9 "Green" Monsters: Can a 15,000 SF Mcmansion be Green?

Al Gore Gets A Solar Roof

We would be remiss if we didn't include Al Gore's house in this roundup. He has done everything one can do, from wrapping it in solar panels to installing a ground source heat pump. He even got LEED Gold certification. He also has four kids and works from home. But it is still 10,000 Square feet and if we are questioning big green houses its gotta be here....Al Gore Gets A Solar Roof and Al Gore Gets Gold On Tennessee Digs

Big Green House at International Builders Show

The US department of Energy sponsored this house at the International Builders show. They have the motto: "Bringing you a prosperous future where energy is clean, abundant, reliable and affordable." They are off to a poor start with this- 4309 square feet of air conditioned house out of concrete and stryrofoam is hardly a model of energy efficiency, even if it is covered with photovoltaics and sod. More in TreeHugger on the international builders showhouse.

Can a Big House in the Country Be Green?

Over at Inhabitat, they are showing the loveliest green house, the Monier House by Ackert Architecture, with rammed earth walls, wind turbines, solar hot water, rain water collection, everything it needs to be "a demonstration project to show how alternative energy and passive systems could be integrated to create a self sufficient home."

But I think the time for demonstrations is past; we need affordable green design, new construction and rehabilitation for everyone, and the methods, materials and technologies will result in houses that are a lot smaller, cheaper and closer together. I hope that we will show more of the latter and fewer of the former. More in TreeHugger on how even lovely houses might not be green anymore.

What is Green and What is Ethical?

The Wall Street Journal thought that Arkin Tilt's Eastern Sierra Residence was green. It seems to be enough to take government subsidies to cover a house in solar panels these days. I wanted to do a series of posts on what I called the "Ethical Home", vs the Green Home, but never got past this, the introduction. I was much impressed with Leo Hickman's series in the Guardian newspaper, published in his book A Good Life, about the concept of Ethical Living:

Ethical means above all taking personal responsibility. This in turn means considering the "sustainability" of everything you do- making sure that your actions do not have a negative influence on you or more importantly the wider world. As more and more people around the world, rightly or wrongly, aspire to and obtain western lifestyles, the pressure on natural resources will become even more intense. Therefore, a major tenet of ethical living is to attempt, wherever possible, to reduce one's own demand for resources... Simply, it is a call to consume a fairer and more proportionate slice of the pie. "

I have put it more prosaically:

We just use too much of everything- too much space, too much land, too much food, too much fuel, too much money, and that the key to sustainability is to simply use less. And, the key to happily using less is to design things better."

Somewhere in there is the definition of a green house.

Tags: Architecture


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