Mayer Dahan began his career working for a property management company, sweeping debris and unloading materials on job sites. By 26, he cemented himself as the CEO of the real estate development and renovation firm Prime Five Homes. Motivated by the desire to act with global awareness, Dahan focuses on building residences with less waste, more solar panels, and efficient energy usage throughout. His firm’s homes range from $2.6 million to $3.6 million, and 10 percent of the profits are donated to affiliated charities around the world. Prime Five Homes has now built more than 10 eco-mod homes across L.A. The newest spectacle, located at 849 North Curson Avenue in West Hollywood, is the first home Dahan designed himself.
Tucked into a grove of Brazilian pepper trees and manicured hedges, the 6,500-square-foot, open-plan home is listed for $3.5 million. Designed with five bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths, the estate is a stunning example of modern architecture infused with clean lines, a polished gray and white color scheme, and ceiling-height sliding-glass doors that open to multiple verandas and a glistening pool. The home’s eco-friendly traits are evident throughout—there’s a rainwater capture system, Crestron smart technology, a Tesla car charger, reclaimed wood and recycled tiles, and a solar-panel-clad rooftop, which captures SoCal’s sunny rays all season long.
Eco-friendly residential communities are on the rise, integrating advanced technology and better building practices to lessen their impact on the environment. Robb Report sat down with Dahan to talk about how residences can be executed with sustainability at the forefront.
Did you see a lack of sustainability in the real estate sector?
Honestly, people weren’t doing it mostly because there was no direct profit in it. The important thing for us has always been that when it comes time for us to build something, we’ve wanted to be the eco-friendliest, the most sustainable, and with the lowest carbon footprint. I saw that if we made something better than the traditional build, we could retain the best kind of clientele and sell our homes as we chose. I wonder if in 50 years, people will question the past generations and say, “What’s wrong with you? Are you so careless that you would not take free energy and you’d rather burn something from the ground and smoke us all out?” I realized that if I didn’t do something important today, then all my work will be null when I look back on my life.
You coined the term eco-mod. What are the key elements that define an eco-friendly, modern home?
When you merge modernism and eco-consciousness, the synergy between them is perfect, because for you to encapsulate all the requirements of being eco-friendly, you need to have cutting-edge technology. From a design aspect, solar panels and vents are all straight lines, so if you build a modern home, you can seamlessly bring these together. The secret is if you were going to build an eco-friendly home to perfection, you’d have to build it eco-modern. But to build this way, it takes educated, talented builders and architects who know how to make homes smarter and more efficient to save power. It involves six or seven different departments of industry; it can’t just be construction. Hopefully in the next 20 to 30 years, the industry will transform, and building with an environmental focus will be the standard.
What are the major elements that define your homes as eco-friendly?
The three biggest standpoints are to design a home with integrated smart technology for more efficient energy use, accommodate a large use of solar panels, and use specific construction methods that waste less through the entire process from demolition to architectural execution. Our smart-home systems are interconnected into a local voltage, which allows you to run the house off LED lighting present in the recessed lighting, chandeliers, and pendants. This can bring the usage down by 50 percent. A lot of times, if you have a large home, there’s no way you can have everything properly turned off when you leave, and the best way to do it is to make the house smart. All the client has to do is buy the home, pick whichever system they want, and they are living a more energy-efficient lifestyle.
Our eco-mod homes are built on a completely different standard of construction than traditional homes by using high-grade insulation, which requires less energy to heat and cool. They’re all open floor plans with lots of windows and natural lighting, bringing the efficiency rating way up and minimizing the need for lighting; people don’t have to turn on the lights till 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock at night. Our homes are built with a drop roof, which allows for as many solar panels that can fit to seamlessly be tucked into the top of the home. The panels help homeowners get very close to getting all their power paid for. The landscaping is done with drought-resistant plants, there is a rainwater-capture system, and low-flow toilets and faucets.
For my clients and the houses that we build, we have the luxury to be more conscious and to stop ruining the air and the earth.
How do you handle existing properties on the land you are set to build upon?
Demolition is a careful process for us. To properly conserve the earth, you can’t just break a home into a big pile, put it into a bunch of dumpsters, and ship it to the dump. So, starting many years ago, we took our homes apart piece by piece, packing them into different piles to be effectively recycled. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of those materials can be recycled, so it is vital that we take these steps. One of the biggest wasting points in development is what you did with the land before you even started development. We also replace any uprooted trees with environmentally sustainable trees on the property, restoring nature as close to possible as how we found it.
How do you utilize recycled materials in the homes?
You pay more upfront for a sustainable lifestyle. Fortunately, people love using reclaimed materials; they fawn over them. What we often do is balance beautiful finished materials with as much refurbished ones that we can, such as recycled tiles and reclaimed wood. Those materials, they sort of feed the whole industry by telling companies that products should be more thoughtfully sourced. It’s important that more developers go out and buy recycled materials so the industry responds with the proper funding to continue this demand and reshape consumption.
Philanthropy in business is very important to you. What have you and the company done to give back to the community?
I have this profound desire to impact in a more direct way. Through our charity, Dream Builders, I’ve had the opportunity to do large-scale galas with Children’s Hospital L.A., and we have worked with almost every single nongovernmental organization in California. We’ve done human-trafficking stings with LAPD and the FBI and have supported the construction of single-family homes in other countries. We take a portion of our net profits and put them into Dream Builders so it can directly fund people, organizations, and government entities that we think need our help. A lot of people whom I’ve built the houses for gravitate toward us because of these endeavors, which reinforces us to keep doing this work.