Los Angeles and sustainability. Try speaking these words without cracking an ironic smile. More known for its smog than its environmental initiatives, L.A. is notoriously polluted and not very “green.” State of the Air ranks L.A. as number one for having the most polluted ozone, while NYC is not even in the top ten polluted cities. Negative facts aside, Los Angeles is home to a bevy of forward-thinking individuals who could help pave the road to greener practices. Mayer Dahan, entrepreneur, real estate developer and philanthropist, is one of those individuals. Dahan has recently made waves in the real estate industry with his sustainable business model and worldly mindset. From his real estate development companies Prime Five Homes and Dahan Properties to his “charity of charities,” The Dream Builders Project, Dahan is, well, a force of nature.
What or who has played the biggest role in the development of your unique approach to eco-housing?After many years of building houses for many different kinds of customers, I became really disenfranchised with how unoriginal the designs were becoming. The inspiration comes from seeing people who are only working for the profit and had no vision or dream for the future. I was inspired to do things differently to try and make a change not just to help the environment but to help my business. I see eco-friendly as the most viable option for the future.
You have built a number of beautiful homes on Laurel Avenue in West Hollywood. What inspired you to develop in this area? I identified Laurel as one of the most unique set and beautiful blocks that runs through West Hollywood. My business plan goes off the premise of trying to change the outlook of the neighbor into something more modern and sleek. I wanted to give people an opportunity to view it on a single street so I picked Laurel Avenue as my center point and from there, I will build outward.
Would you say your properties are more sustainable than other eco-homes on the market? How so? Yes, I would call them by far the most sustainable on the market because just instead of just being LEED certified, we made efforts to become eco-friendly in all aspects of our designs. A few examples of what we use are solar panel systems, water capture system, drought resistant landscaping, overwhelming amount of natural lighting, low voltage system, and water conserving fixtures and toilets.
Remaining cutting edge is key to exceling in any market, but particularly in real estate. What is your secret to staying ahead of the competition? I am always evolving and adding eco-friendly pieces to the model. Continually, I try to extend my reach in the community through non-profit and for profit endeavors. By constantly learning and adding new members to the team, we are always growing and expanding. We strive to be a best and stay current in the technology and the new evolving science.
How does the notion of sustainability cross into your personal life? Outside of building homes to lead the eco-friendly way, I aim at having a very responsible outlook on my personal life and the duty I have to the community. This was the reason I created Dream Builders Project and therefore be able to support the community and other charities. Hopefully it will evolve into something that can one day make a splash in eco-friendly and sustainable living.
You run a comprehensive charity for charities, The Dream Builders Project. What charity have you learned the most from? Audrey Hepburn’s Care Center at the Children’s Hospital LA has taught me how to combine the assets of a for-profit success and merge it into a nonprofit spectrum. From them, I learned how a huge corporation can manage their nonprofits successfully to make a real difference. I applied this knowledge with Dahan Properties and Prime Five Homes to sustain and grow Dream Builders Project in order to have the largest impact on the community.
Habitat for Humanity is one of the charities The Dream Builders Project works with. Have you considered partnering with them to build sustainable homes in needy areas? From the beginning of prime five homes and the creation of a dream builder’s project, we have been attempting to move closer and closer to a sustainable eco-friendly model that can be affordable for all people. Technically speaking are not there yet, as technology and society moves forward at a lightning quick pace, we know that we will achieve this goal one day very soon. What stops us from being able to create such eco-friendly sustainable models today is the lack of affordable and low-cost eco-friendly goods such as solar panels, recycled materials, and water capture system. This along with eco-friendly of the products and producers needs more time in order to be able to effect the general public and not only high level consumers with expendable finances
What words of wisdom can you leave for someone interested in entrepreneurship? Any great entrepreneur should understand that the route is going to be difficult and even when times are extremely hard and outlook is grim, they should stay the course and not allow anyone or anything to change their dream. I try and protect their dream and foster more imagination and less critical thinking by bringing out the dreamer in them.
Although a “sustainable Los Angeles” may still strike most as paradoxical, Dahan is setting the stage for a greener L.A. Jessica Ross, spokesperson for Prime Five Homes, asserts that, “Prime Five Homes sets the stage for developers and investors to see the importance of building eco-friendly homes. Thinking of new ways to reduce our impact on the environment by conserving water, reducing waste and energy usage is so important. Especially for L.A.”