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Designing a Green Home

Construction How-To, Energy Efficiency, Insulation and Energy Conservation November 24, 2008 Chad



 

We’ve all heard the ways we can chip in to help the environment, such as turning off lights or taking shorter showers. But for the more dedicated green-enthusiasts, Alegre Ramos, green designer, has taken it one step further: why not design and live in a house that does a lot of the work for you?

Early on, Alegre, an Allied Member of ASID, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, recognized the importance of an all-around green lifestyle. While turning off the TV and unplugging appliances is a good start, there is always more that can be done. And so, when she opened Green and Greener – a new organic store in Los Angeles, she designed the entire building to be environmentally friendly.

Some details about her space that you can use:

  1. The walls are covered with American Clay which naturally ionizes the air and helps keep the space cooler.
  2. Alegre also insulated all the walls, including interior, with recycled cellulose insulation both for thermal and acoustic insulation.
  3. About 90% of the lighting in the space is repurposed and 99% is energy efficient and she installed an Energy Star rated HVAC system.  The result?  An average monthly electrical bill of $107 during the hot summers of Los Angeles.
  4. But the space is not just energy efficient, it’s also beautiful and creative.  “We wanted to show people how fun and unique designing green could be.”  To that end Alegre designed her Bubbly Chandelier using Perrier-Jouet Champagne bottles and had the store’s speaker boxes made out of repurposed wine crates.

Alegre offers both exterior and interior design for clients who are interested in building a new house or redesigning the one they own. Her philosophy in designing any space, whether interior or exterior, is to create an environment that reflects the lives and needs of its occupants but that is also healthy, beautiful, and functional.  While all of Alegre’s projects are different and reflect the tastes and needs of the client, there are a few rules that she tries to follow in all of her projects.  Such as:

  1. Always go as energy efficient as possible with any electrical.  It pays for itself very quickly!
  2. Insulate, insulate, insulate.  It makes the spaces sound better (and therefore FEEL cozier)    and it reduces energy needs.
  3. With furniture, always look at antique and vintage first.  It’s better quality, affordable, and gives your home a unique look!
  4. Be aware of your local microclimate, shady/bright spots, etc. when planning your garden.  It doesn’t matter how much water you give plants if they are planted in the wrong place!  Why fight nature?

Alegre has had plenty of experience in green design and building. She is currently involved in the design and construction of a commercial building working to achieve the highest LEED Platinum rating in the world. She has worked on a wide variety of projects in the past, including everything from outfitting a recording studio completely with “previously loved” furniture and energy efficient lighting to creating an “Enchanted Eco-Forest” showcasing green-building products for the 2008 Pre-Oscar Party. Alegre has had plenty of opportunities to display her work, all of which emphasizes the fact that “green” CAN be used in the same sentence as stylish, chic, and sophisticated.

Photo at top of page shows Green and Greener office after remodel. Environmental designs and strategies employed include:

  • Cork Wall Tiles
  • Greenguard Certified Ceiling Tiles
  • Repurposed Venetian Blinds as wainscoting
  • Polished Concrete Subfloor (red color is original)
  • All Sustainable Textiles
  • All Vintage Furniture
  • All No- or Low-VOC paints and stains, FSC-certified wood trim

 

(photo: Joshua Targownik – targophoto.com)


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