Building Green on WGBH Boston PBS TV – Review

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Hosted by Kevin Contreras

Recently, I took the time to research the local library’s database searching for green titles in both books and DVDs.  One result was a three DVD set of the PBS show Building Green which is also available for sale in the usual places such as  The DVD set chronicles the building of Kevin Contreras’ green dream home in Santa Barbara, California.  The building of the home, although out of most of our price ranges, still offers insight into the many green alternatives to traditional construction.  I would recommend the show or purchase of the DVD set as a starting point to any green building or remodeling project.

The thirteen episodes of season one, take you through the construction of a straw bale home, which in itself, changed my mind about the practicality and safety of the materials. Where straw bales couldn’t be used, Kevin chose blue jean insulation, a viable alternative to that itchy, dangerous fiberglass, which we’ve all used for years.  Meeting California earthquake standards resulted in a steel frame construction and first floor concrete floors with radiant heating, beautifully finished with non-toxic alternatives.  Upstairs floors and all the windows and doors used reclaimed wood, again finished with environmentally sound products. The kitchen came out beautifully with pre-made Valcucine ( cabinetry.  Other segments covered interior design including the use of non-traditional wall finishes and non toxic paints. Outside garden areas and landscaping are also addressed with some great ideas. Then, what impressed me the most was that the outside of the house will never need painting because of its earthen exterior and finishing. Talk about win-win.

Finally, to my delight, Shaklee Products ( were presented by Sloan Barnett as a way to keep the green in clean.  As you know, we use Shaklee at home and it was fun to watch the segment.  Then the entire first season recaps with what else, a grand party. The house came out beautifully in a way that would even make Ed Begley proud, and we all know how hard it is to please Ed.

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