The average size of new U.S. homes has more than doubled over the past couple of generations, even as the number of people residing in them has shrunk by nearly a full person. The last glory days of the now-fading construction boom were the most insane of all: Outer rings of crenelated and turreted fortresses were sprouting near virtually every U.S. city, each dwelling looking as if it had been designed for an entry-level monarch."
The really rich, meanwhile, amused themselves by building above every ski hill and beach ranks of second homes that looked like nothing so much as modernist junior high schools. The environmental costs are myriad, of course—more materials used in construction (making cement for foundations alone is a prime contributor to global warming) and more energy used to heat and power all the resulting square footage. You can turn the thermostat and power a degree or two, but if the furnace is warming a 4,500 square feet, it's a token gesture."
—Bill McKibben in Sierra (July/August 2007)