Pro Spotlight: How to Make Your Home More Sustainable
As home prices in California continue to skyrocket, many people are finding it difficult to afford a new home, opting instead to renovate or add on. Meir Barzilai, responsible managing officer at green-home remodeling firm Treeium in Valley Village, sees this as an opportunity to spread the word on sustainable building practices. “We adapt to everything that’s going on around us, and that means sharing information on sustainable products,” he says.
Start with an energy audit. Barzilai recommends starting the process with an audit of how efficient (or inefficient) your building envelope really is. “Climates have changed, materials have improved and everyone is trying to conserve energy,” he says. “You have to make your house more tight, so an energy audit identifies any gaps; then we can be more precise. We need to think about our health, the world around us, our future and whether the products we use will help or harm us.”
Educate yourself. As a certified green-home builder, Barzilai believes it’s important for homeowners to be educated on opportunities for energy savings — which ultimately translates to cost savings. “Having a sustainable home doesn’t mean sacrificing your unique style by limiting your options,” he says. “It’s about improving your lifestyle by delivering beautiful, sustainable alternatives and, in the end, achieving a happy, healthy home.”
Below, Barzilai offers some ways to take a sustainable approach to three important rooms in your home.
1. Living Room
One of the primary benefits of a green living room is that it creates a healthier environment for you, your family and your guests. The design phase is the time to plan for affordable, sustainable options for your living room, Barzilai says. When working with him to map out their living room finishes and materials, clients in West Hollywood opted for concrete flooring, seen here, that had been manufactured from recycled materials. They also used organic paint on the interior walls and ceilings.
“By using recycled materials, you’re helping to reduce your carbon footprint and alleviate the mass amounts of waste going into our landfills,” Barzilai says. It also reduces the amount of harmful chemicals being released into the atmosphere.
According to Barzilai, the kitchen is among the most important rooms in the house when it comes to sustainability because of the energy-consumption and toxicity potential of appliances and finishes. For example, terrazzo, wood and indigenous stone are some sustainable countertop options.
Treeium installed LED lighting, natural stone surfaces and sustainable, nontoxic flooring in this transitional Los Angeles kitchen. In addition, “proper ventilation and ducting using nontoxic materials eliminates the buildup of noxious gases in the area,” Barzilai says.
Large or small, bathrooms provide another opportunity to choose sustainable options. The same L.A. clients were looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint while maintaining a clean, chic look in their master bathroom, seen here. The team installed large windows to provide natural light; reflective surfaces further brighten the space. “Minimizing the need for constant artificial light allowed for less energy consumption and the ability to place some air-cleansing house plants in the space,” Barzilai says.