McMansion Overload & the Need for Sustainable Spaces

November 12, 2008

I was just reading an article about how when the dust settles in the houseing market that new homes will NOT be of the McMansion style. You can catch the article here.

One of the big reasons for this is their large energy cost. Another reason, as stated here, is that they take up so much land. Why this is bad? Well, the larger a residential home is the more resources it is taking to build it: no matter how “Green” it is or isn’t. Also, the land that it is taking up could be used for more sustainable gardening, or natural plants to help out with the displaced wildlife.

However, there is still a desire, if not a need for more space. I think most people have two or three options; if you own a McMansion OR you are thinking of purchasing one, do whatever you can to make it more energy efficient.

Most of these homes have numerous gables on them, which can be fitted for solar panels. Here is a link to a solar panel retailer, where you can learn more about solar panels. Another way of cutting energy cost is to create “zones” in the house for heating and cooling. This is a popular product that was shown to me when I worked at a large Design/Build firm here in Portland, most contractors can get you hooked up with a good system. This will help keep you from heating rooms with 14′ ceilings when you are never in them. The last, but best thing to do, is make sure you have no heating leaks in the house, see link, and to make sure your house is well “winterized.” This goes for any home.

If you don’t want the hassle of owning one of these giants, but still need more space, why not add an addition to your home. I think this is the most sustainable way of increasing living space–other then doing nothing. Almost all homes can have more space added to them, and it can be done in a sustainable way. It is also a good excuse to update your heating system, replace old windows, and check the insulation.

My only concern when it comes to additions is that when it is all done and said, it does not look like an addition. If the new section of the housing looks completely different from the original house, then likely it will get redone down the road, and that is NOT sustainable design. So please! work with a designer or architect to design an addition that fits the existing property.

The third and final option I have for you: call a designer to work with what you have. Get organized, remodel the basement or attic, and/or rearrange how you “flow” through the house. By “flow” I mean, maybe you should consider knocking out a few walls to create bigger spaces, or a master suite. All depends on what you need the extra space for.

If you have more questions, please comment, or contact us at Green & Milligan Design


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