Green building is becoming the way to develop new projects and remodel old ones. The annual City of Santa Monica Alternative Building Expo showcased all aspects of building green on May 7 and 8 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Attendees had the opportunity to see green building materials, learn about water and energy conservation products and techniques, and hear about new green building government regulations through exhibits, demonstrations, and panel discussions.
At a panel titled “Developers Go Green” building professionals and others discussed the approaches and lessons learned from building projects that are sustainable, cost effective, and marketable. Dennis Allen, the President of Allen Associates, emphasized that, “net zero buildings are possible.” Net-zero energy buildings generate as much energy as they consume through efficiency technologies and on-site power generation. He recommended that net zero builders should “choose simple systems, use energy modeling for cost effective choice, allow extra time for product research,” and allow extra time for municipal approval time.
Southern California Edison’s Jonathan Budner stated that California has mandated that all new residential construction has to be net zero by 2020 and all new commercial construction has to be net zero by 2030.
Another panel member, Mike DiGiovanni, the Director of Purchasing for Comstock Homes, noted that aiming for sustainable design requires thinking about sustainable practices early on in the development process. He also noted that sustainable features could be incorporated without putting green homes out of reach for the average homebuyer.
The Mirror spoke with Shannon Barnes who is the warehouse manager for The ReUse People of America Incorporated. She described how her company “deconstructs houses and then salvages as much of the reusable materials as possible.” They then resell the materials through their warehouse at a fraction of the retail prices new materials would cost. Other benefits include tax credits for property owners for the materials they donate from the deconstruction and lower disposal costs because fewer materials are sent to the landfill. She added that their products are “particularly useful for vintage houses.”
Build It Green, a non-profit organization, was also a part of the AltBuild. Their literature states that their mission is “to promote healthy, energy, and resource efficient building practices in California through outreach and education” to building industry professionals, homeowner, and other stakeholders. They define green building as a whole-systems approach that incorporates livable communities, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, resource conservation, and water conservation. Their Southern California Division Director, David Blanke, told the Mirror that they “specialize in residential green buildings and work with local governments on green building ordinances” and ways to inspect for green building features. He also stated that their Greenpoint rating system is the same as LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) rating system because the U.S. Green Building Council developed both of them.
Los Angeles County’s Smart Gardening program had representatives on hand to discuss their mission, which is to reduce yard waste in landfills by education of county residents on how to recycle yard waste. Their free classes include how to recycle waste into compost, how to recycle grass clippings, using water-wise gardening techniques, and fire-wise gardening. In an interview with the Mirror the program’s Project Manager, John Ruzzamenti, noted that the program has been in existence for 12 years and that it offers classes throughout the county.
Mirror Contributing Writerhannah@smmirror.com