Our Net-Zero Home in Long Beach, California

Living the Change We Want to See in the World

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    Big Houses

    Yes, Nina and I are living the "American Dream." We worked hard for many years, had a family, saved our money, built our dream house, and retired comfortably. What is the problem? The problem is what  American's been conditioned to desire versus what we should do to help ensure the longevity of our civilization and planet.

    Ideally we wanted our Green Dream Home to be a smaller than its final configuration. We hoped for 1,800 to 2,000 square feet of living space and ended up with 2,225 square feet. While we didn't want a tiny house, we also didn't want a McMansion. From Wikipedia:

    McMansion may either refer to oversized and cheaply built houses developed at once in a subdivision, or refer to a dwelling that replaces a smaller house, in a neighborhood of smaller houses, which seems far too large for its lot...

    I don't believe our Green Dream Home fits either aspect of a McMansion but, unfortunately, I regularly see people building McMansions all over Sothern California and around the world. Besides the detriments described in the Wikipedia article, from an environmental perspective, McMansions use too many resources in construction and in living.

    Yes, large families might need large homes to live comfortably, but from Statista, the U.S. Census Bureau determined the average family size is 3.14 people. Since it's hard to find 0.14 people, most families in the U.S. comprise of 3 people. How much living space do 3 people need?

    There is no exact answer that is universally accepted. A scan of the internet shows a range of recommendations that seem to range mostly between 600 to 800 square feet per person or 1,800 to 2,400 square feet of living space. For 25 years, our family of four lived in a 2,400 square foot, 4 bedroom, 2-1/2 bath house and we we had rooms, such as our formal living room, that went mostly unused.

    Which leads me back to what we, as Americans, have been conditioned to desire. Why is bigger thought to be better and how can we move towards the idea that less is more? Big houses and real mansions will always exist but how can we move the trend towards wanting smaller, energy efficient, easy-to-maintain houses? How do we reverse the ideal of a large house in a sprawling suburbia -- an ideal that is unsustainable?

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