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Loving to Shower with RainStick with Alisha McFetridge
“…what can we do in terms of water and energy? Something that's super decentralized that doesn't make people compromise. And we started to look at where water is used most within the residential home and 50% of that water use stems from the bathroom. It's quite alarming when you start looking at how much we actually use in terms of water.” - Alisha McFetridge A typical 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons, whereas Rainstick Shower uses under 5 gallons, saving both water and the energy required to heat excess water. Its point-of-use cleaning further reduces costs and environmental impacts. Alisha McFetridge, Co-founder and CEO, detailed Rainstick's recirculation system saves 80% water and energy by reusing shower water up to six times through cleaning and pumping, while maintaining a strong 3 gpm flow. Her background in water management and sustainability led to developing this solution. She also explained the installation process, maintenance as well as the possible upcoming financial incentives. https://rainstickshower.com/ Instagram: @rainstick.shower FB: rainstickshower LinkedIn: rainstickshower
Selling Sustainable Homes with Wayne Beals
“I feel that we have this moral imperative from a business standpoint to preserve our markets. And so, as Realtors, we are advisors. So we explain to our developers, we explain to our buyers, we explain to our sellers how to transact in a way that is most profitable for them. how the Code of Ethics really demands that we understand the products we sell and that we do a better job of representing these products.” - Wayne Beals Wayne Beals is a managing broker at Beals Group of Exit Strategies (https://www.waynebeals.com/) and a fellow Green Realtor in Chicago. Wayne details his upbringing fixing old homes, sparking passion for buildings that led to careers in construction and real estate. Witnessing energy poverty drove focus to efficient housing. He now specializes in all-electric new construction, convinced gas infrastructure worsens problems, developing with partners seeking competitive edge in electrification. While some buyers eagerly seek green, others dismiss features until educated on health, comfort and cost benefits. Appraisals don't recognize value, hindering prices despite certification. He believes that as advisors, realtors must explain sustainability impacts for clients' long term interests. While some resist, normalizing discussion introduces more to benefits, shifting perceptions over time for future-proofing markets. Relying on early adopters, realtors can disrupt competitors by demanding high performance standards. Educating all parties grows receptive audiences. With moral duty to steward resources and public health, the industry must integrate sustainability for viable future operations.
Think Circular: Practical Tips to Sustainable Design
"The new thinking is around circularity. The idea of circularity is the circulation of materials at their highest value for the longest period of time. And when you design with circular systems in mind, you are thinking about the end at the beginning, meaning what's going to happen to this product that we're making? What's going to happen to this house that we're designing at the end of life? Can any of these things be reused again? Can they be made into something else? Can you take and use... send the furniture back to the manufacturer and they'll repair it or even keep it and resell it to somebody else. There are companies that do that. " - Kathryn Soter About a year ago, I interviewed Katie Story, a founder of Good Future Design Alliance (thegfda.com), which she created to educate the professionals in the building and designing industry to reduce the massive waste this industry generates forging a radical new path in the world of design. The new executive director, Kathryn Soter, gives us the update on the organization’s missions as well as some practical tips when designing, redesigning and renovating homes or even when we need to replace a piece of furniture to help reduce waste. • Construction and demolition waste is a massive problem, with 500 million tons generated annually in the US alone. This is equivalent to 100 Great Pyramids of Giza per year. • There are major health impacts from construction waste, including landfill pollution, emissions, and plastic waste. • GFDA aims to connect and educate interior designers, architects, contractors, and manufacturers to adopt low-waste practices. • Homeowners should plan carefully, salvage and reuse materials, and hire trained professionals to reduce waste. Resources mentioned: - Chairish - Renovation Angel - Rheaply - 1stDib
Back to Basics: Sustainable Construction Innovation with Todd Usher
"I think that we will continue to see high performance sustainability at the forefront of innovation. I think it's going to be a slow transition depending on where you are in the world and where you are in the U.S. So I think we're going to see different rates of adoption. I think all of it is going to become faster as we realize the impacts of climate change. And the same holds true with the other element you mentioned, which is resiliency. So as the climate continues to warm, storms are going to be more severe. Floods are going to be more severe, droughts will be more severe. Hurricanes will be more frequent. And the approach to build buildings and homes that are more resilient to disaster is going to continue to increase. And I think those two are going to go hand-in-hand." -Todd Usher Todd Usher is the founder and president of Addison Homes (addison-homes.com) in South Carolina. Todd has been building high performance homes since 2003 when he discovered Earthcraft House certification. He is passionate about sustainability and building science. In his presentation, he explains the key elements of a sustainable home including insulated building envelope, air sealing, indoor air quality management, efficient equipment like heat pumps, and smart home technology. He also discusses how site orientation, window placement, roof overhangs, and other passive design strategies are crucial before considering any technology or building techniques. Conversation further explores how energy efficiency strategies can align with strategies for improved health, comfort and resilience.
