Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big Houses Are Not Green

Everything is so BIG in America. This was my first impression since my first day in the USA – big highways, big cars, big stores and big houses. “The Bigger The Better”.

The recent mansion boom produced millions of energy-wasting homes with thousands of square feet that Americans don't need -- not the behavior of a society that's thinking about a sustainable future.Smaller families are living in bigger houses. In the America of 1950, single-family dwellings were built with an average of 290 square feet of living space per resident; in 2003, a family moving into a typical new house had almost 900 square feet per person in which to ramble around. In the size of our dwellings, North Americans are world champions.

Nowadays the average American homes are shrinking.

Thank you, Recession for the change in thinking!

USA Today reports that Americans are building smaller homes: ‘Last year, for the first time in at least 10 years, the average square footage of single-family homes under construction fell dramatically, from 2,629 in the second quarter to 2,343 sf in the fourth quarter, Census data show. The new motto is: Living well with less.’

Is 2,343 sf less? I think of anything over 2000 square feet is excessive for two to three residents. American homes, on average, are nearly twice as large as those in many European countries, including Britain, France and Germany.

For example, the average total floor area in Japan is 94.85 square meters (1,021.0 sq ft). The average total floor area in France is 113 square meters (1, 216 sq ft), Ireland 88 square meters ( 947 sq ft) and UK 76 square meters ( 818 sq ft)

Smaller is greener.

One of the best ways to reduce a house’s energy consumption is to decrease its size.Large homes consume more resources than small ones. They use more concrete, more wood, more carpet, more drywall, and more paint. They consume more land, generate more construction debris, cause more pollution, and use more energy during the building process.The size of a home has a greater impact on energy and resource use than any other factor, including the efficiency of the home's equipment, the R-factor of insulation, and the type of windows used.A small house built to only moderate energy performance standards uses substantially less energy for heating and cooling than a large house built to very high energy performance standards. And more than anything else, a large home will always require more energy and resources to heat, cool, clean, maintain, and operate than a small home.

Think Big, Live Small, Live Simple!

1 comment:

  1. Great post!
    When we gonna learn to live small and think big? Nobody can impose that on anybody but the Nature with its limited resources that will not be able to support our way of life as we know it.

    So fasten your seat belts...