by Allison Milionis
On a cloudy day in April 2006, a crowd of curious onlookers gathered on a hillside street in Santa Monica, California, to watch the installation of the first LivingHomes prefabricated house. Over the course of eight hours, 11 modules were hoisted by crane onto a concrete slab in a dramatic departure from traditional residential construction.
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Four months after construction, the model house received the first-ever LEED-Platinum rating for residential design. For developer Steve Glenn, founder and CEO of LivingHomes, it was an affirmation of his goal to develop houses of exceptional modern design, functionality, and sustainability. To ensure design quality, he had enlisted architect and Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC) co-founder, Ray Kappe, FAIA.
An astute entrepreneur and impassioned environmentalist, Glenn formed LivingHomes, LLC, in 2005. He is a lifelong fan of architecture but firmly believes that real estate developers ultimately have a greater impact on the built environment than architects. "What I realized [early on] is that the world needed more developers who care about the environment and community," he says.
The high rating from the U.S. Green Building Council achieves a new standard for sustainability in the national housing market. To help him meet both a high level of design and environmental excellence, Glenn recruited Kappe, whose trademark style is a perfect marriage of modern styling with craftsman-like warmth. Kappe had also experimented with modular systems, prefabrication, and alternative energy systems.
Efficiency with Style
Following the four core tenets of sustainable design: to reduce, reuse, recycle, and reclaim, LivingHomes's goal is to achieve "zero energy, zero water, zero carbon, and zero emissions" and to be priced lower than a conventional site-built house. Glenn says he also wants to achieve "zero ignorance," educating homeowners about how best to live in and operate these houses.
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A model prefabricated house by architect Ray Kappe, FAIA and developer LivingHomes.
Photo: Tom Bonner
Photo: CJ Berg
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