Doctoring Our Homes with Dan Thomsen
“Building science for these principles and tools to measure and test homes and treat them as an interconnected thing so that all the systems work together and you can achieve better results by looking at the house as a system.” - Dan Thomsen Dan Thompson, the owner and founder of Building Doctors (www.buildingdoctors.com), shares his journey from flipping homes to becoming an energy auditor and contractor. He was inspired to enter the green industry after attending a GoGreen Expo and hearing a talk by an environmentalist, leading him to start his own company called Building Doctors. Dan's company, conducts comprehensive energy audits using science-based tools to assess homes' energy efficiency. They provide homeowners with a treatment plan based on the audit results, which includes insulation, HVAC system upgrades, and solar installation, aiming to make homes more comfortable, energy-efficient, and valuable. Dan serves on the board of Efficiency First California and the steering committee for Tech Clean California, involving in the preparation to roll out the rebate programs being set forth by Inflation Reduction Act. His passion for improving the energy efficiency of existing homes is palpable.
3.18 Home Certification with Brett Little
"There’s been plenty of studies over the years ranging anywhere from half of a percent to 15 percent in value for certifications. And part of it has to do with the areas, so obviously when you get into areas like parts of Texas and California, Florida, Virginia, we saw value increases partiallybecause I think you have more educated and interested population who cares, and so they bring that value." -Brett Little Brett is the education manager for this non-profit organization, GreenHome Institute, which provides rich sources of educational information and services to empower people to make healthier and more sustainable choices in renovating and constructing the places we live. Brett shares his knowledge and insight into the current green home space; who are participating in the classes and services they offer; how the certifications would help evaluate homes that have implemented sustainability elements while discussing his own journey of certifying his home and how the certification played a role in getting his home evaluated.
Rewarding the Purchase of Green Homes with Kerry Langley
"My model is if you look at the cost of owning a house holistically, is a high performance home better? In most cases I can tell you with all confidence it is. But a lot of people look at first cost, and they say, “wait a minute, this house costs 10,000 bucks more than house B over here, which is code built.” And they’re missing the big picture. My point is that I don’t wanna be the right person in the room, but I wanna be the one who has the most information so people can make the right decision." - Kerry Langley Kerry Langley is a long time industry leader in the field of mortgage lending and founder and CEO of Home Bucks. He was someone who helped me in a challenging moment when negotiating with buyers for my recent listing of a certified green home with an attractive proposition of lower interest rates. He explains how he created a platform to come up with mortgage programs that would fit the buyers needs including the energy efficiency issues. He explains what TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) software is, and how it integrates the information about the home’s energy efficiency/sustainability/disaster resilience as well as other improvements the homeowners may want to make. His new platform HomeBuck$ VIP completely disrupts how a prospective homebuyer goes about selecting the terms of their mortgage loan and in turn gives them the ability to control the total cost of owning their new property. email@example.com
3.16 Market Place for Green Homes with Kari Klaus
"Is my home going to last longer? Is home gonna be more beneficial for me in some ways? Is it gonna be easier to maintain? Am I gonna have lower energy bills and water bils? Is it just gonna be cooler? Is it gonna be like really interesting and fun to have some that also happens to be environmentally friendly? Knowing that information as soon as possible in your home search is more beneficial for you than too far down the line when you doing a home inspection or energy audit." - Kari Klaus Kari Klaus, the founder of Realty Sage (realtysage.com) with a background in sustainable economic development, found inspiration to create a platform of market place for green homes while she was renovating her own home to be more sustainable. Kari shares her experience and challenges of promoting energy-efficient homes and the creation of Realty Sage, a platform that educates and incentivizes sellers to invest in green properties. The platform evolved over time, launching in 2016 and expanding to include Realty Sage Pro's in 2020, connecting real estate agents with home buyers nationwide. While Realty Sage has received positive response from the market, we both recognize the deficiencies in the real estate industry and the need for more information and transparency for consumers.
