‘Living Home’ Embraces Environmental Elements


A growing number of consumers, however, are interested in doing more than just making small changes. For them, the term “environmentally friendly” has become a way of life.

It is those consumers who are the target audience of LivingHomes, according to Steve Glenn, CEO and founder, LivingHomes in Santa Monica, CA.

“We believe that we’re targeting people who care deeply about design and the health and sustainability of the products they buy,” adds Glenn. “We think the home [that we’ve created] reflects the kind of form and functionalities they’re interested in.”
Indeed, that home is one of several “green” models that have been built in a new development in the area that was recently showcased. Constructed using natural and non-toxic materials and systems, it “successfully marries style and substance,” according to the firm.

And, citing its environmental claims, the recently constructed home has received the highest rating possible from the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) new pilot, LEED for Homes rating system. It is the first residential project in the country to attain a Platinum rating for its sustainable construction, and only one of 20 platinum buildings in the U.S.

Open Spaces

Designed by Ray Kappe, FAIA, principal, Ray Kappe Architects and Planners in Pacific Palisades, CA, the home features a contemporary design, “in keeping with its green, modern livable idea,” says Glenn.

The open floor plan was designed to be highly conducive to entertaining both indoors and out. A rear, U-shaped area includes all of the kitchen’s appliances and fixtures to allow for easier movement in the open space.

“The idea was that everything was pretty much contained in the kitchen,” states Amy Sims, project architect, LivingHomes.

“At 8'x12', it’s compact, it’s small. But it was designed to be the area where the cooking would take place, while the rest of the space would be for entertaining.”

Beginning at the left of the kitchen’s U-shape, there is a Kohler sink with Kohler faucet – chosen for its low-flow capabilities – located adjacent to an outdoor area. “There is a pass-through window just above the sink,” reports Sims, “allowing for food to be passed from inside the kitchen to the dining area on the outside patio.”

Extensive counter space is also featured around the sink, another bonus when entertaining. The counters themselves, on both the cabinets and on the island, are Paperstone from Kliptch, a paper product made with cellulose and newsprint.

“I spent a lot of time looking into the countertop material,” offers Sims. “Aesthetically, I was looking for something that was appropriate for the home, and functional as well. Paperstone can withstand a lot of heat, such as the heat coming off of the oven, and aesthetically I like it because it has a monolithic look to it. It cuts like wood, and when you cut through it, it’s like a solid surface material.”

The cabinets in the kitchen area were custom designed by Kappe, and made of Europly. The core is also FSC certified.

“We chose it because of the certification. It means the wood is grown and harvested in a sustainable way,” notes Glenn.

The wood also comes pre-finished, according to Sims, “which means we’re not doing a lot of work to the materials. It’s also low VOC.”

Everything was kept low architecturally along the walls, to allow for upper cabinets for storage. The lower cabinets house heavier items, while the uppers are available for glassware, dishes and other items.

There is also a full-height cabinet where some of the appliances – including a built-in microwave and built-in coffeemaker – are tucked away. “We wanted the kitchen to have clean counters,” notes Sims.

Adjacent to the main kitchen area, the island not only provides a spot for eating and additional counterspace, but added storage capacity, as well.

Inner Workings

In addition to being environmentally sound, it was important that the kitchen be highly functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Stainless steel appliances from Bosch were chosen for their environmental impact and Energy Star ratings, as well as function and style.

According to Danyel Tiefenbacher, brand manager, Bosch, “Steve Glenn called and asked if Bosch could help specify the proper appliances for this kitchen. He explained that his goal was to make the most efficient house in the U.S. based on the LEED platinum standard.”

Tiefenbacher notes that they reviewed the LEED certification standards and, based on the requirements in the standard, chose appropriate appliances.

Included in the kitchen, on the far right wall, is an Evolution refrigerator that uses sensors to constantly measure temperature to provide consistent cooling and control the frequency of the defrost cycle. A 700 Series Single Convection Oven is also featured in this area of the kitchen.

Along the back wall an NGT Series 30" Four-Burner Cooktop, manufactured of 98% recyclable materials, is topped by stainless steel vent hood.

To the left of the sink, a Bosch Evolution 800 Series Dishwasher features Sensotronic technology, which checks soil levels and adjusts water and temperature levels, saving water and energy. A Condensation Drying system in the dishwasher uses the final rinse’s latent heat stored in the stainless steel walls to dry the dishes.

The sink area also features a unit composter from Nature Mill.

Along the wall between the upper and lower cabinets runs a stainless steel backsplash.

In the main kitchen, the floor is cork with radiant heat below, while the outer perimeter is concrete slab.

LED lighting was the primary light source for the kitchen. “We’re only the second home in the country to have them,” Glenn points out. He adds that they were chosen for their energy efficiency and longevity. “They use one-tenth the power of incandescent lighting.”

“There is uplighting as well as task lighting in the main kitchen, and recessed cans,” notes Sims. A trio of pendant fixtures made from hand-blown recycled glass hangs over the island.

For more about green design, also read FusionDesign-Themed Showhouse Features ‘Green’ Focus, Breathing Easy, Firm Infuses New Life into Vintage Showhouse, Sleek and Green Define Kitchen and Bath Design, Green Countertops are Wide Ranging, High-Style Appliances Promote Safety and Energy Efficiency, It’s Easier Than Ever Being Green, Taking Steps Toward ‘Greener’ Kitchen Design, Sanitary Surfaces Create Healthier Kitchens and Residential Project Featuring 3,000 Sq. Ft. of Italian Tile Honored for Sustainability and Style.

For more green design resources, check out the Green Design section of the Helpful Links section.