No single individual we know of, has done more to enlighten and educate the public on the virtues of living a green and sustainable life than actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. He was living a green lifestyle long before it was considered “cool.” Going Organic Magazine featured Ed on the cover of our second issue, highlighting excerpts from his book, “Guide to Sustainable Living,” likely the most comprehensive book ever written on going green. Today, on evōx Television, a new and innovative online entertainment network, Ed and his lovely wife and daughter are educating and entertaining us once again in a brand new reality web series called, “On Begley Street,” as they attempt to build the greenest home in America. In the first season, the Begleys start construction on their brand new home. Going Organic asked Ed a few questions about the show:
Q. How did the idea for the online show “On Begley Street” come about?
A. It was my wife’s idea. Unless you really like it, then it was mine.
Q. Clearly, building this home has been a family effort. Is it fun to have everyone involved?
A. Rachelle and I have been very engaged from the start. And, we’re at that stage where we’re going to really enlist our daughter’s help…. by raiding her college fund to finish the project.
Q. What’s it like to have your wife and daughter part of “Building the greenest home in America?”
A. To be fair, the greenest home in America is probably a yurt in Topanga, but for a large and modern home, this home will be very green. And, Rachelle and Hayden’s input has been essential.
Q. It seems that at first, building a new green home was not your objective. What changed your mind?
A. We started with a remodel and experienced mission creep. To get the solar array out of the shade of the beautiful old oak tree to our south, we had to go up and include a second story. It snowballed from there.
Q. How are things going with the process?
A. We hope to be done this summer.
Q. What are a few of the most important aspects of building sustainably?
A. Including passive solar design, which really must include proper insulation throughout, to minimize heating and cooling costs.
Q. What are a few of the most important aspects of living sustainably?
A. Start small and build. Do the cheap and easy stuff first and move up the ladder, as you continue to save money.
Q. What are some of the most surprising things you’ve discovered along your journey to sustainability?
A. How much money you can save, if you do it right.
Q. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while building the greenest home in America?
A. Again, I’m not sure if this is the greenest home in America, but there were many challenges to do what we needed to do within our budget.
Q. What are some of the funniest things that have happened along the way?
A. I’ve probably laughed more than once the past two years that we’ve been under construction, but I don’t think I’ve laughed at the jobsite.
Q. What would you like viewers of “On Begley Street” to get out of the show?
A. The knowledge that there are some things anyone can afford that will help the environment, AND save money.
Q. You’ve promoted green and sustainable living for quite some time. Are you noticing increased interest and commitment to this kind of lifestyle?
A. Lately, interest in such matters seems to be on the rise, and that pleases me to no end.
Q. Are there any other projects or efforts you’d like our readers to know about?
A. I’m on a new video show called “Betas” that’s available online right now at Amazon Prime.
Scott Harris, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Building Construction Group, is the General Contractor for the Begley’s new home and talked about this ambitious and challenging project with Going Organic Magazine. Scott and the business he co-founded are uniquely suited to partner with the Begleys to build the greenest and most sustainable home in America. Since the age of five, Scott has been consumed with a fascination about the way our habitat interacts with our environment, and dreamed of becoming a builder who would better this world. After 24 years of construction, architecture and interior design experience, Scott co-founded Building Construction Group. The business is one of the most respected construction firms in Los Angeles and is becoming an example on how to bring about positive change to the client’s experience, our environment and a vision for a sustainable future.
A Lot Of Green
In order to have more than enough water to irrigate their property, the Begleys have taken what a residential water tank can be, to a new depth. It’s about 9 feet tall and 36 feet long, with a 10,000-gallon capacity. It’s massive, and buried underground. Scott shares, “The day that small submarine came through the gates, it stopped traffic. There have been so few installed, we went through a special process with the city to get approval. The way the rainwater catchment system is designed, it will collect enough water in two 1-inch rainfalls to completely fill the tank and will collect so much water during the rainy season, we’ll be installing a pumping system to discharge water out of the tank.”
