Sustainable Home Meets Platinum Standards

VENICE, CA— When carving a new path, the pioneering spirit rests with those who take the first step and lead others in a new direction. To create California’s first Platinum LEED (The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) home, that responsibility fell on the shoulders of Tom Schey, president of Minimal Productions, LLC.

Along with partner and environmentalist Kelly Meyer and environmental architect Melinda Gray, Schey created project7ten, a conventional constructed home at 710 Milwood Ave. in Venice. The contemporary home, which integrates green, sustainable and recycled products, proves to home builders and homeowners that being environmentally conscious does not have to sacrifice great design.

The home was open to the public during the fall, with the majority of the proceeds being donated to Healthy Child Healthy World (HCHW), an organization dedicated to educating the public about environmental toxins that affect children’s health.

Clean and Green

The kitchen at project7ten is very straight and lineal, a design that Schey favors. “When building houses, I try to create kitchens that have as few returns and corners as possible,” he comments. “I believe it creates a more efficient kitchen that provides access to everything when you have a big, long island in front of a long row of cabinets.”

The cabinets here are bamboo fascia, and run 18' along the rear wall, with a 14' island opposite with open shelving for pots and pans. An appliance garage with metal tambour door is also featured to the right of the main sink along the rear wall. “But I don’t like to overload the kitchen with cabinets,” Schey notes.

As part of that belief, he leans toward the use of pantries whenever possible, as is the case with this showhouse kitchen. “With the way people live, having food and small appliances stored in a bunch of cabinets in the kitchen isn’t as practical as keeping the room open and then having a large pantry,” he offers. “A pantry is just so much more orderly. You can see what’s there instead of dealing with cabinets that have limited access.”

This type of layout not only provides easier access, Schey says, but allows for seamless passageways between one living area and the next. “So, the kitchen at 710 is without walls and barriers. It is located right next to a dining area as well as a large seating area, all of which overlook the indoor/outdoor garden that we created,” he states.

That outdoor area, which is easily accessible from the kitchen, features a cooking area that includes a GE Monogram 36" Natural Gas Grill. The outdoor cooking center allows homeowners to take advantage of the Southern California weather.

Appliances within the kitchen, which are all Energy Star rated, include a 48" Built-In GE Monogram refrigerator at the far right end of the rear wall; a 30" GE Electronic Wall Oven with Trivection technology, 30" Built-In GE Advantium Oven and 30" GE Warming Drawer at the far left side of the rear wall, and a GE Monogram dishwasher to the left of the Kohler stainless steel sink and faucet in the center.

A 36" Professional 4-Burner Cooktop with Grill is featured on the island, topped with a 36" Slide Out Hood – both from GE. A long, architectural, narrow prep sink and faucet from Kohler are also part of the island’s design.

All of the island offerings are set into a long expanse of CaesarStone in its vivid Apple Martini shade. The color ties into the overall green theme of the home, and is the place where the home’s creators had some fun. The material is also used as the backsplash along the rear wall, contrasting against rear CaesarStone counters in Concrete.

And, though Schey points out that CaesarStone is not a typical green product because it is not recycled and isn’t a sustainable material, “it has another quality that is incredibly green, which is durability,” he stresses. The company also maintains eco-friendly manufacturing processes, which makes it a strong choice for green projects.

The island features a cantilevered seating area made from Paralam – a recycled board that is milled down and finished. “It gives the whole island texture,” stresses Schey.

An exposed Paralam beam on a portion of the ceiling mirrors the eating area of the island.

Added Touches

The room’s design – linear with no returns and walls – took advantage of the natural light, a significant green design element.

“There is natural light behind the cabinets and along the counter wall,” Schey explains. “The kitchen is surrounded by three areas of natural light.

And, according to Schey, the lighting fixtures that were placed throughout the room are very energy advanced.

“The pendant lights located over the island are LED, which should have a life expectancy of 15 years. They put off no heat and use very little energy,” he notes. “And, hanging fluorescents encased in aluminum hang over the cook area.

The cement flooring is highly durable and features significant recycled content. “It also has embedded radiant heat, which makes it comfortable to walk around barefoot,” notes Schey. It is sealed in a non-toxic satin sheen.