3.15 Regenerative Retrofit with Ryan McEvoy
"So I make electricity from the sun. With that electricity, I make water out of air. With that water, it goes to the pressure tank. That pressure tank would then take it to the water heater. The water heater is a heat pump water heater, which we use the electricity from the sun to heat the water heater. The bi-product of water heater is the air conditioning. That’s the only air conditioning we would use, which we pipe the air conditioning out of the water heater into the house. Then you take a shower, and that shower water goes out to my fruit trees in the front yard, and that was all gravity fed. So make electricity, make water, heat the water with the electricity from the sun, shower then feed the fruit trees." - Ryan McEvoy Ryan McEvoy, a principal and founder of Gaia Development. While Gaia Development has an impressive track record of developing and/or consulting for more than 500 sustainable buildings around the world, our conversation was about Campbell Collective, which is a residential property he bought and renovated in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles guided by the Living Building Challenge garnering Zero-Energy Certification. Ryan explains why he chose to go with the Living Building Challenge (LBC) program as opposed to LEED, and how the process of putting together his net-positive water and net-positive energy went, and how he ended up with three petals out of seven for LBC. With regenerative and permaculture design, the place is now an urban farm oasis providing the community with fruits, vegetables and herbs. As he prepares the property for an upcoming home tour for USGBC-LA in November, he shares with us the challenges he had so far and the vision he has for the property for the future. Gaia Development: https://www.gaiadevelopment.com/ Living Building Challenge: https://living-future.org/lbc/ USGBC-LA Home Tour: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/campbell-house-tour-tickets-708784281867
Eco flip Debrief with Jenny Acosta
In the beginning, just because a lot of people, like I said before, a lot of people, they don't know, or they have not conscious of what's going on in the world, and how they can save money and electricity, gas, or the more healthy. A lot of people aren’t sure. So I was a little hesitant in the beginning. I said, how we're going to market this property and to get the price that we want. Because of course, to do those changes, we add more and more budgets, more money for budgets. Now we have to raise the price, the listing price, is no more budget. In the beginning, so we were a little concerned, but everything came out good. - Jenny Acosta Jenny Acosta and I met through Women in Real Estate (WREN: www.wreninspires.com) back in 2018 as I was trying to learn more about flipping houses. My motivation was simply to create more green homes that I can sell as a Green Realtor. Jenny is a successful real estate investor, who has been “flipping” homes in Los Angeles since 2015, now in Austin, Texas as well. Over the years, I have talked to Jenny about doing her flip projects “green,” and we finally had an opportunity to collaborate on her most recent project to make a certified green home. This conversation was recorded a few days after we closed escrow. We discussed what we did, some challenges, and the outcome.
14810 Sutton St by Kallisto Homes
Welcome to your sanctuary nestled in the heart of Sherman Oaks - an extensively renovated home that blends eco-conscious living with luxurious comfort boasting Gold Pearl Certification reflecting its commitment to sustainability. With an all-electric solar-ready design, energy efficiency is at the forefront, reducing your carbon footprint and saving on utilities. Step inside and be enchanted by the bright, inviting ambiance. The high ceilings and open floor plan are perfect for relaxation and entertaining designed to support health and wellness. This high performance home features a brand-new electrical, plumbing system, a heat pump HVAC system and a heat pump water heater for efficiency and reliability for years to come. Control the indoor climate effortlessly with the smart thermostat for ultimate comfort. Designer LED lighting illuminates the space elegantly while conserving energy. The gourmet kitchen is complete with custom cabinetry, quartz countertops, and high-end Thermador stainless steel appliances, including a microwave and oven. The spacious living and dining areas offer a harmonious setting for family gatherings or hosting guests with the grand chandelier and the enticing electric fireplace with Venetian Plaster & Wood Panels. Sliding doors open to a large yard and patio, offering the perfect setting for al fresco dining and gatherings. Restorative features include the landscaped backyard with a brand new sparkling pool and a spa, built-in BBQ patio area, and a terrace with a fire pit, an ideal setting for entertaining or unwinding after a long day. The primary suite is a serene retreat for regeneration with an accent wall, a large walk-in closet with cabinetry, ceiling fan, and sliding doors to the yard. The in-suite master bathroom features a soaking tub, rain-shower, and skylight, bathing the space in natural light. Two additional bedrooms provide comfortable and private living spaces with well-appointed full bathrooms. Convenience meets sustainability with a two-car garage equipped with a level 2 EV charger. Ring Doorbell provides added security. Stay connected with WIFI and TV wiring in each room plus the wired sound system in the living room, dining room, kitchen, and outdoors. Easy access to Ventura Blvd, 405 & 101 freeways, recognized award winning schools such as Dixie Canyon Elementary, Notre Dame HS, and The Buckley School. Close to everything while enjoying the tranquility of an exclusive South of the Boulevard neighborhood.
It was a long time in coming. I worked with a reputed real estate developer to do this renovation project consciously to update this home built in 1950s to the 21st Century system of energy efficient high performing home. Thank you so much for my partner @KalliscoHomes for a great job of making such a beautiful home that combines the sustainability with luxury living! The home has earned Pearl Gold Certification, only one of two homes in Los Angeles County. As my recent podcast guest coined as "eco-flip," it is indeed an eco-conscious transformation although there are certainly more you can do with this home such as installing solar panels and power storage; and even making the landscape more California Native. Still it is quite a feat, and I'm so proud of it!
