Zenergy Home – LA’s 1st comprehensive remodel to Net Zero Energy

Zenergy Home – LA’s 1st comprehensive remodel to Net Zero Energy

The grand opening featured noted environmental activists, tours, and refreshments. Actor & Environmentalist Ed Bagley Jr. introduces the project.

Zenergy’s homeowners receives special recognition from Senator Fran Pavely for being pioneers of the Green movement. Residential Energy Assessment Services, Inc. (REAS) CEO Tammy Schwolsky.  Senator Pavely, author of bill AB 32 – the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.  She points out that our dependency on foreign oil is a matter of national security. We need to be much more efficient and much less dependent.

ZENERGY House will host a number of seminars and tours for architects, builders, designers, government officials, realtors, financial institutions, homeowners and other interested parties through 2010.

The homeowners and designers did a magnificent job with renovation. Honestly, I loved everything about the home but I’m not sure I’m too happy with a pool. We have a water crisis looming over our heads. In my opinion pools are a complete waste of water. I wished they somehow addressed that.

California native landscape and gardens are beautiful and requires a lot less water.  They had a sloped front yard which was great for drip irrigation of their natives.

Meet Rachel & Rebecca of Neon Design Collective,  the interior designers on this project. They said they didn’t go for LEED but followed its guidelines. They feel that as long as you follow the principles, going through the extra effort to get the rating isn’t necessary and could consume more resources in the project and delay the process. They recommend LEED more for commercial projects.

Natural lighting is the optimized with dual pane glass for energy efficiency. CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs, LED are used throughout the house. They cut out 50% of their HVAC equipment.

EcoView by Advanced Telemetry is a good way of monitoring your usage and savings. Makes you feel good to know how many trees you have saved, how many cars you took off the road, how much emissions & cash you are saving.

The item most emphasized in the kitchen were the Energy Star appliances and the no VOC Bradco cabinetry that are formaldehyde free and uses FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) woods & adhesives. The Madison & Grow eco-friendly wallpaper is used instead of a backslash. This won for the Interior Design Magazine Merit award in 2008 for best residential wallcovering.

The tour was lead by friends of the family. Many of these concepts are so easy kids and teens can explain it to you. Here, she points out Naturemill composters makes everything easier.

Chandelier made of re-used materials. Reused is better than recycled, less energy is consumed than in development of the recycled product.

Recycled cardboard armoire by Ecor Global. We cannot just recycle, but we also have to purchase things made of recycled material to continue the demand. Its all part of the system.

The master bedroom has a fireplace that is shared between the room & the bathroom. I really loved the open bathroom space plan with Showercork by Sustainable Flooring covering the entire space.

Recycled glass tiles were used for the bathrooms. Their favorite item to point out are the extra soft bamboo towels from Nandina.

In the Sitting Room, BlindsGalore provided the bamboo roller shades. NearSea Naturals provided the sustainable sheets.

Ditto paper ecological hangers (made of 100% recycled paper.) & No Wire Hangers (recycled plastics) were very popular.  They are also more space efficient so one could fit more hangers in there.

Craigslist & Ebay were good sources for local reusable furniture. Saves energy from production and transportation. Etsy was a good source for lower cost art said the designers.

Eco-friendly products have come along way and much more stylish now than a few years ago.

Last but not least, Ron loves his garage (no plans to park his car there). He explain why he didn’t go with the tankless hot water system. He also mentions now the system is so great his teenage daughters take hour long showers. Hmm…without mention of any greywater system, that seems a bit excessive. We cannot be perfect, but Ron & Tammy’s home comes very very close. Great job and thank you for leading LA into a more sustainable future.

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Christine Duong

Christine Duong is a Certified Interior Designer in the State of California and Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). She studied at the University of California at Los Angeles in Interior Architectural Design and has more than 7 years in the industry. She has worked for firms specializing in hospitality and high-end residential. Independently, she has completed residential and commercial projects in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, London & Mykonos.

8 Comments Leave yours

  1. Thanks for visiting the Zenergy House. Just wanted to clear up a few things. We are not off the grid. We are tied to the grid, but Net-Zero Energy means that while we are producing energy during the day, our meter is spinning backwards crediting us… at night, when there is no sun light we are pulling from the grid. On an annual basis we are net-zero in terms of electricity. We are the first retrofit in Los Angeles using dianostic testing (comprehensive energy audit) and retrofit of an existing structure (no added square footage or structural modifications) using all non-toxic, recycled and organic materials, finishes and furnishings.

    With the drought tolerant landscape and dual flush toilets, engineered showerheads and fixtures our water usage is 70% less than similar homes. Once you fill up a swimming pool there is very little water that needs to be added during the year, so I don’t see a conservation issue in having a pool in the San Fernando Valley especially when the solar will cover the pool pumps energy needs. Lastly, I was misquoted about the water heater… my statement about teenage daughters taking long showers was based on the marketing of tankless water heaters and their endless hot water claims. Our conventional tank heater is so efficient that it makes more dollar sense than tankless. We are energy auditors and green building consultants we would never advocate 1 hr. showers even with a greywater system.

  2. Hi There! I ran into your site absolutely by mistake, and it turned out to being a blessing. You bring a lot of interesting things to the table and I will be back for more :) Thanks!

  3. Thanks Ron for the clarification about the grid. I am researching for a project for a (hopefully) “off-the-grid” orphanage in Haiti being built in a couple of months, so I wanted to see what works, what doesn’t work and why. http://wecanbuildanorphanage.com/

    About the shower…. phew…I feel better, I felt you were too sensible to allow that. Regarding the pool, I’m no expert but I would recommend a pool cover to limit the water loss. I couldn’t find LA statistics quickly enough for you, but here’s a evaporation chart from the City of Martinez, in the bay area. http://www.cityofmartinez.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=5930

    It was really helpful to see so many sustainable solutions implemented at your home. Hopefully Angelenos will follow suit and make similar upgrades and future remodel aiming for netzero also.

  4. Good info on water evaporation. Thanks.
    Tammy & I took a look at your website + design projects. They are so cool and luxuriously simplistic.
    Great work!

    The Haiti project is fantastic. Julia told us about it. Let us know if you or Tom need any info from us.

  5. Christine,
    I was at the opening of Zenergy House, however I didn’t get a chance to meet you. I want to thank you for posting our ECOR armoires and our company is ECOR Global.

    What Tammy and Ron did to pull off the Zenergy House opening was extraordinary and every home should be as energy efficient as theirs.

    You have a great site and some really cool designs and I look forward to following your posts.

  6. Hello,
    Nice information. It’s a home that is energy efficient but also produces its own power to maintain the home. A zero energy home is like all homes it is connected to the local electric utility and uses energy from the utility. The difference between regular homes that use electricity, a zero energy home makes enough power to send some back to the utility grid. It produces enough energy to run the home that results in a zero monthly electric balance.


  7. Thanks everyone to reading and commenting. Its great to know that this green movement is picking up speed and many households are aware of this now.

  8. Hello Christine,
    I am working on an orphanage in Haiti as well and would love to chat with you about your ventures there!
    email me. marcos@alloiinc.com

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