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It waters itself. It powers itself. If only it could take out the trash. Entrepreneur Steve Glenn's ultra-energy-efficient house in Santa Monica, Calif., is the first home in the country to be given "platinum" status in the U.S. Green Building Council's influential LEED rating system (for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Glenn, the founder of Web software firm PeopleLink Inc., worked for more than two years on the project, hiring Los Angeles architect Ray Kappe to lend his earthy blend of California modernism to the design.
For Glenn, the two-story, four-bedroom structure (about 2,500 square feet) is more than just a place to live. It's the prototype for his new business, LivingHomes, which sells prefabricated houses based on his model for about $250 per square foot. That price doesn't include land, site preparation, or transportation of the components, which brought the total cost of Glenn's home to more than $1 million. The bulk of the house was built at a factory in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and assembled in one day. A high-speed video of the installation can be seen at the company's Web site: www.livinghomes.us.
Glenn says the eco-friendly features added about 20% to the base cost of the home. Even by saving an estimated $1,500 a year on utility bills, he won't make up the difference anytime soon. But for Glenn, the point is to live in a home that causes the least damage to the environment. Living healthy also counts, so the paint he selected gives off next to no volatile organic compounds, and the largely steel and concrete construction inhibits mold and termites. "We're targeting consumers who buy organic food, do yoga, and shop at Design Within Reach (DWRI)," he says.
By Christopher Palmeri