Girls Go Green in Venice Beach, CA Come Along on Their Eco -Adventure !
Monica lives and works in bohemian Venice Beach which is known to be an artsy community at the beach and although it is in Los Angeles - it doesn't feel like it. Here we wear flip flops and go out casual. I surf and roller blade and because our toes are in the sand quite often, we tend to be aware of our environment. Monica is a member of Surfrider, Heal the Bay, Sierra Club, NRDC, USGBC and has greened such events as ABBOT KINNEY FEST and the USGBC Sustainable event downtown. The last thing for her to do was Green her 2 original 1940's bungalows where she runs her Eco-Friendly Production Company and Consulting firm - SYNERGY TV PRODUCTIONS (www.SynergyProductions.TV)
I guess you can say I like to live the communal life and have a small footprint! Being a greenie for 15 + years, I have always tried to do what I can to lessen my footprint and my tenants Mary and Leah are stoked to learn more. We make it a point to bike ride around our neighborhood, to the store, to visit friends and even to our local bars. We like to think of ourselves as conscious b/c we recycle, have an organic garden and carry our own sassy canvas re-usable canvas bags when we shop at the local FM (Farmer's Market). But one day I wanted to do more and decided it was great to have a Green Lifestyle but I wanted us to be in Green homes too! I Greened both of our small bungalow homes . CHECK OUT THE BEFORE - CONSTRUCTION AND AFTER PICS (SLIDESHOW)
Over the next 3 months, I found myself going into Green Guru Mode, figuring how to recycle as much as possible and having to source green materials for our bungalows. We kept all of the materials we could (re-used our kitchen cabinets, refinished the original hardwood floors rather than buying new, refinished furniture and fireplace mantels instead of throwing them into the landfill. Going green doesn't mean brining in a bunch of new "Green Bling" but keeping what you can and making it better! I spent 3 months researching products to be sure they are safe and eco-friendly. We also did a lot of the work ourselves so we know the products 1st and because we used them and know they are safe. I painted with No VOC clay paints, stripped the fireplace with eco stripper, stained furniture with all natural wood stains and sealers. I worked with our contractor Travis to educate him and his team be sure he was using all Green sealers, adhesives and thinking in a new way -- construction can be green. Leah and Mary pitched in too and painted their living room with fabulous Pink clay paint and stripped their closets. We rolled up our sleeves and got dirty!
I feel it is only fair to share the info I gleaned from 600 hours of research with you. The more homework I did, the more I found Green washing. It seems as if everyone is on the bandwagon and preaching to be "good for the environment" but you gotta ask the hard questions (isn't there a No VOC paint rather than just low VOC? is the manufacturing of these products green? what chemicals are in each product? is the packaging wasteful? can I find it locally? how can 3 people save on precious resources like water and energy in already small houses? There are many solutions for all types of budgets. Here is what I found ....
Our GREEN MAKEOVER was pretty extensive but each part is important and you can do it in steps and within your own budget. OVERALL, we managed to offset 90% our energy for 2 bungalows with Solar PV (DWP offered rebates so check with your provider). We saved thousands of gallons of water with high performance - 1.6 gal ultra low flow toilets, shower heads, faucets and new drip irrigation (anyone can do this!) . We saved 30% energy with our tank less water heaters and installing a new Cool roof. PLASTIC is one of my pet peeves. I surf and am constantly pulling out plastic bags from the ocean. (See my site www.adoptafarmersmarket.com) so we purified our water with a whole house system saving thousands of plastic bottles and removed chemicals like chlorine from our drinking water and showering! I did my best to only use 100% green products from installing recycled glass counters and tiles to green strippers to paints. As far as old appliances that were removed - we recycled them and donated to Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org/).
When it came to final touches, lighting, furnishings and products – we found the best of the best in Green. Each step of our makeover is detailed below!
