Green McMansions: (Oxy)moronic?

Go big, go green, go home?. (Photo: Paul Sableman [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

Green building tends to be defined by these adjectives: Efficient, compact, careful — and ostentatious, but only in innovation. Here are some words that could be used to describe the McMansion trend: Wasteful, rambling, impersonal — and ostentatious, in all senses of the word. What happens when “green” meets “McMansion?” When good intention meets conspicuous consumption? I’ll let you be the judge...

Although the concept of Green McMansions hit a fever pitch last spring and then literally went down in flames, they are still being built (and also rapidly being foreclosed) despite nationwide interest in smaller homes. In fact, a highly visible green building project, HGTV’s 2008 Green Home, may be considered a green McMansion by some. At 2,000 square feet, I think it’s about 1,000 square feet or so short of achieving this dubious distinction.

What do you think? Can a 3,000 square foot plus home with an inherently large footprint be dubbed as "green" because of ENERGY STAR appliances, low-VOC paints, recycled content carpeting, water-saving fixtures, and other features associated with green homes? Is it fair to criticize eco-minded folks who can afford more square footage? Do the words “green” and “McMansion” negate each other?

MNN's own Siel Ju has a great point in a post written for Low Impact Living last fall: If large homes are going to be built anyway, why not make them as environmentally friendly as possible?

To bring you up to speed on the issue, I’ve assembled a list of articles discussing this mega-sized phenomenon of debatable eco-friendliness. Following the links are two videos that show green McMansion building at two extremes. And following the videos is the comments section, where I'd love to hear your two cents on the issue. Yay or nay?

9 “Green: Monsters: Can a 15,000 SF McMansion be Green? [TreeHugger]

Green Giants [CNN]

Are Green McMansions Really Green [RiverWired]

Big Houses Are Not Green: America’s McMansion Problem [AlternNet]

McMansions Are Not Eco-friendly [The Seattle Times]

Supersized no more: Homebuilders say the ‘McMansion era has ended in the Twin Cities []