14810 Sutton St Sherman Oaks
Welcome to your sanctuary nestled in the heart of Sherman Oaks - an extensively renovated home that blends eco-conscious living with luxurious comfort boasting Pearl Certification reflecting its commitment to sustainability. With an all-electric solar-ready design, energy efficiency is at the forefront, reducing your carbon footprint and saving on utilities. Step inside and be enchanted by the bright, inviting ambiance. The high ceilings and open floor plan are perfect for relaxation and entertaining designed to support health and wellness. This high performance home features a brand-new electrical, plumbing system, a heat pump HVAC system and a heat pump water heater for efficiency and reliability for years to come. Control the indoor climate effortlessly with the smart thermostat for ultimate comfort. Designer LED lighting illuminates the space elegantly while conserving energy. The gourmet kitchen is complete with custom cabinetry, quartz countertops, and high-end Thermador stainless steel appliances, including a microwave drawer and oven. The spacious living and dining areas offer a harmonious setting for family gatherings or hosting guests with the grand chandelier and the enticing electric fireplace with Venetian Plaster & Wood Veneer panels. Sliding doors open to a large yard and patio, offering the perfect setting for al fresco dining and gatherings. Restorative features include the landscaped backyard with a brand new sparkling pool and a spa, built-in BBQ grill patio area, and a terrace with a fire pit, an ideal setting for entertaining or unwinding after a long day. The primary suite is a serene retreat for regeneration with an accent wall, a large walk-in closet with cabinetry, ceiling fan, and sliding doors to the yard. The en-suite master bathroom features a soaking tub, rain-shower, and skylight, bathing the space in natural light. Two additional bedrooms provide comfortable and private living spaces with well-appointed full bathrooms. Convenience meets sustainability with a two-car garage equipped with a level 2 EV charger. Ring Doorbell provides added security. Stay connected with WIFI and TV wiring in each room plus the wired sound system in the living room, dining room, kitchen, and outdoors. Easy access to Ventura Blvd, 405 & 101 freeways, recognized award winning schools such as Dixie Canyon Elementary, Notre Dame HS, and The Buckley School. Close to everything while enjoying the tranquility of an exclusive neighborhood.
Ancient Traditions in Wellness Real Estate with El Larson
“I think there’s definitely certain Feng Shui principles and concepts that can and should be used through our architecture. At the same time, it can also be very logical because Feng Shui is based on the natural world, the interactions with the natural world, the operation of the natural world and the flow of energies.” - El Larson El Larson is a wellness real estate agent and Wellness Design Consultant. She combines a wide range of expertise in what makes a home healthy and sustainable incorporating principles such as Feng Shui, biophilic design, land resilience and material health. El discusses the different aspects of wellness in real estate, including the importance of constructing homes with wellness practices. She shares her expertise in her application of Feng Shui, particularly landform and BTB methods, in assessing and enhancing the health and balance of properties. She discusses some examples of the land formation principles, and how it can impact the energy and well-being of individuals; and shares the possibility of remedying certain issues with Feng Shui. How do we incorporate the concept of Feng Shui into wellness real estate and design. www.heare.la
Creating a Field for Eco Flip Part 2
"Literally if you gave me two words to describe you what I’m doing, I would say “eco-flipping.” That is actually what I’d say to you. But there’s a huge difference in what it means because third party certification means adherence to certain standards and have to be not only done but defend it and understood. So the buyer of this home is going to know exactly what is behind all of their walls, what the sources of their materials are, and the processes that went into all of it." - Steve Matloff In this part, Steve Matloff discusses a project in Los Feliz that he and his partners are working on. The project involves renovating a home built in the 1930s and making it relevant for modern living while honoring its legacy. They approached the sellers with letters expressing their desire to buy the home at the full asking price or more and transform it into a demonstration of sustainable home utilization for the next 100 years. The home they chose was in disrepair and had been untouched for several years, making it an ideal candidate for their project. The team aims to change every system in the home to align with modern priorities and advancements. While they want to maintain existing materials, such as the flooring, they plan to reframe the entire second floor to optimize living spaces and take advantage of the beautiful views of the Griffith Observatory and downtown Los Angeles. The challenge lies in balancing form and function and creating a home that offers luxury while significantly reducing its carbon footprint. They envision providing a 7,000 to 8,000 square foot home that functions like something much smaller, appealing to buyers who want both space and environmental sustainability. One of the challenges they face is the design aspect, particularly in maintaining the elements of a proper Tudor revival while incorporating green priorities. They want the home to achieve independent third-party certification for its sustainable features and ensure transparency for potential buyers. They aim to provide a book documenting the home's eco-friendly features and the points accumulated for third-party certification, giving buyers a clear understanding of what lies behind the walls and the environmental impact of the home. The team is currently in the planning phase, aiming to finalize permit plans in the near future. The vision of Tradicient is, once they successfully execute this project both in renovation and sales, to scale this model to lower price points properties. ******** LA Times article by Lisa Boone about Steve’s family home and its landscaping done by FormLA Steve Matloff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Creating a Field of Eco Flip with Steve Matloff
