Whether you are building a new custom home or renovating an older home, thinking and living green can be incorporated to help the environment and your bottom line. Below, you’ll see how one family in California has created one of the greenest homes in America, scoring 104 out of a possible 108 points, earning them a LEED Platinum certification.
Meet Maraget Hyde. Hyde and her family (husband and four children) recently downsized their home to a 1910 craftsman home in Santa Monica, CA. “Five years ago we had a huge house with an ocean view, but decided we wanted to live a simpler life. We bought an old home and tried to make it as sustainable as possible while maintaining the integrity of the home. My kids love it. We have more family time together. It takes less time to maintain. Downsizing is very liberating. When you have less space, you think about sustainability more.”
“We did all of the research to find the best products and worked with green consultants. The bottom line is, you have to know what is going to work for you and what is sustainable based on the way you live.”
Hyde’s home features some unique innovations including the first legal residential grey water system in Santa Monica, which reuses laundry and grey water in the garden. The only freshwater that is used in the home is to bathe and cook.
Stormwater harvesting via a 5,000 gallon collection tank under the yard also waters the garden, where drought tolerant plants and organic vegetables are grown. They also incorporate compost from their kitchen and compost bin in their garden.
For energy, they utilize multiple sources of renewable energy including solar thermal heating for the pool; geothermal heating and air for the home; and a wind-turbine to power the treehouse and landscape lights. They also use solar photovoltaics
and have a zero-emission generator.
“We actually use two types of solar. But, you really should only use solar if it will be effective, because it can be a big investment. You wouldn’t want to employ solar techniques if you lived in a cloudy location of the country or if you had a lot of shade at your home from trees.”
A Creston system monitors energy usage and overall efficiency of the house. Their metal roof is made of 50 percent recycled metal, and they used recycled fly ash concrete pavers.
On the home interior, zero VOC roman clay, paint and stain is utilized throughout. Reclaimed materials are featured throughout the house, including: reclaimed oak floors from a 150-year-old barn; reclaimed furnishings; and antique lamps rewired for LED lightbulbs. They even reclaimed a warehouse wood door for the top of their dining room table. In the kitchen, there is a sliding glass door wall that opens onto the porch for ventilation as well as an indoor/outdoor feel.
“I’m very thankful for the life I have and living more mindfully (sustainably) has helped me realize that even more. As you make changes in one area of your life, they happen in others.”
Growing up in Memphis, TN, Hyde was instilled with philanthropic values from a young age. Boasting a passion for giving back to the community through sustainability and mentorship programs, Hyde sits on the board of New Visions Foundation, which works to find innovative ways to deliver high quality education programs to underprivileged children. An author, photographer and filmmaker, Hyde has written a series of fine art books for children and, most recently, the Mo’s Nose series for children using all recycled papers and soy inks, continuing her commitment to sustainability.
Margaret’s 10 Tips for Low-Cost Alternatives for Green Living
1. Use recylced glass tiles.
2. Incorporate river stone floors in showers—“Renewable floors that are slip resistant and feel like a foot massage.”
3. If you can’t replace inefficient windows, apply a film on the windows that increase the R-factor.
4. Recaulk and check your weatherstripping.
5. Replace existing lightbulbs with LED bulbs. They come in many colors, last much longer than incandescents and save energy.
6. A light-colored reflective roof increases efficiency—it’s actually one of the most impactful things you can do to reduce the effects of global warming.
7. Use sky-lights where you can.
8. Replace older appliances with energy-efficient ones.
9. Compost using worms. “Our whole garden grows better!”
10. Collect rainwater for watering plants.