Green Goals

Forest “green washing” Carbonshack is serious about Eco-Friendly, sustainable homes.

Carbonshack began in 2017 with a lofty vision: to create and promote zero-emission homes that inspire their users to become better stewards of the environment. Since then, the Los Angeles-based team of architects, designers, and tradespeople headed by Stephen Pallrand has continued to raise awareness about eco-friendly strategies in residential design. Whether it’s using non-VOC paints and finishes, reducing a home’s embodied carbon footprint by choosing repurposed and salvaged materials, or switching from natural gas to electric for home heating and cooling, the message is to do something.

The firm’s case study for building green is Casa Zero, Pallrand’s own home in Mount Washington. Designed to take into account the entire life cycle of the structure and everything in it, the new, all-electric dwelling is constructed of reclaimed, recycled, and low-impact construction materials and is equipped with features such as solar panels and a heat pump water heater. “The goal was to see how low could we get the footprint of a newly constructed home,” explains Greg Roth, CarbonShack’s senior interior designer.

Historically, the building sector has been a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions around the world. According to the nonprofit research organization Architecture 2030, the built environment produces close to 50 percent of annual CO2 emissions globally. Of these, building operations are responsible for 27 percent, while building materials and the construction process are responsible for an additional 20 percent. “Sustainability is important and crucial for our industry,” Roth notes. “We’re showing that it can be done beautifully.”

Pallrand, who launched CarbonShack as an offshoot of his sustainable designbuild firm Home Front Build, contends that a home is only as eco-friendly as its inhabitants. To make the process of building green easier to understand, CarbonShack created the interactive “Embodied Energy Calculator,” which allows professionals and non-professionals alike to tally a home’s embodied energy (aka the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the harvesting, manufacturing and transportation of materials, the construction process itself, and the disposal of these materials) and compare the CO2 savings gained by swapping out a particular material for another. Their companion website,, meanwhile, is a tool for calculating how much energy a home generates yearly and how that number can be lowered by transitioning to energy-efficient technologies and appliances.

In October, CarbonShack opened a showroom featuring sustainable interior products, including lighting, textiles, and furnishings. Notes Roth, “Finishes are as important as the systems that go into the home, and we wanted to highlight that.

But he emphasizes that helping to save the planet doesn’t have to be an all-ornothing proposition. “It can be overwhelming as a homeowner if you have a historic home or even a new home prospect,” he says. “We’re not advocating orthodoxy. We’re saying: do something. One small step can make a difference.”

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