ash. Fly ash is what you get when you burn coal. The wood on the ceiling and exterior is reclaimed redwood and its in its third use. So it started as a bridge, it was then deconstructed and used for the ceiling of, I think an army barrack, and mow it’s part of this home. Steel — the home is mostly made of steel — is the mostly recycled building material. 50 percent of the content is recycled and you can even source more — basically it’s old cars, steel is. There is insulation is made out of soybean and also cellulose — newspaper mixed with cellulose.
There are low-flow toilets, of course, and the landscaping doesn’t require much watering — essential here in the desert. Then there’s the high-tech part of the house: a home automation system that lets you control the lights, the heating and the cooling, and lets you swap audio and video from room to room.
You’d expect a guy like Steve to drive a Prius, and he does, and this house has a similar kind of dashboard.
Glenn: It shows in real time over the Internet what you’re using in any minute, how much power you’re consuming, how much you’re producing, when you are, from the photovoltaics. You can see carbon averted. You can see money saved.
Now of course most of us don’t have the 300 bucks a square foot to build this kind of environmentally responsible steel and glass wonder, but Steve says you’re starting to see this notion of green seep into all kinds of home building.
Glenn: Cities are either rewarding you if you build in a responsible way or increasingly, requiring it or penalizing you if you don’t. And frankly many of the things are no more expensive than non-sustainably developed counterparts.
And they’ll get cheaper as more people use them.
Glenn: All of the things that are more expensive now will come down with volume. I mean, that’s how things get less expensive — with volume.
And even for those of us who can’t imagine buying any kind of house, Steve says there’s something green every one of us can do right now.
Glenn: If every household in the U.S. were to change one light bulb from incandescent to compact fluorescent, it would be the equivalent of taking a million cars off the streets … that’s huge.
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