The TH Interview: Steve Glenn, Founder and CEO of LivingHomes
Steve Glenn has been on a tear of late. Capping off weeks of buildup and fawning media coverage - from the likes of us - the WIRED Home finally opened its doors to the public earlier this week to great fanfare. Despite his demanding schedule, Glenn was kind enough to sneak in some time for a short discussion about the home, his company and his future goals.
LivingHomes' partnership with WIRED first originated as a result of the two organizations' mutual focus on good design and technology. The collaboration eventually led to the concept for the WIRED Home - a high-tech, futuristic and eco-friendly house based on a prefab model designed by renowned architect Ray Kappe. Glenn credited a lot of the new attention (and success) his homes had received over the past year to a renewed interest in green technologies and prefab architecture.Glenn ascribed the decision to ask Ray Kappe to design the first model for his homes to the famed architect's "confluence of experience and values," lauding him for his vision in being among the first to embrace prefab homes and in leading the way with his use of energy-efficient, sustainable technologies. Describing Kappe as being one of his favorite architects, he cited his keen attention to craftsmanship and warmth - a combination which he noted was rare - as critical attributes he believed would show through his designs and thus appeal to a broader audience.
Shifting to LivingHomes' future plans, he told us that the company was considering several new designs - having recently signed on David Hertz, another noted architect - though he emphasized that expansion wasn't his current focus. Responding to criticism that his homes were simply too extravagant to be considered truly "green" - a point that we've often heard made both in the comments and on other sites - Glenn defended LivingHomes by saying that he was appealing to the segment of home buyers interested in buying large, pricier models.
Arguing that there was an institutional bias towards larger, more expensive homes, Glenn said his company was simply trying to provide a better, more eco-friendly alternative to some of the other McMansions available on the market. "You can either take a self-righteous man and say I won't be involved with bigger homes or you can say, if it's going to be done, it should be done in the right way," he explained.
He also cited his company's strict adherence to the LEED certification program - saying LivingHomes' policy is to never build anything less than a silver rating - as evidence for his company's focus on only building sustainable homes. Indeed, because the system penalizes larger homes, he explained that his designers often had to compensate by incorporating more resource-conserving, energy-efficient technologies.
The final bit of good news he had to share with us concerning the next models his company will be rolling out within the coming year was that they would be a big leap forward: both in terms of eco-friendly features and costs (we can't wait). Be sure to give the WIRED Home a whirl if you're in the LA area over the next few days and check out our exhaustive archive for more information (and pics) about the home and LivingHomes' portfolio.