Photos by Asia Morris.
There's a house on Ximeno Ave., right before you get to Pacific Coast Highway, if you're heading North toward the traffic circle, that stands out like a diamond in the rough—if you're a fan of modern design, that is. 1505 Ximeno Ave., registered with the certification goal of becoming the first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum single-family home in Long Beach, isn't suited for the common family, or the common city and certainly wasn't built by a common developer.
The 1505 house is gawked at by passersby, is pointed at, is brought up with phrases like, "Oh, I think I've seen that house before..." because of its unforgettably bold, hard lines and seemingly simple design. According to Tim Stuart of The Long Beach Company, the forward-thinking construction and design team behind the remodeling, people seem to either love it or completely disagree with its minimalist aesthetic, set among the much older houses lining Ximeno Ave. and 15th St. Stuart, who designed the progressive remodel, was already thinking ahead when he took on the project.
It stands out as a step in the right direction toward a sustainable lifestyle that will either be forced upon us when we run out of water or that we can step gracefully into with a little more effort and consideration than our mostly unsustainable practices seem to warrant today. It may take a while for the City's residents to understand it and accept it as a viable way to live, but the 1505 house is setting the bar for future green projects in Long Beach and is a convincing argument, to say the least, that maintaining a much more thoughtful existence is actually very, very doable.
Stuart, who put his heart and soul into each and every detail, nook and cranny of the home, would be the last person to bring up his goal of Platinum LEED certification, but certainly wouldn’t waste a second to explain that taking on a more prudent lifestyle can be quite an elementary undertaking. Some of the details of the home, including its rainwater harvesting barrel, its drought-tolerant, native landscaping, rooftop solar panels and LED recessed lighting are common attributes of environmentally-friendly structures, yet make up just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this address.
Low VOC (volatile organic compound) or no-VOC paints, sealants and construction adhesives were used, an Energy Recovery Ventilator was installed so that fresh air can enter the home without having to open any doors and tankless, point-of-use water heaters, one underneath the kitchen sink and one in the bathroom, eliminate the waste and lack of efficiency of using one large water heater for every single pipe in the home.
A Reflective Cool Roof coating along with a reflective coating on the windows keeps the inside of the house at a comfortable temperature, eliminating any real “need” for an air conditioner. All gaps and openings, including the empty space generally left unfilled around electrical outlets, have been sealed to prevent warm air from permeating the conditioned indoor environment. And if it gets too cold, put a sweatshirt on, as Stuart would succinctly implore. A Photovoltaic system, or in other words, the solar panels, are set up so that the future owner can see in real time just how much electricity is being produced to give life and light to an all-electric kitchen and the rest of the home; Stuart designed the home so that no combustion gasses need to be used.
One interesting detail was a decision to leave something out, to surrender an appliance that is often preferred and taken for granted by many homeowners, especially in a modern, newly built structure such as 1505. Stuart deliberately left out the dishwasher in a Frank Lloyd Wright- esque move to encourage the home’s future residents to wash their dishes together. As a family man himself, he envisioned the activity as a way for the family to spend time together as well as put a little more thought into the water usage that goes into cleaning each plate.
Stuart is the kind of person who is astounded at the thought of maintaining a lawn in a desert climate, a completely unsustainable practice arguably mired in the still-unfurling tangled social threads of suburban cookie-cutter living. If you must have a yard, he says, fill it with native California plants that use less water, that don’t require an inane sprinkler system that oftentimes ends up watering more of the sidewalk than the actual plants that need it. It's not just about this one home, it's about changing our day-to-day habits to live with more consideration for our available resources.
The Long Beach Company, known for their state-of-the-art sustainable construction, have been perfecting their craft for the last seven years and won’t take any jobs outside of the City in an effort to keep their practice as efficient as possible, in an effort to build connections and community with the local residents, contractors, builders and other specialists who work in the area. Stuart’s craft and practice is based on common sense, outstanding design and a return to simplicity.