Monday, April 07, 2008

Sound Sleep in a Castle.....

Sunday's New York Times had an outlandish story about 7000 square feet of green goodness for a LEEDs certified home. LEED is a certification given by the U.S. Green Building Council that gives points for different things in a home to make it more Green, and you can reach different levels. Sort of a good housekeeping seal of green approval. The article asks the question can such a monstrous house even meet the qualifications despite how many CFLs you have in the place. A simple way to get points for LEED certification is through inexpensive low-flow showerheads, but that would be too pedestrian:

The typical low-flow shower head, “a cheap credit” used by affordable-housing developers seeking certification, is not an appealing option to upper-end home builders, said Maureen Mahle, program manager for Steven Winter Associates Inc., a Norwalk, Conn., design firm that consults on residential and commercial LEED applications. They are more likely to install pricey high-tech devices that improve quality of life and enhance the project’s appeal.

People are not looking to save the environment but it really has transferred it to the realm of "I'm more green than you are." But don't make me suffer.

Aside from its price tag, this is painless conservationism, a point emphasized in the developer’s promotional materials: “Imagine having it all, while preserving the environment.”

What no one is focusing is the impact of building such a large home away from everything is. And it has to be away to get that much space, the infrastructure to connect to the grid, and the car necessary to function. Why is big considered necessary, when one thinks about it, people love cozy small places that have character. For instance, Sarah Susanka's The Not So Big House explains how to use space more effectively to greater life satisfaction. More is not always better, and less generally means less impact even with conventional materials.

LEED needs to take a stand and call bogus and standardize on some metric per intended resident of a home. If think your sleeping sound in a faux green castle, then you're deluding yourself.


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