"I want to inspire others who are doing this work but based on a different set of priorities, who understand that this priority of sustainability, of efficiencies of resources and processes, of reduction of wastes of all sorts including the carbon is valued. And you should be incorporating those priorities into your project." - Steve Matloff Steve Matloff is a “sustainable real estate RE-developer,” CEO and founder of Tradicient, which is a business name that combines the two words, “tradition” and “efficient.” Steve believes that the majority of our built environment was designed and developed for a different world and different times. Over the years, the world has changed significantly, with population growth, the introduction of convenience products, changes in the definition of quality of life, and increased consumption. Our existing built environment, including millions of homes and buildings, was not designed to meet these new circumstances. Therefore, redevelopment is necessary to prioritize efficiency in resource utilization, waste reduction, and urban development. He shares his personal journey and how his love for architecture and design combined with his awareness of environmental impact led him to focus on sustainability in the built environment. He emphasizes the need for a market that offers existing homes with modern functionality and efficiency. He started out with his own family home, built in 1922. He wanted to find professionals who could maintain the historical characteristics of the home while making it efficient. However, he couldn't find anyone who specialized in this type of work. Steve emphasizes the importance of renovating and retrofitting the existing built environment instead of starting from scratch, as the waste generated from demolishing and rebuilding would be immense. To address this gap, Steve formed Tradicient. He sought to make his own family's home a LEED Platinum-certified property, the highest level of certification for sustainable homes. He collaborated with professionals on maintaining the aesthetic and historical characteristics of the home while incorporating efficient and sustainable features. Overall, Steve's goal with Tradicient is to create a market for efficient, sustainable redevelopment of existing homes. He believes it's crucial to preserve and enhance the built environment while aligning it with modern sustainability standards. • LA Times article by Lisa Boone about Steve’s family home and its landscaping done by FormLA (https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-09-12/los-angeles-homeowners-remove-turf-for-leed-certified-drought-tolerant-landscaping) • Steve Matloff: email@example.com
Let's Compost with Cordelia O'Rouke!
"From the environmental aspect, composing has so many benefits. When you compost your food instead of throw way in the landfill, it gets proper aeration and it has oxygen to properly decompose so it doesn't release harmful greenhouse gasses like methane into the environment. So it's helping kind of the global warming movement on one aspect. And then from another lens, I'm taking AP environmental science right now and my teacher was talking about how one of the main reasons that they're requiring compost in California is because they're running out of landfill space. And so landfill space is obviously really detrimental to a lot of ecosystems because you're displacing those natural lands to put in manmade things like the landfills. And so when we compost our food, we're not taking up those lands and taking those lands away from natural ecosystems. And lastly, composting is known as black gold. And so, compost is really valuable to a lot of plants, and so, when we compost instead of just throwing it away, we create that natural fertilizer, so composting also reduces the use of synthetic fertilizers, which cause so many problems in the ecosystem. " - Cordelia O'Rouke Grades of Green (https://gradesofgreen.org/) is an international non-profit organization, originally founded in Southern California by moms to “educate, empower and inspire students to take action and achieve long lasting environmental impact in their schools and communities.” Special Project Manager, Glenn Arnade, proudly introduced me to a high-school student named Cordelia O’Rouke, who spearheaded a program to get local schools to start composting the food scraps from their cafeterias. In California, the State Senate Bill 1383 (https://calrecycle.ca.gov/organics/slcp/resources/) enacted in January 2022 requires the food and compostable materials be kept out of the landfill. Empowered by the bill and the support/structure provided by Grades of Green, Cordelia has so far reached approximately 4,000 students at 4 different schools and trained them to engage in composting programs to divert the cafeteria food scraps. Cordelia discussed the benefits of composting and how it can help the environment by reducing greenhouse gasses and landfill space, and also shared tips on how to compost, including adding more brown waste and finding the right composting method based on individual goals and living situations.