Well known Sustainable Architect, Bernardo Charca worked on our Green Remodel project as our Green Architectural Expert. He worked closely with Dinyari Cool Roof and Solar City 28KW Solar Panel system installation. We were focused on offsetting all of our energy for both houses but needed to be safe when working with original 1940’s construction. Bernardo is well known for lifting original and building a modern 1st floor living space such as his Convertible Deuce and Loop House: www.AiArch.com
Owner, Buck Dinyari was our expert for our new “Cool Roof” installation. Dinyari Cool Roofs can be installed over existing roofs eliminating costly tear-offs and materials ending up in landfills. They are waterproof elastic membranes, highly resistant to wear and decay, increase life of roof saving money and resources. They are Non-Toxic, no harmful fumes, or poisons to endanger workers or the environment and are 30% recycled materials. They’re highly reflective (UV rays bounce-off reducing urban heat build-up) and are energy efficient reducing costs by as much as 40%. (Title 24 compliant, LEED rated, energy star approved). www.Dinyari.com
SolarCity understands that the environmental impact of energy production is one of the greatest challenges that our planet will face in the near future, and we are committed to doing our part to alleviate this impact with solar power systems. Our mission is to make solar power the workhorse of the world’s energy production, and we intend to accomplish that one installation at a time. We installed a 28kw system to cover both Venice bungalows power needs! www.SolarCity.com
Noritz tankless water heaters saves tons of energy and money. Their on-demand systems require no pilot light staying lit therefore operating costs could be up to 50% lower! We installed 2 Model 0631 along with the Metlund® Hot Water D'MAND® S-70 PumpSystem (a high performance pump, integrated controller and electronic zone valve) and it required no special plumbing. Easy installation, saves you space from the huge tank and is much more efficient! www.noritz.com / www.gothotwater.com / Meier Plumbing: 714-505-1955
Don Powell installed a canvas Door Awning on the back of our bungalow home helping us to protect our hardwood floors and furniture from sun bleaching as well as keeping our room shaded and 10 degrees cooler. Having awnings installed in your home is an easy Green project anyone can do - inexpensive and easy! www.vannuysawning.com
KITCHEN AND BATHROOMS:
Environment-friendly KOHLER® and STERLING® plumbing products are designed to conserve our natural resources while remaining true to a singular level of quality for performance and design that help earn LEED water-efficiency points. KOHLER earned the EPA’s WaterSense label because many of their toilets use at least 20 % less water than standard 1.6-gallon toilets. Considering the average family of four uses about 400 gallons of water each day, and toilets represent a whopping 26 % of all home indoor water use, installing a Kohler Watersense toilet can help you save money and a precious resource -- water. www.Kohler.com
Tiger Mountain Innovations produces environmentally friendly composite surfaces Squak Mountain Stone™ and Trinity Glass Products™ used for countertops, tabletops, floor and wall tiles, and vessel sinks. They are handcrafted using locally-sourced, recycled materials. Trinity Glass Products are made from recycled glass mixed with cement, offering a more polished look with small particulates, similar to granite. Brand new product that is fantastic! www.TrinityGlassProducts.com
We used only recycled glass kitchen backsplash tiles that are crafted from 100 percent post-consumer recycled glass. Reusing glass uses less energy and produces fewer emissions than making new glass from raw materials. Their factory is solar powered, further minimizing their environmental impact. www.GlassRootsofMontana.com
As an active Energy Star partner since 1998, Whirlpool has received some of the program's top honors nearly every year by protecting the environment through outstanding energy efficiency. They can save on water and energy while helping reduce your family's impact on the environment. We recycled a 10 year old fridge that was an energy hog and installed an ENERGY STAR qualified one that saves us $200 in electricity each year! Front loading washers use less water and are more efficient saving electricity too. We use only biodegradeable soaps in our kitchen, laundry and baths. www.Whirlpool.com
PURE-O FLOW whole house water filtration system was installed and provides Reverse osmosis water filtration to the both bungalows. Now we don’t buy bottled water and save tons of plastic bottles from landfills! We hate plastic and now it's out of our lives for good. I bought us stainless steel bottles that we can fill at home and take with us - no plastic bottles anymore! Pure-o Flow doesn’t use phosphates, potassium or any chemicals and it removes 100% of the chlorine from the water, and 98%of all other contaminants. Your hair and skin are amazing after a shower with no chemicals. The purification is easy on your appliances too. I found my dishes came out cleaner! http://Pureoflow.com/ Picasso Plumbing 818-468-7678