“There are few people who realize that from rainwater alone and smart water management, you can sustain your own property, and many don’t realize how much water is being wasted when they’re irrigating their property using the public water supply. If you look at your sprinkler heads, and it says 3 GPM, you’re using 3 gallons of water every minute. And, if you’ve got 20 of those heads, just do the math. When you’ve got your sprinklers on for 10 minutes or longer, twice a day, the gallons of water being wasted on irrigation alone is a staggering number.”
Scott says it has been a true partnership working with the Begleys—emotionally and financially. Whenever his business builds a home for a client, he tells them, “We’re going to be married for some time. So, we have to make sure we like each other and have to get along first.” He says the Begleys have been great as far as the process goes, and have encouraged everyone to think differently. He adds, “They’ve brought us to take this journey with them, and very few clients are willing to do that.”
Solar Power To Spare
The Begley’s home will be fully equipped with solar panels. Even their air conditioning units will be solar powered, and most all of their electrical requirements will be able to be off the grid. ‘Off the grid’ means not pulling any electricity off of the municipal electrical power grid to be self-sustaining. “The power companies that provide the electricity, allow you to reverse the power through net metering. So if you’re generating more power than you’re consuming, the power can actually flow backwards, and your meter will flow the opposite way,” said Scott.
Throwing Away Pure Water Is Pure Waste
Scott shares that much of what is being done to make the Begley home green, anyone can do, such as collecting water from the air conditioning unit condensate line that goes into the sewer system. “People who have two to five air conditioning units at their house could be collecting as much as 20 gallons of water per day, depending on the climate zone. This water can be stored in a tank and used for irrigation. It’s something simple that’s free and I don’t think people realize that they’re throwing away some of the purest water you can get.”
Our Biggest Challenge: Make It affordable
“Armed with the goal to make the Begley’s new home the greenest in America, we’re doing all we can to make the plot of land self-sustainable by collecting all of the natural resources, such as energy from the sun and rainwater. We looked at geothermal, but it wasn’t affordable. One of our biggest challenges has been to make this affordable for the Begleys, and for others as well.”
Bright Ideas To Save Energy – And Money
Many people are not aware of how much electricity is being consumed in their homes. Scott says that simply changing light bulbs to lower energy-consuming bulbs—by saving five watts here and eight watts there, people can save quite a bit of energy and money. Also, electric devices, such as televisions, computers and chargers still drain energy, even when they’re turned off. “They’re energy pirates, constantly drawing power. For the Begley’s new home, we’re installing wall switches in key areas that completely disconnect electric use. People who aren’t building from scratch can spend a few dollars to have an electrician come in and hard wire these, and it’ll pay for itself in a couple months. If you gave me $200 and said ‘What are you going to do with it to quadruple the return on your money?’— I would put a power strip where your television and all your game devices are, to switch off when the devices aren’t being used, drain rainwater from your gutters to a couple trash barrels with water hoses, and disconnect your air conditioner condensate line and connect that to a rain storage device, so during the hot times of the year, you’re collecting water when there’s no rain,” suggests Scott.
The Contractor & Architect For The Begley’s New Home
Scott Harris of Building Construction Group www.buildingcgroup.com • (323) 297-2220 5820 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500 Los Angeles, CA 90036
William Hefner of Studio William Hefner Architecture, Interiors & Landscape www.williamhefner.com • (323) 931-1365 5820 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500,
Los Angeles CA 90036
As the dynamic CEO of San Francisco-based evōx Television, Xav Dubois is a genuine fan of On Begley Street, the evōx web series that follows actor and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr., his wife Rachelle Carson-Begley and their daughter Hayden as they attempt to build the greenest and most sustainable home under North America’s LEED Platinum Certified standards. “Ed and Rochelle are so funny, it really cracks me up to watch them interact,” says Dubois. Regarding Ed Begley’s devotion to green, sustainable living, he adds, “Ed really walks the talk.”