Preventing Cancer at Home with Melanie Palomares
"You know, I thought, I know about your podcast and I'm really thinking about what I can contribute in. It's really quite numerous. And so as I said, very little hereditary and so most of it is environmental. So one thing I want to say, it's tangential to your question, but I don't want it to be lost. It is family history and non-hereditary because we also share environments, share homes, maybe sometimes workplaces, and so it's not always that there's a gene." -Melanie Palomares I have had episodes to talk about what makes a home healthy in comparison to home being “green.” I would say most of us who are interested in “green homes” would probably want our homes to be healthy. So I wanted to talk to a medical professional who can give a perspective from the medical standpoint of prevention. What is it that we should all be aware of so that we know our homes are a place of nourishment and healing. Today, I have a guest named Melanie Palomares. She is an MD-MS. She's affectionately known as Dr. Mel as a preventive oncologist and founder of Cancer Prevention Movement. We discussed the various environmental factors that can contribute to cancer, including pollution, cleaning products, water and air quality., and exposure to EMS. We also talked about the importance of awareness and prevention, such as using filters and detectors, and making lifestyle changes to reduce exposure to harmful substances. Melanie offers various cancer prevention strategies including the importance of diet, exercise, and environmental factors. Jue 4 is a National Cancer Survivors’ Day, which celebrates cancer survivors and highlights the need for prevention. Melanie’s foundation: https://canpreventmovement.org/
Changing the Perception of Green Homes with Alter Eco
“Part of that is to be able to honestly and clearly articulate the difference between cost, especially the upfront cost and long term value, obviously the fiscal value of something that works as your monthly output is less for that. And that money can go towards small add to your mortgage. But there’s also these amazing soft cost value that people don’t know. You can’t quite grasp until you’re in. The air quality is amazing. They’re very quiet homes. You don’t have any drafts on the big windows, and you have great light and things like that. Those are the things when you actually bring some people to a home like that. It’s like walking into the nature, you just get that feeling, this is amazing.” Joe Lombardi and Brian Falcon are founders of a home building company, Alter Eco (https://alterecobuild.com/), based in Paoli, Pennsylvania. Joe and Brian, both architects, started their partnership in sustainable and energy-efficient home building after working together in a firm where they encountered difficulties in implementing green building principles due to clients' lack of understanding.They faced pushback from contractors and structural engineers who were used to a certain type of system, but were able to gain exposure and clients through national awards and articulating the importance and benefits of sustainable building. We discussed the sustainable design and construction practices they implement in their architecture firm, including the use of energy-efficient systems, minimizing water waste, and achieving third-party certifications. They also talked about how they have been able to control costs and reduce waste in construction through their integrated design process. the trend of green and sustainable home building, including the use of pre-fabricated and panelized parts, and the importance of considering the embodied carbon of building components. More importantly we talked about the need to educate people on the benefits of sustainable homes and how it doesn't necessarily require a change in lifestyle.
Human Health vs Environmental Health with Andy Pace
"I’m a big believer that if a product or space is human friendly, then by definition, it’s environmentally friendly. I don’t think the same is true in the opposite direction. There are plenty of products that are eco-friendly but still very very dangerous for humans. There’s also plenty of examples of things that are 100% natural that are dangerous for humans." - Andy Pace When I first learned about what we call, “green homes,” the aspect I was most interested in was the “health” factor of what a green home is to provide. As I learned more about what makes a home green, I soon discovered that the definition of “green home” can be rather complex and can be elusive. Soon I realized a “green home” is not necessarily a “healthy home” for certain people. Typically in the green home world, the health or wellness factors often talked about are indoor air quality, comfort, daylighting, access to the outdoors, etc., yet for some people, that’s not enough. Both my guests, Jen Stout and Mike Bender, had a long journey in finding their way to create a home that they could live in without having any reaction. Mike discussed how he worked with Andy in his attempt to create a home that he could live in, so I thought I would go directly to the source. As founder of The Green Design Center (https://www.thegreendesigncenter.com/), Andy Pace is an invaluable worldwide expert in the field of chemical sensitivity, building materials, and non-toxic construction with over 30 years of experience. He is a leading educator for those who suffer from allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities and struggle to create healthy living environments. He is also a host of Non-Toxic Environments podcast (https://www.thegreendesigncenter.com/non-toxic-environments/)
Go Solar with Confidence with Carol Cole Lewis
“So it is one of the most effective things you can do as a homeowner to make a difference to the world with respect to climate is by going solar. So please do not delay because our planet can, well, our planet will be fine, we'll just be dead. We need to make a difference if we want to make this planet a planet where our children and grandchildren are going to be able to enjoy. So make that decision now to go solar. It's not only a great decision from a cost effective perspective, but your grandchildren and their children are going to thank you for the decision you make today.” - Carol Cole-Lewis An independent solar consultant Carol Cole-Lewis and Izumi explored various aspects of solar energy and incentives for homeowners including the transition from Net Energy Metering 2 (NEM2) to a new net energy metering rate plan (NEM3) in California and the importance of battery storage. Carol advises homeowners to choose a reputable installer based on factors such as experience and financial stability. Topics also discussed were the different business models of solar installers and the importance of energy efficiency before going solar. Carol emphasizes the potential benefits of various financing options, including loans, leases, and power purchase agreements. The conversation also touched on tax credits and incentives per Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and the importance of taking action to combat global warming. UpstartEnergy.com Go Solar with Confidence, a book by Carol Cole-Lewis DSIREUSA.ORG - Check available incentives Drawdown.org - Project Drawdown
