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Is a "Green" McMansion Socially Acceptable?

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A modern, single-residence, 2,675-square-foot house in Chicago is attracting attention from both the neighbors and the world. The city's one-of-a kind net-zero home, reports The Chicago Tribune, tucks 48 photovoltaic panels and a rainwater collector within a "butterfly" roof, among other green features, and will produce as much energy as it consumes, if not more.

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune

While there are many good things we can point out about this house--the attention to energy consumption, the global message that is perhaps stronger due to the size of the house and the slick, well-thought out design packed full of recycled materials by architecture firm Farr Associates--we can't help but struggle with the message: Is big and expensive OK if it is green?

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Tribune

The house, clocking in at a cool $1.6 million, will only serve one person with its four bedrooms and two bathrooms: Michael Yannell (and his two cats). Yet, clearly this is exponentially a better solution than the likes of a 15,000 square foot "green" home.

Ideally, we promote living large in small places. This story, like many green stories touches on the controversial topic of what is green. Is any green step a step in the right direction? How do we differentiate between progress and just plain treading water?

If we compare the Chicago house to another example of green living in the news this week, the story of Daniel Suel, the modern day caveman who stopped using money (not to mention running water), perhaps the answer is clearer: Progress is somewhere in between.

More From Planet Green and TreeHugger on Green McMansions
9 "Green" Monsters: Can a 15,000 SF Mcmansion be Green?
Whither the McMansion? Opinions from the Wall Street Journal and the Atlantic
When it Comes to Green Building, Does Size Matter?

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