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The Green Lifestyle
Home Design

Green Is In!

by Gary Drake

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Green Is In!

Green is in! Nearly all of my clients, to some degree or other, are incorporating the latest eco-friendly products into their projects and transforming their living environments from “drab to fab” in the process. In addition to the aesthetic value that many of these products possess, they also help instill harmony between their homes and Mother Nature. For the most part, building with green materials bears no greater expense than with traditional products and it’s also good for resale.

How difficult is it to make your home green? The following are some tips that you should consider if you’re building your dream home or about to remodel your existing one:

  • While solar panels can have high upfront costs, they do save homeowners money in the long-run. Also, many believe that the new Obama administration might give the green light for greater tax breaks and other incentives, thus giving homeowners a break. (Also available on the market or will soon make their debuts are solar powered air conditioning and heating units, which are less expensive than solar panel systems and are much more affordable.)
  • Another new trend in construction that is especially popular on the East Coast and in colder climates is to install insulated concrete forms – poured concrete walls that are made of foam insulation. They decrease heat consumption by 41% and reduce the need for cooling by 30%.
  • Since older model appliances suck up more power, I encourage the use of more efficient models bearing the “EnergyStar” logo. * New refrigerators are more than 30% more efficient than older models. * New dishwashers use 1/3 less water than older models and save about 4,300 gallons per year. * New ovens and ranges conserve energy by powering up and down like computers.
  • By installing low-energy lighting and constructing the home to take full advantage of natural light, you can lower your energy costs by about 15 % while simultaneously enhancing the overall look and mood of your home.
  • Environmentally friendly flooring (including those made from materials harvested from living trees like cork or natural grasses such as bamboo, woven reeds or palm) not only look great, but wear well and help enhance the home’s overall value. Once installed, they can be sealed for even greater longevity with non-toxic, water-based sealers. 
  • Choose paints that bear the “low VOC” (volatile organic compound) designation. This indicates that they were produced without toxic ingredients or harmful fumes. They impact one’s health and the environment in a minimal way.
  • Once the home is built, homeowners can purchase furnishings made from non-endangered woods and/or recycled materials. Ask retailers to recommend items constructed in an environmentally sensitive fashion, i.e. woods that are not endangered and harvested from renewable sources, fabrics that are not treated with harsh dyes and chemicals, etc.
Going green refers not only to the products one chooses, but adherence to every aspect of the building process.  For instance, during demolition, I make sure to salvage materials that can be reused later in the project and send the rest for recycling. Reclaiming materials saves money and reduces waste that goes to the landfill.

With a client list that includes Madonna, Sting, Rod Stewart, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher and business tycoon Robert Day, Gary Drake, CEO of Drake Construction, has earned an excellent reputation for ultra high quality home construction. Established in 1983, Drake Construction is one of the few companies in the field that maintains a primarily female executive team. The firm specializes in high-end residential construction primarily in Los Angeles’ tony Westside. Among its areas of specialty are hillside construction, condominium renovation, green building, historic home renovation and developing otherwise “useless” terrain to construct guesthouses, swimming pools or other recreational amenities thus maximizing the property’s value. For more information, visit

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