Playa: A LEED Platinum Home in a McMansion Neighborhood

Some diehard environmentalists consider eco-mansions an oxymoron at best, with militant types even setting fire to greenwashed mega-homes! But eco-mansion haters sometimes ignore an inconvenient truth: Huge homes are constantly getting built, and most of these are anything but green.

That’s the impetus behind “Playa” (above), a case study green home being built in Westchester, Calif., by Go Green Construction. The house, admittedly, will be huge — 4,300 square feet huge, to be exact — and located in a neighborhood that’s not particularly public transit-friendly. On the other hand, Playa’s also pre-rated for LEED platinum, serving as a self-described “living laboratory of green design” in a neighborhood full of ungreen McMansions.

playaThe rooftop view from Playa (left) alone shows the need for green building in this neighborhood, where smoggy haze floats above multi-story single family homes. In contrast to the massive footprints of its neighbors, Playa will boast a full solar array, graywater recycling system, living walls, and smart house automation which allows residents to control the power of the house remotely.

When I stopped by to see the house-in-making last week, I could already see how Playa will be lit up with natural sunlight from the atrium. I also saw proof that Playa’s building materials really are green — as evidenced by the FSC certification stamps on the wood!

All the green features incorporated into Playa are enough to inspire any eco-builder: High efficiency spray foam insulation, low-E glazing double pane windows, Energy Star rated appliances, tankless water heating system, and an elecric car recharging station are just some of the eco-extras to admire. And of course, Playa’s low-VOC painted rooms will be lit with LED and CFL bulbs. Outside, a drought tolerant and native plant landscape will complement the permeable pavement.

Go Green Construction also took care to make sure the old materials didn’t go straight to the landfills. The previous structure was carefully deconstructed (above); 95% of materials were reused or recycled with the help of Habitat for Humanity and other organizations and companies.

Playa will be completed in early 2009, when it’ll open for tours and workshops to educate the public and industry professionals about the feasibility of building green. I plan to visit again in a few months to see firsthand all the state of the art eco-tech appliances and systems in action!

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