Yesterday's house tour post of the Santa Monica apartment renovation brought up a lot of questions amongst readers of what exactly made the renovation "green"...and even a debate/discussion about the definition of green renovation itself, including whether city living is an environmental choice or not. Lori Dennis, ASID, LEED AP of Dennis Design Group was kind enough to send us a detailed response to some of the questions and criticisms...
Why is this apartment green?
First thing to understand is that living in a large multi family structure is always more ecofriendly than one family per structure. Occupants share floor, ceiling and wall space as well as HVAC systems and the energy used to build and maintain the structure. Having hundreds of people use one pool, tennis court, driveway, pavement, common areas and underground parking not only saves energy and resources but occupies much less surface area. Have you heard of storm water runoff? Heat Island effect? Non permeable surfaces? A great solution to these problems is multi family structures. The apartment is also walking distance to pretty much everything the tenant does during the day; work, yoga, farmers market, library, etc. The building is walking distance to buslines and has bicycle storage and showers for the tenants. Because of it's location by the beach in Santa Monica, the climate is rarely so cold or so hot that heating or cooling are neccesary. The tenant does his best to bundle up in the winter if catches a chill. I've been around in summer, the windows are always open. He also happens to be a vegan who is very respectful of the planet. He does own a car and does have to drive it on rare occasion, but he has offset his carbon footprint by purchasing a large amount of rain forest property in Costa Rica that he says he will never develop.
Second thing to think about in our green apartment are the methods and materials we used in redecorating. We reused the sofa and patio chairs (adding slipcovers and pillows in organic cotton fabric), dining table and both mirrors (added fabric to the frame of the living room mirror). The remaining furniture in the apartment: bed, dining chairs, bookcases, desk and coffee table were given to his very good and extremely happy friend. We selected FSC (sustainably harvested) wood veneers for the new furniture and used Safecoat AFM eco friendly stain on the coffee table. The apartment was painted in Benjamin Moore EcoSpec low VOC paint. We purchased the chandelier used (keeping it out of a landfill) and updated with organic cotten fabric on the shades. Every light fixture contains flourescent bulbs. The linens he purchased were from Anna Sova, all organic material and manufacturing, plus some of the proceeds go to sustainable farmers throughout the world. We gave the old linens to charity. The new mattress is from H3 Environmental ( Read up on owner Mary Cordaro's green initiatives, she's a 30 year vet in the industry.) Only certified organic cleaners are used in this apartment. All appliances are Energy Star rated (required by the building) and shower heads, faucets and toilets are low flow (encouraged by the city of Santa Monica).