Monday, December 27, 2010

Green Living - The Very Next New Thing


Now the green movement is literally taking flight with the first “green” or environmentally friendly house that has been made from a retired 747 jet in Malibu, California. The trend to building green has been gathering steam, as more new homes are built with solar panels, sustainable lumber, energy-efficient devices, and other elements of eco-friendly homes. This house made of from recycled airliner parts is drawing attention to this growing trend.

Talk of this jet-style home has been all over the news—from TV news broadcasts to Internet news feeds. As described in one of these articles from the Times Union,  the house is being built for Francie Rehwald by David Hertz and his architectural firm, Studio of Environmental Architecture, based in Santa Monica. A photo of the house shows it nestled under two large wings which measure about 5,500 square feet that form the roof. The rest of the house includes every other part of the plane. For example, a piece of fuselage is used to create an art studio; part of the tail is being turned into a viewing platform overlooking the Pacific; the first-class lounge is being turned into a guest house; and the nose cone is becoming a center for meditation. In fact, the architectural design calls for every part of the plane to be used in the building.

The project got started when Rehwald, an environmentalist and art lover, decided on a house that combined her love of recycling, green houses, contemporary architecture, nature, and the natural environment. She approached Hertz and his company, widely known in the building industry for “building ‘green’ houses out of recycled and natural materials.” After she found the old 747 in an airplane junkyard in the Mojave Desert, she purchased it for $35,000. Then she had to go through a bureaucratic and logistical nightmare to get the house made—she had to get approvals from 17 government agencies and hire a helicopter at $10,000 an hour to fly in the huge 125-foot wing sections to her property in the Malibu hills. Fortunately, her neighbors approved and even loved the concept. Once Rehwald moves in, probably by early 2011, undoubtedly, the press will be out in force to cover the unusual living arrangements.

I was especially intrigued by this story, because it highlights the growing interest in green living, which is not only reflected in new eco-friendly cars, healthier eating and diets, more interest in exercise and fitness, a rise in urban gardening, and a decline in smoking, but in living in green homes, too. Hertz and his architectural firm have designed dozens of such places for customers featured on his Web site, and dozens of Web sites now feature green homes.

For example, the Web site lists such homes for sale all over the country, such as an elegant solar-powered adobe home plus studio near Santa Fe, New Mexico, and an extremely energy efficient, net-zero energy house with passive and active solar systems. The Environmental House Energy and Green Building Resource Center ( offers home energy audits, tours of its facility, and consulting on various programs, techniques, and projects. 

Another site,, with the ABC standing for architecture, building, and culture (, provides green home plans, a link to green homes for sale, a directory of environmental and green building projects, and links to Internet resources for “sustainable development, green building, and environmental communities.” Environmental House Plan ( offers building plans and blueprints for an energy-effi cient, environmentally friendly home powered by solar panels. 

Thus, a growing market is developing for eco-friendly, energy-efficient homes, and, as the 747 house illustrates, more and more of these homes might be made from recycled materials, which might be an especially important trend, as resources dwindle due to the population explosion, climate change, and other factors. Perhaps other people may be inspired by Rehwald ’ s example to want to live in a home made from a recycled plane.

There are many other possibilities for recycling, too. For instance, consider all of the junked autos left in junkyards or abandoned on city streets. Maybe the materials from these could be salvaged and used in homes. Another source of materials might be long-closed warehouses. Or maybe the factories of manufacturing companies that go bankrupt might have materials that can be used in homes. Still another possibility would be old mineshafts—possibly some of the structures left in the Earth might find another use above ground.

Perhaps builders and architects might scour the local dumps for possible materials to use. At one time, the San Francisco dump had a resident artist who used found objects from the dump to make art that was later exhibited and sold. Maybe artists and architects might apply to local dumps that don’t currently have an artist in residence to establish such a program; such art might be especially appealing to the clients buying these eco-friendly homes. In fact, maybe art galleries or Web sites will spring up devoted to such art. I’ve seen occasional shows in the San Francisco Bay Area featuring artists working with such materials. As more and more people live in homes created from recycled materials, there is apt to be a growing market for recycled art.


Check back tomorrow for an ABC-CLIO end-of-the-year contest, and you could win a free copy of Gini Graham Scott's new book, as well as one book of your choice from the ABC-CLIO catalog.



  1. I wish the folks who make shows like "Extreme Home Makeover" would stop bulldozing houses and get with the recycle/reuse/restore/repair idea. They give a really bad example, and the new homes they build aren't even green (I think! To be honest, I can't watch more than five minutes of that junk.)

  2. You did an awesome post. I like it. Thank you for sharing and keep posting.

    Charles A