April 12, 2010

Green + Mansion? ~ Claire Flannery

When it comes to New Home (Mansion) Construction, what Does “Eco” Really Mean?

Is a “green” house truly eco-responsible if it it big enough to fit 100 refugees, costs umpteen thousands of dollars? We think it might be—if it is truly zero-impact.

Waylon told me about this gigantic house that was recently built in Boulder.

The house is Dwell-magazine-worthy, stunning, and mindfully-built. The home was constructed with “innovative renewable energy systems and materials crafted to last centuries,” according to the good folks at Arch 11. I’m not sure what century-long materials they are talking about, but the Syncline House is indeed LEEDS gold certified, equipped with a rooftop garden and solar panels.

It’s designed to be completely self-sustainable.

The question I have is, can a house be considered “eco” if it is thousands upon thousands of square feet and costs millions of dollars?  Yes, the Syncline House, is sustainable and zero-waste, but what about the poor animals that might have nested underneath that house? What about the sourcing and transport of materials? Couldn’t the money have been better spent on building 10 or 100 compact eco condominiums that would house 10 or 100x as many people?

What does “eco” truly entail?

Description of the Syncline House, via Arch 11:

Situated at the fold between the Rocky Mountain foothills and the Great Plains, the house mediates horizons and peaks, city and alpine meadows. Conceived as a frame for viewing the landscape, arch 11 meticulously modeled the residence within the site to insure that planes of glass capture ridgetop views while respecting the city’s height restrictions. Built with innovative renewable energy systems and materials crafted to last centuries, the house is a model of cutting-edge sustainable design and attains a LEED gold certification. Roof gardens allow the land to literally envelope the house, and expansive, retracting glass walls provide full views of the Flatirons to the west while connecting interiors with outdoor rooms. Executed with uncompromising detail, surfaces meet with quiet precision creating a serene background for the landscape and mountains beyond.


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