A Fabulous Green Prefabricated Home: Living in L.A.

For Steve Glenn of LivingHomes, enjoying a beautiful green modular home is all part of the job.

| July/August 2007

  • Gorgeous, airy views and outdoor living spaces such as balconies, decks and a living roof garden connect this healthy, modular home with its urban environment.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • LivingHomes prefabricated houses are manufactured in modules and assembled on site. This one was constructed in eight hours.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • This modern home will cost less to operate over time because of its energy- and water-efficient appliances.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • Owner Steve Glenn's favorite aspects of the home—volume, texture and complexity—are enhanced by its connection with the outdoors.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • Several separate but open living spaces allow homeowners and visitors to work, chat, cook and watch television in distinct areas, while still being within view of one another.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • Radiant in-floor heating and FSC-certified wood throughout the interior soften the home’s cutting-edge design and make it warm and homey.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • Several systems throughout the home save and repurpose water. The living roof collects stormwater runoff for reuse within the home, while the graywater recycling system provides landscape irrigation.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • The home's upstairs sections include open spaces offering views to the lower levels, furthering its spacious, integrated feel.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • The home features moveable walls and built-in furniture so homeowners can modify the space to suit their needs.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • The kitchen's Paperstone countertops, made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, are available in seven colors and are stain and heat resistant.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • Glenn's home features a rooftop garden. Photovoltaic cells generate energy for the home and serve a dual purpose, creating shelter and a pergola.
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • Living Homes founder and owner Steve Glenn
    Photo By Scott Van Dyke
  • Gorgeous, airy views and outdoor living spaces such as balconies, decks and a living roof garden connect this healthy, modular home with its urban environment.
  • Gorgeous, airy views and outdoor living spaces such as balconies, decks and a living roof garden connect this healthy, modular home with its urban environment.

Perched in an established hillside neighborhood in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood, LivingHomes CEO and founder Steve Glenn’s modernist home is quite a conversation starter. But this is no superficial conversation about how hot prefab has become in the last few years. (Prefabricated houses are manufactured in units and assembled on site.) Steve’s house—which also acts as a model home for his sustainable residential prefab development company—boasts an array of eco-friendly features, from solar panels and a green roof to recycled-cellulose countertops and LED (light-emitting diode) lighting.

The first residence to receive a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes program, the two-story, 2,500-square-foot home is composed of 11 modules that were crafted in a factory and constructed on site in just eight hours. Steve’s home was also named one of the American Institute of Architect’s Top Ten Green Projects for 2007. (We introduced readers to this home in "Your Green Home of the Future" in the March/April 2007 issue.)

We recently visited Steve’s home and asked him about living in this open, airy space.

Natural Home: You live in a zero-energy, zero-carbon, zero-emissions residence. Can you explain what all that means?



Steve Glenn: It would be a misnomer to say we accomplished all of that—those were the design goals we set up to guide the design of all our houses. We’re reclaiming water from the house for irrigation, which is what we mean by zero water. We’re minimizing waste and carbon, as well as VOC offgasing inside the home. Note: VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are toxic chemicals from manufactured items—such as building materials, adhesives and paints—that outgas into the air.]

On this first one, we really didn’t achieve all of these goals. We’re not quite zero on anything. We knew we wouldn’t have zero waste and would have a small level of VOC emissions. The point was to minimize these as much as possible, and we came extremely close. We bought carbon offsets—paying for sustainable companies to perform greenhouse gas-reducing activities such as planting trees—for the home’s first year of operation, and we’ll be zero carbon because of that.



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