Marmoleum is a natural product made from linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, jute and limestone. It is available in a comprehensive range of design elements. Made with natural ingredients, Marmoleum is an environmentally friendly, healthy, hygenic flooring solution. We installed it in the typical 1940's check pattern and it looks original but new and hip! No chemical smells and even the Forbo adhesive was green! www.TheMarmoleumStore.com
We installed 2 InSinkerator garbage disposals to our bungalows because they are eco-friendly too! They divert food waste from landfills and I use this for items I can’t put in my Compost Pile and Organic Garden. http://www.insinkerator.com/
Mary Cordaro is the Founder and President of the H3 Environmental and was my Healthy bedroom expert. She has been an Environmental Consultant for 17 years and is a Certified Bau-Biologist who helps people improve the health of their homes. In the TV episode you will see all of her tips. We started by replacing my old chemical laden mattress that was unhealthy mattress with her Organic mattress and added an air cleaner to my room. I painted the walls with Bioshield natural clay paint (No VOC and NO Acrylics that are in other low VOC paints). My room smeels fresh, my bed is comfortable and I sleep so much better in my non-toxic, healthy bedroom! www.H3Environmental.com
COYUCHI bed linens are a healthier alternative for bedding! They are made from handpicked certified organically grown cotton. They are 100% organic with no synthetics and or toxic chemicals. I changed all of my bedding as well and I feel the difference! www.Coyuchi.com/
Nourison is the world’s largest manufacturer of hand-made rugs and has just introduced Taos, a new collection of area rugs that are manufactured with all natural, reusable organic materials, using wool from villages, spun by local artisans and colored with vegetable dyes. We were so happy to find an ecologically minded handcrafted area rugs. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has certified 20 collections from Nourison (Certification by Green Label Plus). www.Nourison.com
We used BioShield Natural Clay Paint with zero VOC and no acrylics for our wall paint and their Resin Floor finish. Their of paints, stains, thinners and waxes are made from naturally-derived raw materials like citrus peel extracts, essential oils, seed oils, tree resins, inert mineral fillers, tree and bee waxes, lead-free dryers and natural pigments. They have an interesting advice column and tons of information on their site www.BioShieldPaint.com
Knowing that traditional wood fireplaces lose 60% of the heat is lost up the chimney and wood is bad for our air quality, we wanted a Green alternative to a fireplace in our bungalows. With Planika 100% of heat energy from biofuel remains in the room. The Fanola Fuel is made from potatoes and has no smoke or smell is gives out only steam with the same CO2 in as air exhaled by humans. This is a brand new product no one knows about yet! www.PlanikaFires.com/
Finding Eco-Friendly Furniture can be quite difficult but I wanted our homes to be green from top to bottom! Dao Home Furnishings specializes in organic contemporary furniture that is green. Of course keeping what I have is greener than buying new. I am already quite a re-user and my house is full of my grandmother's antiques. Owner Sue helped me recycle and re-use my current 10 year old sofa by having their furniture upolsterer just recover my sleeper sofa. She sources organic Hemp fabrics and natural stuffing and used the same wooden frame and inner bedding! I also fell in love with her reclaimed side table and Bark lamp for our living room and a large Teak sculpture for the garden. http://DAOhome.com/
Eco-Solutions is dedicated to developing and promoting a safe water-based alternative to hazardous solvents and we used their Home Strip patented water-based products to strip our antique furniture, fireplace and floors. It has no chemical smell and works great! www.EcoSolveAmericas.com
My plan was to remove my water loving lawn because after all, we live in a desert! I never used any pesticides or chemicals on my lawn but knew I could still do better by removing it and going with native plantings and grasses to save tons of water! I hired Brad and his Landscape Architecture firm to help me create a sophisticated, and unique water saving garden that was not just cactus and rocks! I wanted to show that sustainability gardens can be beautiful!. Together we developed awater saving, organic garden, featuring citrus that we can use and eat, natives that will fead the birds and squirrels. All of the plantings and advice came from the amazing guys at Native Sons Nursery. http://www.LAdainc.com/
