Guests of Jonathan Glickman’s political fundraisers can rest assured their venue is walking the walk of environmental sustainability.
In September 2017, the MGM president and Christy Callahan, his spouse, enlisted eco-friendly design-build firm CarbonShack to renovate their pool, backyard, guest house and bathrooms — using environmental best practices to lower the carbon footprint.
Completed in May 2018, the project resulted in 3,240.8 pounds of carbon dioxide saved annually at their Hancock Park home, where the couple hosted fundraisers for multiple Democratic presidential nominees this spring. That’s equivalent to more than 1,600 pounds of coal burned, according to CarbonShack.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Oh let’s be more eco-friendly.’ It was, ‘Let’s make our guest house livable,'” Callahan says. “I feel like now, every single thing we do, the consideration was like, ‘This is the green way to do it.’ I feel like it’s just in the culture now.” Since she last did renovations 10 years ago, “everything seems to have taken a big step forward.”
The couple approached CarbonShack — which offers services in architectural design, construction management, interior design and furnishings — about redoing their guest house and backyard in a way that still looked luxe and not necessarily eco-friendly, says Greg Roth, the senior designer of home front build.
“A lot of the things we did are very un-sexy changes to a home but that actually go a long way in making a big difference in terms of the carbon footprint and the energy usage,” Roth says.
Here’s how Glickman and Callahan went eco-friendly.
The impetus for the project was that they had to rebuild the pool, Callahan says, since the roots of her ficus hedges had invaded and compromised the pool on every side — “a huge drag because it looked fine.”
Roth discovered extensive leaks near the pool, which required he take up almost the entire pool deck. “It was going to be helpful ecologically in terms of stopping the water leakage. But on top of that, we were able to take off all the pavers on the concrete deck without damaging any of them, and we were able to reuse all of them,” Roth says.
So rather than having to demolish the existing stones near the pool and throw them in a trash pile, CarbonShack reused everything and added a little square footage. The company calculates that reusing the pool stones saved 2,747.7 pounds of carbon dioxide, in addition to their annual operational savings.
“The guest house was not really a guest house. It was sort of uninhabitable, and we made it a place where somebody could live,” Callahan says. “It’s really nice. … People have noticed that the guest house looks better, and people who stay in it certainly notice that it’s habitable now.”
Among the additions: heating, air-conditioning, insulation, weather stripping, window shades, energy-efficient appliances and tankless water heaters to reduce energy and water use. The guest house kitchen features a Fisher & Paykel refrigerator (with ActiveSmart technology, LED lighting and humidity control) and an Energy Star Bosch dishwasher.
“The windows and doors had no weather stripping, so it was just like a big sieve. There was air flowing in and out, and it was extremely inefficient,” Roth explains. “So we simply added weather stripping and put in new window coverings that were sort of full coverage for all of the glass windows and doors, which immediately cut down on their energy consumption.”
CarbonShack remodeled two bathrooms in the main house too. “Every aspect of the work that they asked us to undertake, we looked for ways to keep things low-profile in terms of the carbon footprint,” Roth says. He used all low-water-usage appliances — from Cal Faucets to Toto Connelly toilets — in the bathrooms.
The couple’s affinity for hosting big events — such as a recent fundraiser to support the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence — contributed to their desire to upgrade their backyard ambiance.
Callahan says she spent a lot on outdoor lighting and landscaping, including a new drip irrigation system that’s weather sensitive and water-saving. “Everything they did was in some way geared toward being more energy efficient and less polluting,” she adds.
Roth says that while Glickman has a traditional English garden opposed to a desertscape, they used a landscape designer to freshen things up, including some potted plants along the pool deck area and some low-water plants like lavender and the Australia-native kangaroo paw.
From sconces to spotlights, the clients wanted the landscape lighting to highlight the greenery in the garden and provide overall ambient lighting. “The backyard was not really well lit, and Jon and Christy tend to a lot of social events at their home in the backyard, especially for fundraisers and activist events, so they really needed some upgrading there,” Roth says.
The team also added gobos to provide dappled lighting throughout and spotlights for when they really want to brighten the whole yard.
All the new indoor and outdoor lighting was LED. “It wasn’t like, ‘Here’s the choice: You can use energy-sucking light bulbs or you can do LED light bulbs,'” Callahan says. “Now I can have parties at night that are well lit.” In total, their lighting saves 507.1 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.