Shon Hiatt walks the sustainability walk.
From the backyard of the 1,430-square-foot Manhattan Beach home Hiatt shares with his wife and seven children ages 3-17, an energized Hiatt details the various steps he’s taken to create a more sustainable home.
He points to LED lightbulbs and 1.5-gallon showerheads, a rain-collecting water barrel he uses to water rose and blueberry bushes, a graywater system that transforms water from showers and baths into liquid nourishment for the property’s fruit trees and a front yard in which Hiatt himself replaced grass with bark.
Inspired by his upbringing on an Idaho farm where “reduce, reuse, recycle” was engrained in daily life, a faith-fueled drive to be a responsible steward of the Earth and an earnest interest in self-reliance, Hiatt sees a more sustainable home as a personal mission.
“A commitment to sustainability is deep within me and directs many of my actions,” said Hiatt, an associate professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business. “And it doesn’t hurt that many of these choices save me bit of money, too.”
Free resources for a green home
Whether one rents or owns, some eco-conscious solutions remain accessible to anyone willing to blend intentionality, awareness and pinches of sacrifice to support the planet.
On the West Coast in particular, water earns substantial attention — and for good reason. Much of California faces severe drought conditions, and federal authorities have issued troubling outlooks for the Colorado River, a main source of fresh drinking water for Californians.
To spur water conservation, California Water Service (Cal Water), the state’s largest water utility, provides single-family residential customers free kits packed with water-saving tools, such as high-efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators and leak-detection dye tablets. Those solutions, combined with mindful daily changes like turning off water while tooth brushing, can help California residents protect a precious, though dwindling, natural resource.
While Kelly Sanders, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, said California building codes requiring items like low-flow showers and toilets have bolstered water conservation indoors, immense potential exists to reduce outdoor water use. Watering the lawn at night, for instance, reduces evaporation, while Cal Water’s Smart Landscape Tune-Up Program helps homeowners make irrigation system efficiency improvements at no charge.
On the energy front, Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Provost Professor of Public Policy at the USC Price School of Public Policy and the Department of Psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said residents bickering about who left the kitchen lights on should instead direct their attention to a bigger energy-sucking culprit: home heating and air conditioning.