Big-Ass Green is OK

August 12, 2010

This Colorado home is 8,000 square feet in size, but produces much of its own energy. Is it really "green"?

Can a large home, say of 8,000 square feet or so, really be green and energy-efficient?

I’ve asked this question before—and the environmental types say, “Are you kidding? A home that size can’t possibly be green!”

The environmentalists have a point, because if you really commit to being energy-efficient and “green,” your home should have a minimal footprint, both in its energy use and the amount of space it takes up. Green building advocates generally concur. The U.S. Green Building Council, which operates the popular LEED for Homes (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, penalizes homes for their size, making it harder for larger homes to attain higher LEED certifications. The penalties make sense, because even if an 8,000-square-foot home produces all its own energy, the resources that have been used in its construction is much greater than a home half its size, and greater still of homes smaller than that.

In my role as an editor with Electronic House, I have regularly lamented that the “green” high-tech homes we consider for publication are typically of the large variety. And they’re typically quite expensive. Boy, would I like to see a 3,000-square-foot home with solar panels that produce all the home’s energy and a really cool energy monitoring and energy management system that’s tied to a home control and lighting control system.

But that isn’t likely to happen. Why? Because we’re at those first, tentative steps in a high-tech energy-efficient home market. Energy monitors and energy management systems tied to home automation and home control is a new thing. And new technologies typically spend their infancy as expensive add-ons to luxury residences.

And that’s OK, because big-ass homes can show how being “green” and energy-efficient doesn’t require sacrificing one’s lifestyle. You can still have the big-screen TV and the home theater and the whole-house audio/video system and all the latest and greatest gizmos and still be energy-efficient and green—or at least greener. Big-ass green homes also draw attention and sometimes get published in magazines. This, of course, inspires others to want some of the same.

Do I still wish to see smaller, high-tech green homes? Absolutely, for the primary reason of showing the owners of smaller homes what is possible. And basic energy management systems are possible in smaller, less expensive homes. But I can live with the Big-Ass Green. At least for a little while longer.


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One Response to Big-Ass Green is OK

  1. […] House and GreenTech Advocates are really luxury homes that are built green. Some of them are downright huge.Sure, the rich have the money to afford green mansions, which most of us can’t think of building. […]

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