Sustainability was always part of Greg Roth’s personal ethos, but it didn’t become the central focus of his professional life until Stephen Pallrand invited him to design the interiors of a home alongside Pallrand’s wife, artist Rachel Mayeri, and the talented architects at CarbonShack. The challenge was to design a home with zero carbon footprint. The project was Casa Zero and would become the first CarbonShack case study house in Los Angeles.
Inside and outside CarbonShack HQ
CarbonShack’s designs exist in a liminal space between preserving history and building the future. Something about it is reminiscent of Disneyland, in the best way possible, and Greg Roth has the vision of a Disney imagineer, infusing whimsy and a sense of play in every project. He studied architecture and practiced interior design for 25 years prior to joining CarbonShack. In addition to his robust interior design background and passion for sustainability, he brings to CarbonShack a unique understanding about branding from his experience running a design-themed bakery with his husband, where they would take companies’ logos and design bespoke graphic design cookies for brands.
Green materials and sourcing locally
Behind CarbonShack HQ is a lot full of wood, remnants of past projects, ready to be creatively integrated into the next one. In their latest project, they are planning to take the falling Aleppo pine from their client’s front yard and use the wood to fabricate their kitchen table. “It doesn’t get more locally-sourced than that.” Roth says, adding that one of the best things for individuals to prioritize when it comes to living more sustainably is buying local. He’s not orthodox in his approach to sustainability though. It’s all about trade-offs because without them, he jokes, “you wouldn’t have a house.”
A great example of weighing trade-offs is how CarbonShack approaches the production of their textile line. Their fabrics are made of sustainable hemp fibers with versatility in application and a great hand. But, right now, most of the hemp isn’t being milled in the US. They have to source it abroad. Hopefully, their experiments with hemp will help spread the sustainable gospel and encourage more to be produced in the US, cutting back on their carbon footprint even more.
CarbonShack furniture, fabric, lighting, and tile
In conversations with members of the green building community, it’s usually a matter of minutes before someone references CarbonShack. Their influence on fellow sustainably-focused designers and manufacturers is palpable and with the sustainability movement transitioning from fringe into the American mainstream, they’re well on their way to becoming a household name. Their new product lines are a step in that direction.
On Sustainability and scalability
Many sustainable solutions become problems again once you start to scale. For this reason, many producers of green products keep their operations smaller. So how do you grow a movement when growth and expansion seem directly at odds with the movement itself, adding to the problem the movement hopes to solve? Where do we go from here? We know that problems with financing green projects are usually the result of introducing sustainability too late in the process and that also usually results in more waste from construction and mistakes. One small step towards alleviating these issues is using CarbonShack’s open source carbon calculator to calculate your own home’s carbon footprint. CarbonShack sees themselves as educators to cut back on the barriers between consumers and sustainable living. In their next phase, they see themselves educating and consulting with designers and manufacturers, not just their clients, on sustainable approaches to design and manufacturing. “The world is headed that way whether you are or not,” Roth says, “CarbonShack wants to help you get there.”