Editors' Blog

Green Living editors dish on the latest trends and happenings in sustainability.

As we look to reduce our carbon footprint many of us turn to our home. We look to renovate our spaces starting with smaller projects, like starting a compost, and then head to larger projects, such as the installation of a rooftop solar panel. We have all seen and heard of those eco-homes that are unique and “cool” at first. You know those ones that are made out of old shipping containers or spheres that hang from trees. But what about the more traditionalist? Can we build a home that is eco-conscious without it being so “off the wall”? What about the traditionalists?

Though not your average home, a company in New York State, Brown Harris Stevens, is a leading real estate service, looking to sell this LEED and Energy Star certified luxury home. 50 Meeting House Lane proves that energy efficiency and comfort are not mutually exclusive. The property includes a heated 18-foot by 45-foot gunite pool (gunite is a type of dry concrete process sprayed using a hose), wine cellar, Bluestone patio with built in gas BBQ, outdoor shower, virtual golf option, multiple fireplaces, gym, wet bar, rear and front porches, pool pavilion, state-of-the-art eat in kitchen, and hand planed wide plank oak flooring. Other interesting features are the separate his and her bathrooms with radiant heated stone floors and walk-in closets and the beautiful corner breakfast banquette.

“What makes this house so unusual for a “green” home is its classic design combined with rich lifestyle components” stated Robert Schwagerl, who custom designed and built the home. “Frequently LEED certified homes are so modern and extreme in design that they’re either cold to live in, or off putting to the neighbors.”

I can anticipate the comment on how can any 5,000 foot home, no matter what environmental certifications it holds, not impact the environment, but what can we learn from this design? What can be adapted to the average home for the middle class buyer?

While this home is beautiful and a more traditional looking design, it seems to illustrate that there are two design extremes when it comes to “green” building and both are at the higher end of the cost scale. Though we are trying to limit urban sprawl, is there a future that has suburbs being built with LEED and Energy Star Certification? Is it even possible to do this on a modest budget?

If I were to build a home for my family, a single story home for a family of 4, to LEED and Energy Star Certification, what would the cost be? This is something I am going to work on and welcome your input to see if we can come up with a number, and if that number is actually affordable? Much of this will be based on layout of the home, which I will keep as simple as possible with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. What number do you  come up with?

I would love to hear from you, is their housing going up in your area that is leading the way to a future made up of green neighborhoods? Please share.