Comfort Zone: Smart Designs for Pleasure and Planet Beyond the Box By Reed McManus
Steve Glenn puts his feet up and enjoys his light-filled living room and minimal ecological footprint.
STEVE GLENN'S "LIVING HOME" IN SANTA MONICA, California, sports an almost comically thorough list of environmental attributes. For starters, it's got siding fashioned from sustainable cedar, photovoltaic panels next to a rooftop "living garden," countertops made of cellulose, a whole-house fan instead of air-conditioning, and a built-in kitchen composter. And it was manufactured in 11 steel-framed modules in a factory, which slashes construction waste.
Clockwise from top: Forest Stewardship Council–certified cedar siding, low-VOC paint and LED lighting in the study, and sliding panels in the master bedroom (that's organic cotton bedding, of course).
But what's most impressive about the house, designed by renowned Southern California architect Ray Kappe and the winner of a 2007 Top Ten Green Project award from the American Institute of Architects, is that it would be a great place to be a cat. The 2,500-square-foot home, built on a sloping lot less than a mile from the ocean, is airy, filled with light, rife with sun-gathering perches, and unbroken by interior walls that would inhibit a full-speed charge against phantom prey. And an interior garden brings the jungle indoors. What lazy feline, or human for that matter, could resist that?
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"It's all about the space. Most architects focus on finishing details and materials," says Steve Glenn, "but Ray Kappe pays as much attention to what's between the walls."
For the most part, building green is no more difficult than traditional construction. But the rules that govern gray-water systems, which recycle wastewater from laundry and baths for use as irrigation, can be onerous. "We still don't have our permit," says Glenn.