Gallery: Gimme Shelter Project: Creating a Green Home on Shelter Island


Leslie Hoffman — the President and Executive Director of Earth Pledge — has a background in green design. When she decided that her little house in Shelter Island, New York needed a renovation, she — along with her talented team led by architect Steve Hoffman — decided to go all out with the green features. In an effort to educate the community at large about green building she’s turned her personal renovation into the very public Gimme Shelter Project. From the ground up her super-eco state of the art home provides real life insight into what it takes to remake an old house into a green beauty.

At Earth Pledge Hoffman has proven to be one of the leading minds in the green world. In her tenure as green guru she’s pushed the cause for sustainable materials and architecture for over 15 years. It’s only fitting that she’d use her own home as a learning tool for the masses. Hoffman sees the Gimme Shelter Project as, “a living laboratory for green and sustainable lifestyle decisions.” She’s asked the community to get involved via her blog in the decision making and has brought together a talented team of green people to assist in the construction.

Hoffman and her team have chosen to include a great mix of high-tech and low-tech green building techniques, and she explains them all on the Gimme Shelter website. “I’m very committed to using [the house] to educate people about sustainable, low-impact living,” she told Inhabitat, “I see the education element living on well-beyond the completion of construction.”

The home features sustainable and reclaimed materials, passive solar, a rainwater collection system, a green roof, solar panels and utilizes the ocean breeze to help cool the home in the summer. Featuring a beach-front location and a south-facing roof, the home is ideally placed to make the most effective use of the surrounding environment. To top it all off, Hoffman plans to plant an extensive organic garden this summer with the help of community members.

Hoffman’s goal with the project is to emphasize the importance of community as the next step in sustainability. “By creating a community around our projects – whether it is building a house, getting a job or raising a child – we focus on the human interactions that ultimately sustain us. My interest is to have the richness of the interpersonal experience rather than collecting LEED points.” If you live in the New York area stay tuned, this summer the Gimme Shelter Project will be having a whole host of community events focused around the new green home on Shelter Island.

+ Gimme Shelter Project


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  1. Leslie Hoffman March 30, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Nice job Inhabitat. Steve is correct that I am not the architect, nor the contractor of Gimme Shelter. Needless to say, I have been a central figure in the project, and I have enjoyed being back in the design/build process.

    To be clear – I got my degree in Architecture and Design and am not licensed as an architect. I was a green builder professionally from 1978-1990. Since 1994, when I joined Earth Pledge as executive director, I have done a number of significant green building projects, but always either for the foundation or myself.

    Kelly Adams did the Photoshop work, as well as some additional graphic design work for the project.

  2. Steve Hoffman March 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for covering this project, and for all you do to promote sustainable design. Knowing this project intimately, I would like to make a few corrections and additions to the information above.

    Though Leslie Hoffman is an important and passionate proponent of sustainable architecture and building, she is not a professionally trained architect, nor has she been a builder for several decades. I am pointing this out because your opening line implies that she is acting in the capacity of architect and builder on this project, which she is not. As you say, she has” brought together a talented team”, but the various professionals who have contributed their talents and skills to the project have done much more than “assist” her.

    I have worked with Leslie to design this house over the last three years. My name is Steve Hoffman (no relation), and I work at Van Campen Architects in New York. MACV is the contractor. Susan Serra is designing the kitchen.

    Leslie’s previous experience as a builder and her knowledge of green building systems and technologies has been the basis for an active and positive collaboration, but she should not be credited, either implicitly or explicitly, with the design of this house.

    All of the renderings and diagrams on this blog were created by me, and detailed in Photoshop by an intern that volunteered at Earth Pledge last summer, named Kelley Roy.

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