Native Sons is a wholesale nursery firmly rooted in the heart of California’s Mediterranean climatic core. They provide perennials, grasses and shrubs that flourish in warm dry climates and worked closely with me to pick plants that require less water like Carex lawn and native trees and plants. They are wonderful to work with, focus on sustainablilty, and are and experts with native California flora and Mediterranean floras of the world. http://NativeSon.com/home.htm
To save on water, we installed a Rain Bird low-water irrigation system-- a drip irrigation system which is the most efficient way to water our new ground cover and organic vegetable gardens because it gives the exact amount of water needed and is delivered at or near plant root zones not sprayed into the air and lost to evaporation. Benefits include design flexibility, healthier plants and the elimination of water run-off. We will save 1,000’s of gallons of water each year! www.Rainbird.com
Terry & Sandra Jarvis started using push reel mowers in 1991 because they were tired of the noise and fumes of mowers and blowers so they became part of the solution instead of the problem! We love our mower and use it to cut our new Carex grass - low water lawn! Can't we all use some exercise - get out there and mow your eco-lawns with no emissions or electricity! www.Sunlawn.com/
When it came to the supplies in our garden - they had to be green too! I found a local company Epic Plastics that makes bender board (the stuff you line your garden with to keep the plants in and the dogs out) form 100% recycled bpottles from milk containers, shampoo bottles, detergent bottles! How cool is that! They recycle over 150 million bottles annually and over the last 10 years in business, they have saves tons of redwood edging from being chopped down. Can't get better than that! www.epicplastics.com/
Solar lighting is the safest and easiest kind of outdoor lighting to install and saves on electricity! Each Malibu light we installed contains solar collector panel that converts sunlight into electrical energy and stores it in highly efficient rechargeable batteries used to light the fixture at night. Solar lights utilize the latest LED technology and provide sufficient light your yard at night. We not only went solar with our homes but our landscape too! www.MalibuLights.com
As a member of LampRecycle.org and USGBC – Natural Lighting is one stop shopping for all of their compact fluorescent and LED light bulb shopping. We changed all of our light bulbs in both homes and will use about 75 % less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and they last up to 10 times longer. Change YOUR bulbs today! www.NaturalLighting.com
They create wholesome organic, vegan, multi-use products unrivaled in perfection, purity and effectiveness for men, women, and children. We support and use their pure organic beauty products. www.PerfectOrganics.com
We only use Tom’s of Maine and are impressed with their belief that a company can be financially successful, socially responsible and environmentally sensitive! They use renewable wind energy at their factory, they recycle, and they use Green materials! Because it's not jsut the product itself but HOW it was made! www.TomsofMaine.com
With approximately 230 million tons of garbage generated each year, Natur-Tec™ environmentally friendly plastics, gives consumers the power to choose a completely biobased & biodegradable plastic solution. We exclusively use their bags in our homes & gardens. Let's stop our addiction with plastic and petroleum - use renewable bags! www.Natur-Tec.com
We love NH because they are local and realize we have limited resources on planet earth. They sell supremely soft and comfortable apparel and accessories that are made from bamboo, hemp, organic cotton and vegetable leather. www.NaturalHighLifestyle.com
We are eco-friendly as well as pet friendly and I have two dogs in my bungalow home. In addition to feeding them left over veggies - I wanted them to go green too in our home makeover! I found these meticulously beautiful hand-crafted, all-natural, organic dog beds for my poochies. They are stuffed with kapok (natural - no chemicals) which is a super-soft, down-like feel for your pampered pooch! www.BellaDogga.com
Pixxlz.com utilizes state-of-art environmentally safe products and has a no-waste printing process. When supplying my Green Office, they feature chemical-free toner, soy & water based inks and recycled papers. They are a premier Green Printing company and I use only their products, recycled paper, green business cards and stationary. www.pixxlz.com