In my DVD video and book, “Building With Awareness,” I show the design and construction process of building a green home from scratch. With an emphasis on green building materials and the benefit of having complete control over the constructions process, you can see each stage of creating an energy efficient home from the ground up. By using a variety of natural materials such as straw bale, adobe, and earth plasters, it is possible to build an extremely green home with off-the-shelf components. For those who have the opportunity to start with a clean slate and an empty piece of land, this is an efficient way to go.
But what if you need to buy or rent a home that is already built? What if you desire to live in a city and the ability to use less-conventional materials is limited? After all, retrofitting existing buildings and homes will be an even larger industry than building new green structures. Millions of homes already exist and the majority of them need to be brought up to better energy efficiency standards. How do you improve energy efficiency, lower your power bills, and limit your carbon footprint?
This new column on the “Building With Awareness” blog is called “Urban Green Living.” It will cover many aspects of going green when living and working in an urban environment. We will look at everything from retrofitting a 1920’s home with photovoltaic panels to a green makeover of a downtown loft in the heart of Los Angeles. We will show how to resolve problems that you inherit from an existing structure to how to choose environmentally sound materials, paints, lighting fixtures, and even furniture. We will figure out how to improve the efficiency of a condominium or apartment when the ability to add or move windows, doors, and heating and cooling systems is not possible. It is all about being creative. And just like the theme of the “Building With Awareness” video and book, it is about educating yourself in regards to the options that are available and then deciding what direction is best for you.
The downtown Los Angeles loft project will be an ongoing series in the coming months. The loft is situated in what is called the Historic Core of California’s largest city. Before World War II, this was the financial and entertainment core of Los Angeles. Many of the buildings date back to 1911 and before. This was before the days of air conditioning and society’s total reliance on fossil fuels. The architecture was grand and built to last. Major movies premiered in the ornate movie theaters, trolly cars provided public transportation, and the area thrived. After World War II, the financial institutions began to move several blocks to the west, the movie palaces lost their luster, and the area started a gradual decline into hard times. Life flows in cycles and now the community is coming back to life. In the articles to come, you will learn about this process of renewal and why this presents a great opportunity for urban green living.
Article and Photo by Ted Owens