Deciding the size of your home is one of the most important green decisions you'll make. Lifestyle, neighborhood, budget, lot size, neighborhood requirements, social status and resale can all play a role in that decision. And once it’s made, the size of the house will partly determine ownership costs: utility bills, cost of upkeep and property taxes. It’s not a decision that can be easily reconsidered, and has long term consequences.
Regardless of what size is the right size for you (and I say this because there are instances where a large house is appropriate) there’s also the environmental footprint to consider. It’s easy to understand how a small house can have a smaller environmental footprint, but it’s also possible for a large house to have an even smaller footprint.
After a week long summer vacation on the beach, along with reading some American history, I began to wonder about why we make choices for bigger. . . For the past 500 years, starting with Columbus, our American culture has been born out of the idea of infinite resources. We are believers in the great frontier, and we continue to look for it. These days we channel that belief into technology, which is good, but also it fosters a culture of consumerism. On the most positive side, the idea of a limitless future fuels innovation. But I also wonder about why we choose to live and build as if our resources are limitless. The increasing size of our homes is one example.
Home size is the first step in establishing the scope of a project. We have a spreadsheet tool in our office to help clients understand how to develop and understand the overall size of the project – it’s fun to use because the spreadsheet does all the math for you, and you can start to dream about the spaces you might want. Start by listing all the rooms, and then determine the sizes. You can use your existing room sizes as a guideline. Or a designer/architect can help determine the ideal room sizes for your new project. Add 20% for halls, wall thickness, and miscellaneous and you’ll have a square foot number you can start working with.
Regardless of what size home is right for you; don’t forget to consider its environmental footprint. It’s about exploring the new frontier of building technology, from high performance products to renewable energy; it’s possible to have luxury and sustainability.
Next time – Bigger or smaller, understanding more about why and how. . .
Posted: 7/28/2011 9:38:37 AM by
Mary Kestner | with 0 comments