Habitat for Humanity supporters visited six properties stretching from Montecito to Goleta during the “Tour of Green Homes” benefit on Saturday, October 9. Ranging from ever-curious neighbors to generous patrons, more than 250 participants observed what these first-rate sustainable homes have to offer.

The tour, organized by Habitat’s Southern Santa Barbara Chapter, ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets were priced at $25 for a self-tour and $125 for an Airbus tour with champagne. All proceeds benefited Habitat for Humanity.

The tour showcased the affordable housing project under construction on San Pascual Street. The building is “as green as we can make it,” said development associate Alexandra Ramstrum. The four unit, owner-occupied condominium will feature Energy Star appliances, drought tolerant, landscaping and low-flow toilets.

Joyce McCullough, executive director of the chapter, is proud of the building’s green features. “If we can do it for affordable housing, then every house can do it,” she said.

The new homeowners toured Congresswoman Lois Capps through the unfinished units. Capps congratulated Patty Perez and Gabriel Escamilla of Unit 3, who will move in with their three children in time for the holidays.

“This is such a tough area to own a home,” Capps said. “Hardly anybody gets to do that.”

Other homes in the tour boasted professionally landscaped designs and sustainable features. Properties were scattered with laminated signs, each describing a particularly green detail. Common to sustainable landscapes were drought-resistant buffalo grass, rainwater harvesting systems, and raised boxes for gardens, as seen in the homes of Hope Ranch and Goleta.

The use of non-toxic building materials, spray foam insulation for heating efficiency, and solar panels are also popular in the homes. The Montecito rebuild had bamboo floors, using this rapidly growing and renewable source as a substitute for hardwood.

The Victorian rebuild in downtown Santa Barbara holds “one of the highest rankings in the country” for green building certification, according to one of the home’s builders, Bryan Henson of Allen Associates. “Everything is above and beyond what someone might do,” said Stephanie Christoff, the project manager.

Also benefitting Habitat were proceeds from cookie and t-shirt sales at the properties.

“The Tour of Green Homes was a big success,” Ramstrum said. “We’re thrilled with the turnout and the reactions from all the tour patrons.”


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