Thursday, April 10, 2008

On Livinghomes

I thought the gentleman (unfortunately forgot his name) did a good job today in his presentation on livinghomes. It is surprising how energy efficient these homes can be and even though they haven’t reached their stated goal of Z6 (zero on all 6 goals: emissions, carbon, waste, ignorance, energy and water) they’re still doing pretty good. Obviously this comes at a price and he made it clear that they’re not trying to compete on price but rather they’re trying to build a modern, quality home that is super efficient.

He said his goal was to do something where it is possible to wed profit with social responsibility. Basically do what’s right while making money. He gave examples of professors whereby they make money (unfortunately for them not lots) while providing a social service (educating the next generation). This statement can be construed as being a bit unfair: most companies, whatever line of business they’re in, like to think of themselves as companies that are making a profit while providing a social service (i.e. being socially responsible). The airline industry is helping people get from one place to the other, the defense industry is supplying the men and women of the military with technology to help save their lives, the utilities are supplying electricity that powers schools, hospitals, etc… and the list goes on.

At the end of the presentation I was impressed with what they’re doing with this company but at the same time I was left wondering about the use. To me this project is analogous to someone who goes out there and develops this super-duper energy efficient private jet and markets it to the stars of Hollywood. Yes it’s something good and beneficial but it’s such a small market, a niche market like he called it that I’m still not sure what the purpose is.

Maybe this will inspire other builders to follow suit and start building energy efficient homes. Maybe it will be like an education campaign for the public and they will start asking for more efficiency in their own homes. Who knows, if that’s the case then I can definitely see the merit in this project. My hope is that it doesn’t stay a project for the elite…

1 comment:

Bonnie Beavers said...

I found the presentation interesting. Of course, some part of me was inspired by the energy efficient design and construction. But the other part felt slightly annoyed that there is probably no chance that I'd ever be able to afford a home like that. And...even if I could afford a Living Home, there is next to no chance that their design with huge windows (to provide most of the lighting) would prove to be as efficient in the Texas heat.

I wonder too, what is the purpose of this world-changing efficient design, if such a small fraction of Americans can afford it?

I understand that every step that is taken to reduce ecological footprint results in an increase in the price of the original product. However, I feel like Living Homes has taken this concept a little too far. They've come up with such a green design that it is not at all affordable. It seems to me that it would be better to come up with a design that reduces a home's footprint by 30-50%. This would make the homes much more affordable. It seems that more people would be able to purchase these types of homes, and overall, it would be a greater reduction in ecological footprint. But this is just my idea and I know that it is probably much more complicated than this.

Either way, I agree with you and hope that this project can expand and become more affordable for the average American.