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

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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