At Home With Atlanta's Matt Liotta

The hydroponic farmer welcomes us into his LEED certified Ansley Park and tells us why he loves being green.

Photo by Holly Aguirre According to Atlanta's Dencity Architects, the two-story corner glazing accentuates the view from the living room to the park across the street.

Atlantans Matt Liotta and his wife Jennifer find it easy being green. Not only does Liotta run one of the country’s most successful environmentally friendly farms, PodPonics, but also his Ansley Park home is LEED certified. Keeping their ideals and lifestyle in mind, there was simply no other choice but to build a green and sustainable home for the couple and their two children Meredith (5) and Elliott (2). 

With this in mind, the couple solicited the services of Cablik Enterprises and Bryan Russell of Dencity who were there planning from the very beginning to the very last nail. When it came to interior design concepts, Michael Habachy helped choose interior finishes using post-industrial or post-consumer materials.

Photo by Holly Aguirre Just opposite the Liotta's home is one of the small parks that dot the Ansley Park neighborhood.  

Building an energy-efficient home affected all of the team’s decisions starting with the design. To achieve LEED eligibility, the house was positioned along an east-west axis so that the longer side of the home would face south. Consequently, the southern facade of the exterior has solar shade and small transom windows minimizing the exposure to the sun, and thus reducing heating and cooling costs. A large portion of the roof faces south for the utilization of solar panels.

The Liottas also wanted to minimize wasted space. The solution was to eliminate redundant hallways, closets and rooms, and even the garage is located under the house. The large interior courtyard adds nearly 1,000 square feet of living space, no climate control required. The use of drought resistant landscaping and a rainwater collection system reduce the City of Atlanta water bill. 

Photo by Holly Aguirre The doors facing the courtyard are completely retractable; the induction cooktop is about 45% more efficient than traditional gas ranges.

Habachy also chose appliances and fixtures that conserve water.  Kitchen designer Matthew Rao worked with the Liottas to create a smaller kitchen using fewer materials without sacrificing functionality or aesthetic appeal. We especially like the induction cooktop that is about 45% more efficient than traditional gas ranges. Habachy also designed the kitchen table and the living room furniture.

HGTV’s FrontDoor paid the Liottas a visit and asked Mr. Liotta what he loves about calling the Ansley Park residence home. 

Q: What do you love about your home? 

A: I love all the glass that gives me the feeling of being part of the nature that surrounds us even though I am inside. The tech guy inside me loves that everything in the house is connected and controllable whether from a remote or on my iPhone wherever I am.

Photo by Holly Aguirre Located at the furthest end of the horseshoe-shaped courtyard and opposite the wet bar is a private sitting area and one of our favorite features. 

Q: Tell us about the decision to have slightly smaller bedrooms and baths and large, open common spaces.

A: Family is very important to us. I like to think of bedrooms as the place that you sleep; not the place you live. All the common space gives us a lot of family time and when we have guests, facilitates social interaction. Some houses actually help to separate people. We wanted ours to bring people together.

Q: Why was it important to build a LEED certified house? 

A: Like many people, Jennifer and I like the idea of being environmental. Further, we appreciate being fiscally responsible. In our mind, the word sustainable encapsulates the intersection of environmental and fiscally responsible. We think the LEED rating system is a good way to measure being sustainable. Therefore, it provided us a convenient way to ensure that we built a sustainable house without having to fully understand all the particulars of construction and engineering. A side benefit was the inspections associated with LEED that ensured compliance by the contractors.

Photo by Holly Aguirre This is the view from the living room looking towards the front door. 

Q: Were there any surprises, hurdles, headaches that you encountered? 

A: The City of Atlanta building department provided most of the headaches and surprises. In some cases, the inspectors actively worked against some of things we wanted to do to be sustainable. There were of course lots of little things that came up like I would expect any custom home project would face. I might add that if we were building the exact same home now it would actually be easier and cheaper. Building a LEED/sustainable home is much more well-understood now and there are significantly more products and contractors available that support LEED.

Q: Why Ansley Park? 

A: Jennifer and I met when we lived in San Francisco. We love city life and we hate commutes. As such, we thought Midtown would be the best place to live in Atlanta. However, since we anticipated children we wanted a place that would support our future family. Ansley is unique in many ways. We liked that it was in Midtown directly connected to the density of the city, but was still a single-family home neighborhood. We also like that is was in walking distance to Piedmont Park and the Botanical Gardens. Even better were the five parks that are part of Ansley Park. Later we learned how diverse the neighborhood is, which we appreciate very much.

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