Image credit: Elana Centor, used under Creative Commons license.
Lloyd asked the other day whether we should show more big green houses on TreeHugger. After all, while we may like to talk about living simply as an alternative American Dream and tiny homes being the next big thing, it seems likely that many folks—particularly in America—will continue to see increased square footage as an indicator of quality of life. In fact, say some, the much hyped recession-driven shift to smaller houses may not be happening at all. Listening to NPR's Marketplace Money this weekend, I was struck by a report that claimed that the era of McMansions is by no means over. While increased energy costs have, to a degree, boosted awareness of, and interest in, energy efficiency, there is apparently little evidence to suggest that this has translated into a desire for smaller homes—which ultimately would be the biggest step toward energy efficient housing we could take. Steven East, an analyst for Ticonderoga Securities, put it in pretty stark terms:
"There has been a lot of talk in the press that the McMansion is dead and consumers are now permanently wanting smaller homes, etc. There's nothing in our research that indicates that's the truth."
Graham Hill may be happy in his teeny-tiny LifeEdited apartment, but I guess this is just one more reminder that activism beats prophecy, and wishful thinking is not a strategy. If we TreeHuggers want to encourage people to live in smaller houses, we need to find ways to make it an attractive and compelling proposition. Not hope that the recession or high energy prices do the job for us.