"The Crafty Mom"
Mary Lyon  is currently building a 6,700 square foot spectacular "green"
home in Brentwood, California. It is a three-story
passive solar home equipped with solar
photovoltaic panels that generate electricity (9 kilowatts will be
generated to run the house). One hundred percent
of the roof tiles and resilient flooring are made out of recycled
tires. She tells all about it.
LISTEN (7 min)

The self-sustaining home is "designed to last 200 years," says
Lyon. The environmentally conscious Lyon
wanted to have a house "tailored to the family and who we are. The
house doesn’t force us to give up anything it is up to us to fulfill
its purpose.

Insulation (Ultratouch) for the home is made from post-industrial
blue jean manufacturing, and woods are composite wood products — palm
wood for flooring and bamboo for the ceilings.   Bamboo is a
fast-growing renewable resource and palm wood is taken from crops of
already chopped down palm trees (otherwise, trees are cut and the wood
is left to rot on beaches).

A trapezoid shaped water wall artwork by artist Blue McRight
measuring close to 18-feet-high greets those entering the home for a
feeling of immediate tranquility.   An automated lighting system with
motion and pressure sensors is set up throughout the house so that the
lights will follow a person throughout the home. Lights will dim and
eventually turn off after sensing no one is in the room, thus saving
electricity. The system can also be set to the manual mode if guests
prefer using light switches. This "smart house" is able to be
controlled to the family’s preferences.   

"My husband wired the whole place electronically so it’s a ‘smart
house’ and he can almost literally play it like a keyboard – more
energy conservation and savings.   The solar power provides us some tax
breaks and save us money on our utility bills, allowing us to ‘bank’
energy for later use," says Lyon.
A complete home reverse osmosis water filtration system is installed so
every faucet in the house will run clean drinking water.   Laundry gray
water will be recycled and used to water the lawn and gardens.   
Each room is fitted with a skylight, which can be controlled
electronically to exhaust hot air out and passively cool the house as
needed, allowing the house to breathe and save on air conditioning
(only two rooms will be air conditioned).   

In addition, the great room features a 9′ x 20′ telescoping glass
wall that opens to the patio/outdoor yard allowing the beauty of the
outdoor gardens to flow into the home. The living room displays a
vintage Douglas fir wood column that Lyon and her husband found and salvaged from
an old torn down building.   A unique charging station specifically
built to recharge the family’s electronic equipment (i.e. cell phones,
cameras, etc.) sits in an area of the great room.   

Other features include a recording studio with cork wood flooring
built partially underground for natural cooling and soundproofing; a
three-level elevator to accommodate Lyon‘s husband who has a wooden leg;
Lyon‘s art studio has a large curved window to
allow for a view outside, outside is clad in copper panels; a
multi-purpose room that can double as a guest room for their two
remaining elderly parents; and a cat room that can keep their pet away
from allergic guests. Lyon personally designed tiles for the backsplash of her art studio using dichroic glass fusing techniques.
     According to Lyon
they wanted a house that was a "blend of the Jetsons and the
Flintstones. "We’re looking to be as cutting-edge as we can, and maybe
to set an example, that you don’t have to build some barren dome in the
wilderness somewhere to have an environmentally friendly home.   It can
look as nice and beautiful and inviting as any of them out there." This
ambitious project has already attracted many neighboring homeowners who
stop by and ask to learn more about the alternative environmentally
friendly resources the family is using.