Quiet House for Hypersensitive People with Mike Bender
“I think especially when you get to the point of EHS, that everybody takes responsibility for their own energy, and that’s part of the healing. Just as important it is to put that metal shielding around those wires as it is to be very mindful of how we’re using our energy, and how we’re treating out bodies.” Michael Bender, an artist and writer by profession, who struggled with increasingly aggravating and mysterious health issues that most doctors couldn’t figure out pretty much all his life after he was bitten by a tick at the age of 11. He was not only sensitive to the typical toxins found in homes, but started to have reactions to some of the most benign home products such as lavender fragrance of his wife’s shampoo. Needless to say, he developed electrical hypersensitivity (EHS), which reacts strongly to electrical signals and what’s commonly known as electro-magnetic field (EMF). After decades of challenges, he finally built a house where he and his family can live by creating a “Quiest Home,” which is a result of his tenacious effort to find solutions in various disciplines and modalities. He shares of a few resources he either used for himself and what he may recommend to others. • Mike’s article, The Quiet House, in Men’s Health Magazine, March 2022 • The Green Design Center, Andy Pace • SafeCoat Paint • IQAir Perfect 16 Air Purifier
Inflation Reduction Act with Cynthia Adams
“A couple of things to know about tax credit. So there’s efficiency tax credit and renewable tax credit. Efficiency tax credits are the ones that were expanded this year. It used to be set at $500 whereas now you can take up to $3,200 in the tax year in which you make the installations. On the renewable side, one thing that’s important to know is that for the first time now battery storage is a part of what you can get 30% tax credit as well. That didn’t use to be the case.” As a part of the new legislation, Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, some financial incentives are now available for home owners and builders to build higher performing residential buildings as well as to improve existing homes for better comfort and efficiency. I have been dying to learn about what IRA has to offer to homeowners and builders so I can guide them to utilize this massive bill. Cynthia Adams, CEO and Co-founder of Pearl Certification generously offered to explain IRA in a nutshell. While there are many moving parts and the mechanics of rebate are still pending, Cynthia offers some information we should be aware of. Incentives are offered in two different types: 1) tax credits for efficiency and renewable energy upgrades; 2) electrification (HEEHRA) and efficiency (HOMES) rebates. Here are some helpful website links Cynthia mentions in our conversation: • Area Median Income Look-up Tool: https://ami-lookup-tool.fanniemae.com/amilookuptool/ • Greendoor.app by Pearl Certification: https://www.greendoor.app/
Constructing Green with Karen Benner
“If I’m speaking to a builder, your home owner, your client is going to be more comfortable, they’re going to be happier; they’re going to be healthier; and they’re going to love living in this home compared to any other home that is less than, and that is something that I think isn’t top of mind for a lot of people when they think about green building. Health and comfort doesn’t always come.” Karen Benner is a building consultant, who has worked in the residential construction industry over 20 years. Once she became aware of the impact construction industry has on the planet in early 2000s, she emersed herself to learn about green building and high performance building, and took it onto herself to inform, encourage and empower the home builders she worked for to build better homes. She has navigated the landscape of the construction industry to shift the mindset from focusing on short-term financial benefit to include long-term benefit, providing guidance to mitigate risks and manage projects with a new perspective of building green. While her experiences were primarily with production builders, Karen sees that once you commit to building sustainably, the business model can be successful and scalable even with smaller builders and developers. Resources Karen mentions in her interviews: • National Association of Home Builders • Enterprise Community Partners
Waste Free Lifestyle with Amanda Cavallo
"I went down the rabbit hall of, “O.K. how can every choice I make as a consumer be made with an idea of thinking about where does this come from, what are actually the ingredients, and materials that are being used; and what happens at the end of life of this product?” Basically, my mission right now is I guess I categorize myself as becoming a zero waste living advocate." Amanda Cavallo is an architect by profession in Santa Monica, though originally from Boston. Throughout her life, she was always in tune with nature and environment. As she works with her architectural clients recommending sustainability design, she was keenly aware of the fact that if she talks the talk, she must walk the walk. She took on herself to live a lifestyle of reducing our waste. With the social media channel, "return_to_earth_collective," she is collecting tips and info on healthy, eco-friendly living, researching natural and low-waste products to share with the public trying to inspire to change one good habit and sustainable swap at a time. Also mentioned in the interview: Dark Green Religion by Bron Taylor
Lowtility with Don Worthington
“When you purchase a home, it’s more than just principal and interest. You’re never going to own a home and not utilities, not have power payment, not have gas payment, and not have water payment. So we said, O.K., let’s talk about PITI plus utilities and then what’s that total payment, then how can we maximize that for home buyers.” - Don Worthington When purchasing homes, home buyers who are financing the purchase would consider what the monthly payment would be. They don’t always take into consideration how much it may cost to operate and maintain the homes, namely the utility bills. In some areas of the country, the heating and/or cooling cost can become exorbitant. Don Worthington introduces Lowtility, a mortgage product that allow the homebuyers to include the cost of energy efficiency improvement in the purchase price as the first mortgage. While there are other similar “green financing” products as were introduced in previous episodes of this podcast, Lowtility approaches the underwriting process with minimized utility bills in the equation. Homebuyers can have energy efficient homes for the same or less amount of monthly payments with little to none utility bills. They service all across the United States except the state of New York. Find out more from Don!