Evōx features a wide range of top quality HD video programming, including reality, comedy and drama, as well as talk shows, documentaries and cooking shows. New content is rolled out weekly, created by established producers, and independent content creators. Evōx’s content is available worldwide on its website and via Roku Internet set-tops. “We just launched our Samsung Smart TV platform and Xbox is next, shares Dubois. All told, evōx will be accessible on 33 million devices in the U.S. and 87 million devices worldwide (not including PCs).
Dubois says that evōx is very particular about the kind of programming it offers to provide an integrated online entertainment experience that inspires positive changes in the way people live. “We have an Advisory Board that consists of therapists, Western doctors, Eastern doctors and philosophers, among others, who help determine programming, so we can bring people who are watching network television, content interesting enough to tweak their interest by being a bit different, to give them a new thought of a new action they can take.”
In addition to providing entertaining, informative and inspiring programming, evōx offers an online marketplace dedicated to promoting sustainable commerce and connecting evōx viewers with goods and services from globally-conscious brands that support their healthy lifestyles. Dubois explains, “We fully vet our online marketplace businesses. We want to know how the people who make the products are taken care of.”
Evōx is tapping into the interests of consumers that make up the 2 trillion dollar LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) global market segment focused on health, wellness and quality of life. 41 million LOHAS consumers embrace products and services that promote healthy living, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living.
“We’re a new kind of television that puts caring about our planet and the people in it at the center of what we do. We’re an online entertainment television network and a conscious marketplace looking to celebrate the good things about you, your family, your community, and your world. We’re the antidote to television as you know it. We’re bringing you original television programming over the Internet that’s focused on expanding consciousness and finding deeper meaning in life. We’re giving our viewers information that feeds an active and inspired way of being. Whether you’re focused on health, wellness, global and social issues, food, wine, travel, community projects, or more conscious consumerism, you’ll find it at evōx. We’re the next evolution in entertainment,” says Dubois.
Going Organic Magazine hopes this issue’s cover story featuring Ed Begley Jr. and his family’s quest to build the greenest home in America, will inform and inspire our readers to make some basic changes in their homes to save energy, and save money. Conserving water is a key to living green. But what about the water we drink and the water we use on our bodies?
The average family can use 400 gallons of water every day, and, on average, approximately 70% of that water is used indoors. If your water isn’t clean, it isn’t healthy, and the good news, is that it’s easy to do something about it.
The Begleys had a LifeSource whole-house water filter system installed in their last house in 2008, and there were never doubts about what would come from the spouts in his new home. “I prefer to cook with filtered water and shower with filtered water and wash my hands with filtered water, too. Studies have shown that you can actually absorb more toxins from your water by showering in it than by drinking it. So I’m a big fan of whole-house water filtration systems,” said Begley.
Ed and his wife, Rachelle chose the LifeSource whole-house water system to once again meet their eco-friendly criteria; water conservation, energy efficiency, and replace the need for bottled water.“States and municipalities spend incredible sums of money to bring water right to our homes. And then what do we do? We drive to the store, we burn fossil fuel, and we buy water imported from Fiji. That water was processed and put into plastic bottles, which is a petroleum product. Plus, is it good for us to be drinking water that’s stored in plastic bottles? I highly doubt it. I certainly don’t want plastic leaching into the water I put into my body. Not to mention that some of those bottles of water get shipped halfway around the world. Even the domestic bottled water gets trucked to warehouses and then trucked to retail stores. Bottled water just creates this horribly unnecessary carbon footprint,” said Begley.
“Tap water is really good when it’s filtered. In fact we think our LifeSource water is even better than bottled water,” he adds.
For additional information contact local representative, Stacia Armstrong, an Indio resident since 2007, at (909) 574-0491 or visit www.LifeSourceWater.com.