Eco-Home Tour with a Pioneer in Los Angeles

Eco-Home Tour with a Pioneer in Los Angeles

Julia starts her tour by showing her solar panels. She has stories about the various DWP initiatives she has worked with in trying to install and use her solar panels. She then welcomes you into her xeriscape yard made of various native and non-native drought tolerant plants and trees.  She only waters them once a year in July via drip irrigation. Having the deciduous trees in growing the right areas of her yard could help cool her home during the summers; she waters this with greywater.  Then she leads us into her traditional craftsman home she has made upgrades to through the years.  This gives us a very good idea how a typical existing home could just make cost-effective upgrades without having to go through an expensive renovation.

Here are some upgrades/recommendations she made:

  • Eaves – It happens that the eaves on her home were done with the sun and shade in mind. Its also at a good pitch for solar panels.
  • Solar hot water panels on the south side.
  • Solar Cells – she says she got these from an old DWP initative that installed it for her for free, but continues to charge her for the electricity she uses. When the initiative ended, they tried to charge her for it…or have it removed.
  • California home efficiency rating – she recommends doing this first which is an analysis of the energy consumption of your home and how to improve its efficiency -  REAS is a great source.
  • Weather stripping and dual pane glass windows. There’s also window film that you could have done which will save a lot on your energy bills. Currently there are DWP incentives to get it done which would subsidize your purchase.
  • Low/No VOC paints for exterior & interior.
  • Better insulation keep your home quiet, keeps the cool in the summers and warm during the winters. She had blown in cellulose installed.
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Ceiling fans are more energy efficient
  • CFL – compact fluorescent lamps are much more efficient and each bulb last much longer; this could save you 70% on your next bill and contribute less waste to the landfills.
  • Skylights – this could provide lots of natural light during the day, sometimes eliminating the need for artificial lighting.
  • Flooring – she has natural linoleum made of linseed oil. She also recommends cork flooring.
  • Cleaning products – She recommends Shaklee cleaning products, Ecover for dishes and home remedies such as baking soda & vinegar (add some essence oils to help with smell).
  • Energy Star appliances are key to increasing energy efficiency and lowing costs.
    Julia on tour

    Julia on tour

  • She has a space on her kitchen counter that leads straight into her composting bin, which she empties into the larger yard composting bin.



  • Her beautiful yard is mostly edible plants and fruit trees. She has separate areas for summer vs. winter plants.  She doesn’t use greywater for the veggies

    Julia's edible garden

    Julia's edible garden

  • She has a solar oven that’s wonderful during the summerEco-Home Tour from duongdesignscom on Vimeo.

    Solar Oven

    Solar Oven

  • She is proud that she hasn’t had a car in 20 years, in LA, wow!!! She bikes and uses public transport. Its just a lifestyle choice but its completely do-able for those who thinks its impossible.

    Julia's choice of transportation

    Car-less for 20 years in LA

She ends the tour in her office, which is a converted garage (since she does not have a car).  She concludes that society is raping mother earth, we try to dominate her and demand her to produce. We have no reverence. We need to learn reverence for nature.

We need to learn reverence of nature

We need to learn reverence for nature


Here are some recommended links:

Here’s a great resource the greening process.

Map of the other Eco-Homes in the network

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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.

1 Comment Leave yours

  1. Reading this reminds me of my late room mate. That guy was one of the smartest characters I know, but he was a little nutty for my tastes though. Anyways I liked reading this, thanks. Will give me something to talk about when I see him.

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