What is "The Greenest Home in America?"

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Over at Green Building Advisor, Martin Holladay picks up a recurring TreeHugger theme, that monster homes are not green. He looks at 10 houses touted as "The Greenest" and finds that the average area is 4,186 square feet and the average cost is $2.3 million and concludes:

We all know the moral of this story: if your house is larger than the average American house, and if it costs much more than the average American house, there’s no way that it can be the greenest house in the world — or even the greenest house in Santa Monica. If it costs several million dollars and measures 3,500 square feet, then you're not in contention for this prize. Go away.

Martin spreads the blame for this around:

So, who's to blame for the parade of silly headlines proclaiming the latest "greenest home in the world"? Lots of people:


  • First, the people who devised the point systems used by LEED for Homes and most other green programs — point systems that allow owners of multi-million-dollar mansions to rack up huge numbers of green points.

  • Second, the architects and public relations consultants who can't resist the urge to make ridiculous claims.

  • Third, the credulous journalists who lack the common sense to evaluate the truth of the press releases they receive.

He makes the case that the greenest houses are tiny, off grid and indigenous, and that we should be learning from them.

Most of us have come to terms with disparities in wealth that allow a typical American or Canadian family to use more resources and energy than an entire village in Africa. That's understandable. However, it's time to throw in the towel when it comes to the Greenest Home Olympics. The contest was won long ago by a poor family in Brazil, Tanzania, or Laos. It's going to be really hard for an American architect to win a gold medal in this event.

Read it all at Green Building Advisor

Tags: Green Building | Housing Industry