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Green is a big part of the blueprint for Pacific Palisades house

A swarm of workmen constructing a $3-million environmentally friendly house in Pacific Palisades is also trying to build the next generation of ecology-minded developers and consumers.

That explains why 50 carpenters, electricians and other tradesmen took the day off Thursday so hundreds of students and professionals could traipse through the half-finished home and view its energy-saving features before interior walls are enclosed with sheetrock.

The residence on Via De La Paz is part of a national demonstration project by Green Builder Media, an Eastsound, Wash., organization that promotes sustainable construction and “green” building techniques.

For the two-story Pacific Palisades house, the group is working with a Woodland Hills-based construction company, Structure Home.

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Students from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and from Palisades High School’s environmental science classes were among those peering through framing to see how spray-on insulation was being used to tightly seal exterior walls.

Other features include low-flow plumbing devices, a termite and mold control application that also serves as a fire retardant and large double-paned windows that flood the home with natural light.

The students listened as Green Builder president Ron Jones explained how the house will be solar-powered and equipped with its own generator for periods of extended cloudiness. Its garage will include a built-in charging station for electric cars and its kitchen will be outfitted with energy-saving appliances.

The visitors had plenty of questions. Tehmina Dinshah, a 17-year-old Palisades High student, wanted to know the how the cost of an eco-friendly home compares to that of a conventional dwelling. Classmate Brandon Newman, 18, was curious whether the builders would eventually sell to an environmentally focused buyer or to “the highest bidder.” Stedman Halliday, 17, wondered about the fastest way to turn an older house into an energy-saver.

Jones said adding a solar water heater is the quickest thing Halliday could do. “Even the simplest system will provide all the hot water you need,” he said.

He insisted that building ecologically adds only about 3% to the cost of construction. He suggested that the eventual purchaser of the 5,200-square-foot dwelling will probably be environmentally minded. “I’ve personally turned down clients, but there still are a lot of people waiting to be paid” for their work on the project, he told Newman.

Later, those attending a UCLA workshop led by Jones and Glen MacDonald, director of the school’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, had similar questions.

“I’m looking for practicality for the mass market. This type of construction is expensive now, not cost-efficient,” said Natalie Marte, 22, a senior studying environmental science. Classmate Jason Miller, 21, was confident that costs will come down. “We can’t do things like we have in the past,” he said.

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Marte and Miller said they have not yet visited Jones’ Pacific Palisades project, which he dubbed a “Vision House.” But both said they planned to do so.

Once the house is completed in May, it will be open for a two-month demonstration period for sponsors who donated materials as well as for students and others interested in the project’s concept, said Robert Kleiman, co-founder of Structure Home.

He said his company hopes to build similar homes in the Los Angeles area that will illustrate environmental construction techniques.

Next-door neighbors Robert and Cynthia Kelly, who sold Kleiman the lot after using it for a swimming pool, said they have been closely following the construction.

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“I’m pleased they’re doing a sustainable house,” said Cynthia, “although it’s a little bit bigger than I thought it would be.”

bob.pool@latimes.com


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