LOS ANGELES' green homes

 
Blake Roberts - Pier to Pier Brokers

AN INTERVIEW WITH
BLAKE ROBERTS

CEO and Broker, Pier to Pier Brokers

Q: Where are Green/eco-friendly homes Growing most?

 I think there are three major metropolitan hubs that foster eco-friendly/green homes and design trends. Coincidentally, these cities are also technology, entertainment and education hubs. Los Angeles is the big daddy hub primarily because of its eclectic mix of people, high incomes and pervasively eco-friendly undertones that Los Angeles has always been known for. Next is San Francisco and the Bay Area. Like LA, the entire community tends to attract and nurture two distinct personality types: super conservative and super liberal. The more liberal any given community, odds are pretty good it’s also more eco-friendly. Third on the list is the Pacific North West, in particular Seattle. Clearly, the combination of money, education and liberalism are the cornerstone of any significant eco-friendly, green home focused population. I’d also venture a guess that the number of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s per capita plays into identifying communities most likely to support eco-friendly trends and design. 

 

Q: What green/eco-friendly features are HOT?

  1. Smart homes: solar for water and power are huge, with the ability to sell excess back to the grid. 
  2. Drought tolerant landscape connected to a rain capture irrigation system.
  3. Paints and building materials that don’t off-gas into the home’s environment. This also includes insolation materials. Preferred are natural products like hemp amalgamations or wool based products. 
  4. LED lights connected to home automation technology like Apple's new HomeKit authorized products, Nest, and Phillips Hue
  5. These homeowner’s are looking for more than a super efficient home, they also want sustainability and better ways to benefit the occupant
  6. Special roofing materials that do a better job of keeping a home cool in warm environments. This also includes green roofs where soil and plants are used as a sun barrier
  7. Recycled building materials including using steal frames instead of traditional wood.
  8. When feasible, orienting the home to take best advantage of the sun’s path for maximizing solar and heating.
  9. Building with super efficient windows
  10. Reduced square footage 
  11. Large bathrooms
  12. Euro style design, where less is more.  

Q: How creative is too creative for Green/eco-friendly homes?

Like any sort of design project, money is usually the gating factor to implementing 100% of what’s on the want list.  If money is no object, the sky’s the limit. An architect who designs green will know every trick, cool feature and natural building material available. It’s really a matter of aligning your project to your specific budget. 

Q: Who's leading LA's Green Building Push?

Any home built by Living Homes in Santa Monica will be glowing green, which we really love. 

Q: why is green/eco-friendly design becoming so popular?

Like any trend, they grow, plateau and then fade. For green/eco friendly, there are many benefits that will keep a particular type of home buyer very happy. Further, many of the “green” solutions will make it to the masses and will most likely become the preferred option, for example LED lighting. This drip down effect will, driven by the mass-market's desire, lower utility fees. 

Q: Is green for everyone?

I'm sorry to say, going Green is not for everyone. The tone of many Green projects have picked up contemporary and mid-century design cues, which isn’t what the masses are generally looking for. In rough numbers, 10% of the home buying, home building population in the metropolitan areas that have green clusters will want (or consider) a green project. That leaves 90% of today's buyers either not really caring or wanting a green home’s eco-friendly features. For the green buyer, a green property will secure a premium over comparable sales in the neighborhood. For the right home, a 20% premium would not be a surprise. 

Q: WHy are Green/eco-friendly homes super contemporary?

Building a green/eco-friendly home is formula based. The cladding of the home, which can be super contemporary or Victorian, or even beach plantation style—it's really about the building materials, percentage of sustainable materials and use of sunlight that make a home green/eco-friendly. What's inside counts a lot more than the way the place looks. 

The formula doesn't care about the skin/style of the home. But, the majority of home buyers who quest after green/eco-friendly product also prefer contemporary lines. If you're a developer building Green/eco-friendly product, you need to make sure you know what style home most of your prospective buyers will prefer. 

Q: What do people love about Green?

Green homes are a true extension of one’s personality and life style. If a person lives with earth first beliefs and also believes that modern building techniques can be toxic to the inhabitants, then green is the obvious choice. Compare this to the more common choices most of today's buyer's are targeting: is there a view, yard, is it a coastal plantation style home? These choices are based on what a person likes to look at, but in no way do these features add to your health or actual quality of life. 

Q: What are the most BIZARRE green materials you've heard of?

The home's exterior was clad with special panels made of an amalgamation of horse hair and rubber from recycled car tires. The average home buyer gets turned off by an esoteric combination of building materials—especially materials they've never seen before in construction. 

Q: Do Green features add to a home's value?

Yes and no. For a buyer who is an eco friendly advocate, then they’ve hit pay dirt. For the average joe, then the eco stuff are items that probably need to be replaced with good old fashioned formaldehyde infused particle board and other carcinogenic, off-gasing building materials. An example comes to mind, which is on a much smaller scale, but I think drives the point home. Think of the soap and deodorant products from that well known company in Maine — we use them in our house every day. But, when we really want something clean or if we want to guarantee that we small wonderfully "natural,"  we tiptoe to our secret supply-closet of conglomerate produced cleaning and beauty products that can kill the stink on a skunk. Translation: sometimes the things that worse for you, do the job you're looking for. 

Q: What will be hot in Green come 2027?

I'd bet that over the next decade, green will become the new normal. With over 285 days of sunshine per year, and as solar and battery technology evolve, I think we'll see a major shift to homes that generate all of their power and heating needs from the sun. We'll also see every major car manufacture offering some sort of electric product. Plus, Tesla will be long gone because the company will have been bought by Apple or BMW. With electric cars in every garage, the common desire to charge your car while you sleep, for free will be super attractive. 

 
Blake Robertsarticle