Saturday, July 05, 2008

The New Trophy Home, Small and Ecological

For the high-profile crowd that turned out to celebrate a new home in Venice, Calif., the attraction wasn’t just the company and the architectural detail. The house boasted the builders’ equivalent of a three-star Michelin rating: a LEED platinum certificate.

The actors John Cusack and Pierce Brosnan, with his wife, Keely Shaye Smith, a journalist, came last fall to see a house that the builders promised would “emit no harmful gases into the atmosphere,” “produce its own energy” and incorporate recycled materials, from concrete to countertops.

The four-bedroom house was for sale, with a $2.8 million asking price. Its rating was built into that price. LEED — an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the hot designer label, and platinum is the badge of honor — the top classification given by the U.S. Green Building Council. “There’s kind of a green pride, like driving a Prius,” said Brenden McEneaney, a green building adviser to the city of Santa Monica, adding, “It’s spreading all over the place.”

Today, dinner-party bragging rights are likely to include: “Let me tell you about my tankless hot water heater.” Or “what’s the R value of your insulation?”
What defines success and status in society are mailable and one of environmentalism's best weapons is if it can redefine them in more environmentally friendly ways. This article is a good example of what can be done.

Status changes from having a McMansion to having a Platinum LEED house, from maximizing the home's square footage to minimizing the home's ecological footprint. Extra money is spent to make the house more environmentally friendly and more energy efficient rather than to make it larger and more energy intensive.

The more that society buys into this definition of status, the better it will be for the environment.

via NY Times

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