Sustainable Site with Brandon Carlson
"Definition of sustainable site is it promotes land development and management practices with our future in mind. So sustainable sites generate less waste, minimize impact on the landscape, and use less energy, water and natural resources." Brandon is a Sr. Applications Engineer for one of an innovative solar technology company. He was influenced by growing up with a father who was a pioneer of sustainable building professionals. Now that he owns a property of his own up the hills in southeast of Los Angeles near Temecula, he has undertaken a truly regenerative transformation project of what once looked like a deserted property into a home with net-positive energy sanctuary. Brandon shares the strategic approach he has taken to regenerate his home and the land surrounding his home on almost 5-acre of property including decarbonization, water management, and landscaping following the concept of “sustainable site.”
Native Plants for Lazy Gardners with Greg Travis
I think we understand more and more that life webs that we’re all in makes human beings happier and healthier, that there’s things to do to acknowledge those life webs and do what we can do to help it. -Greg Travis Greg Travis is an old friend of mine, who has become an amateur expert on native plants gardening. He and his partner bought their 1908 craftsman they now call home in West Adams area of Los Angeles in 2001. Greg’s primary goal was to have “dirt” where he could do gardening. At the time he was a self-proclaimed “frustrated gardener” and was going through a certificate program for horticulture and garden design. When not many were talking about the native plants yet, one instructor who taught him about the California natives really influenced him, which led him on a journey of creating his dream garden. He transformed the front yard from the typical grass yard into a lush garden that hosts not only a wide variety of native plants, which attracts variety of pollinators like birds, bees and butterflies, requiring little irrigation. Hear how he designed, planted and nurtured his beautiful garden including some of the mistakes he made.
Oakfield Nest - A Story of an Eco-chaplain
Adam, a long-time construction professional, and his family were experiencing health issues when they found their “property” in Redwood City, California. What they wanted was a place where they felt healthy. Yet the property was in such disrepair that his first thought was to demolish and rebuild. Instead he chose to “heal the house and the land that the house was sitting on” in the same way that he wanted to heal the family’s wellbeing. Thus Adam took on a challenge to change the construction process, which is typically very extractive, disruptive and wasteful, into a regenerative process to have a positive impact not just on the environment but also to the local community and local economy. The project touched on the Five Roots of Regenerative Real Estate®: 1) Health and Wellness; 2) Sustainability; 3) Community; 4) Ecology and 5) Spirit, which also relates to the concept of “Eco-chaplain.” (Those who work to establish people in a healthy, compassionate, and mutually supportive relationship with each other and the natural world. - Sati Center of Buddhist Studies) As a result, he was able to accomplish his Vision of truly regenerative project and indeed be an eco-chaplain for himself and his family, the property he turned into his family nest, the people who worked on the project and the surrounding community.
Wellness Homes & Habitats with Diego Torrelio
“I’m a firm believer that the soil health is human health. If we start with the land first, it will reap the fruits of our labor and it’s highly reciprocal.” Diego Torrelio is a Founder and CEO of Circlefoot. Circlefoot is the leading wellness landscaping and construction company based in San Mateo County, California. They design, build, and manage homes, gardens, homesteads, and small farms in San Mateo and beyond with a mission to deliver ecologically regenerative outdoor-indoor living solutions. Driven by the Vision of human being living lightly and in balance on our planet, Diego and his company collaborate with their clients to create not only regenerative living spaces but also promotes more just and ecologically regenerative economy. Diego shares the back story of his professional development and his Vision for future. https://circlefoot.com/
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