Los Angeles' Model Green Home: How Green Is Yours?

Typically in California, we retrofit houses for earthquake protection. Now a new business Residential Energy Assessment Services is retrofitting houses to make them more energy efficient and "green." Clever business model, especially in this market.

To demonstrate what they can do for your house, the firm worked with eco-design and green building material companies to create the prototype Zenergy House in Studio City, Calif. that showcases numerous green, energy efficient materials and practices.

At a recent launch party, Hollywood's go-to green guru Ed Begley Jr. checked it out as did numerous green bloggers. Simply put, the Zenergy house is a showcase for green building practices that should be considered before remodeling any older home or building a new one. Reports by the Green Resource Council indicate that often a "greened" house sells faster because buyers are increasingly seeking out environmentally friendly homes and in some cases, per a survey by Green Builder Media, they're willing to pay a premium for such updates.

But will this green remodel work for any house?
Per Tammy Schwolsky, director of energy efficiency for Residential Energy Assessment Services, this 2,400-square-foot house built in 1950 is now "a living lab." While the Zenergy House does have solar panels, other first steps to energy efficiency include improving insulation by using recycled denim and double-paned windows. Sealing up a house by blocking air leaks is a major step towards smarter energy use. Her firm conducts energy audits and then makes recommendations to homeowners.

From the front entrance, with its spongy pavers made from recycled tires, to its black-bottomed pool, the Zenergy house has many innovations. All appliances are Energy Star-rated; the Blindsgalore window blinds are honeycombed and energy efficient, keeping rooms cooler; and a nontoxic, wine-cork flooring that's mildew-resistant tops the bathroom floor.

The Zenergy house is open now to real estate agents and architects for tours, but public tours will begin soon. Per the recently initiated GreenMLS, recent studies show that certified green homes have a clear market advantage over conventional homes. Even though appraisers may have yet to get the memo on this, and mortgages and incentives for energy efficiency remain available only in a few cities, there's a growing trend toward remodeling with energy in mind.

The Green Resource Council, established by the National Association of Realtors, has information on the benefits of going green as well as a useful definition of terms. While not every house can be as efficient (net zero energy use) as the Zenergy House, it creatively demonstrates that the technology exists right now to make it so.

See homes for sale in Los Angeles at AOL Real Estate.
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