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The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Eco-Friendly Home: Part 2

September 17, 2020

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creating an eco-friendly home represented by green grass and th NASA earth

I hope after reading Part 1 of my Going Green series you realize that getting on the right side of things when it comes to the environment is easier than you thought. With just a little planning and a few smart tech devices, you’re on your way to reducing those nasty greenhouse gasses. Here in highly populated California, those gasses can lead to droughts, fires, smog, floods, and water pollution. Communities around the world share our environmental concerns, so it’s a good idea to do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint.

Extraordinary Blufftop Hope Ranch Oceanfront slice of land with the blue ocean framed by a lovely tree.

Perhaps you want to buy a parcel of land in Santa Barbara, like the Extraordinary Blufftop Hope Ranch Oceanfront Opportunity pictured here, so you can do the green building of your dreams. Building from the ground up allows you to include ways to save energy, water, precious resources, and even money. Environmentally sensitive construction is becoming the norm today. Green building is already a more than a half-trillion-dollar industry in the United States, and more than a trillion-dollar industry worldwide.

Even more, recent reports point to an increasingly compelling business case for green buildings; providing evidence that constructing sustainable buildings is not only about saving our planet (although that’s a very important part of the movement). Greening our built environment in neighborhoods and cities delivers large-scale environmental solutions such as climate change mitigation, energy security, resource conservation, and job creation, resulting in long-term resilience and quality of life for generations to come. Green home remodeling is also on the rise, so keep that in mind when the time comes to tackle your next home improvement project. The bottom line: going green makes clear business and fiscal sense.

Tips on Green Building

1) Use Sustainable Materials In order to build a green home, one needs to know the green language. Let’s begin with the word sustainable. In the context of green homes, sustainable is a catch-all term that experts generally agree includes one or more of the following:

  • Recycled or Reused: Recycled material refers to something that has been reprocessed and tweaked to use whole -- like windows, doors, and flooring. Turning rubber tires into flooring is a prime example.
  • Sustainably Harvested: A primary example of this is wood that has been sustainably harvested. Besides coming from well-managed forests, the supply chain of these eco-friendly materials is documented and certified.
  • Quickly Renewable: A good example of this is bamboo used for flooring. Look for sustainable material that renews. Bamboo does because it’s a grass and not a wood.
  • Non-Toxic and Non-Allergenic: We’re talking about building materials with no formaldehyde or black mold. These two elements are often found in toxic and allergenic building materials.
  • Locally Sourced: It’s always good to use materials sourced within a roughly 100-mile radius. That way, your building materials do not have to be freighted for great distances.

2) Make Water-and Energy-Efficiency Part the Plan Intelligently built green homes take into account both water and energy resources. Santa Barbara homeowners can consider their home energy efficient simply by installing energy-smart appliances. When it comes to water efficiency, simple measures like installing low-flow showerheads and toilets can make a huge difference to the environment. Want more? Then insulate your estate as much as possible to keep the heat or cool inside and install plenty of skylights and windows to bathe your home in natural light.

3) Emphasize Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Ensure your home’s IAQ by using sustainable building materials and steering clear of everything that contributes toxins and allergens to the air. Using sustainable building materials will keep you and your family from formaldehyde, which is frequently found in non-sustainable building materials. Keep in mind that something as benign as water vapor can actually lead to the growth of toxic black mold. Other tips include selecting low VOC paints, floor coverings made of natural materials like wood for hard flooring rather than vinyl, and wool flooring instead of the sometimes-tacky man-made carpet.

4) Recycled or Reused Materials Reprocessed materials are the way to go. Reused materials are those used whole but are usually refurbished. A prime example is plastic bottles transformed into fences and benches. Think windows, doors, flooring, cabinets, plumbing fixtures. Even copper pipe is considered valuable enough to reuse.

5) Sustainably Harvested Sustainably harvested means that the materials come from transparent and well-managed production areas with a documented and certified supply chain. Wood certified by The Forest Stewardship Council is considered to be sustainably harvested.

6) Quickly Renewable This refers to building materials that have a fast turn-around growing cycle. Some good examples are bamboo, cork, cotton (especially when recycled), natural linoleum such as Marmoleum, wood, wheatboard, and strawboard.

7) Non-Toxic and Non-Allergenic

Formaldehyde is one foul element that is often found in toxic building materials. It is very important to stay clear of materials that contain formaldehyde because chemicals don’t stay put inside products. The big offenders are vinyl flooring, paint, foam plastic insulation, adhesives, sealants, and engineered woods with VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Instead, opt for something like Faswall Blocks. Made with recycled wood and non-toxic cement, the recycled content of these blocks makes them an excellent eco-friendly building product.

8) Locally Sourced Shop where you live. Why support a building industry that ships building products all over the world; adding to greenhouse gasses?

Green moving trucks in Santa Barbara in front of palm trees against a blue sky

Green Moving

Let’s say you built the perfect green home from top to bottom and are now ready to move in. Limiting your contribution to waste when moving may sound impossible, but it isn’t. It’s not only possible, but it’s also easy. All it takes is a little extra planning and preparation, but in the end, it will make you feel better that you’ve helped the environment.

Here in Santa Barbara, the choice to move green is a real no-brainer thanks to Movegreen, a local moving company voted best in the business by the Santa Barbara Independent five years in a row. The business strives to implement as many green practices as possible when it comes to moving; from using bio-diesel trucks and going paperless, to planting 10 trees with every move, as well as utilize recyclable and sustainable packing materials.

Besides contracting a green moving company, it’s possible to rent green boxes instead of wasting your time and money on the cardboard kind. Americans have been using cardboard to move for the last 100 years without understanding the total economic and environmental impact. When you rent green boxes, the same box will be used over and over again, which is good news for our expanding landfills. Also, take some time to purge and donate household goods to the local charity of your choice instead of simply throwing them out. Not only is that good for the environment, but it also helps those in need.

I hope this 2-part series has proven to you that with a few changes in your lifestyle, you can help us all make a difference in our environment. When you’re ready for building green or moving green to a green new home in Santa Barbara, Hope Ranch, Montecito, or any of the other surrounding upscale Santa Barbara area communities, give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at When it comes to going green, we all need to do what we can for the health of our planet.



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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch