This is a story that comes up from time to time: people who live in larger homes, sometimes called “McMansions,” should pay some sort of penalty as they consume more. Here is this very suggestion from an Australian academic:
People who want to build energy-guzzling McMansion-style homes should pay more taxes, an academic says.
And taxes should also be used to make owning multiple plasma TVs prohibitive, says Melbourne University construction expert Dr Robert Crawford.
Rapidly increasing suburban house sizes, more reliance on cars and a rise in demand for consumer goods had wiped out many of the benefits of building energy-efficient homes, he said yesterday…
“Indirectly through the price of materials and things like that, if you make it more expensive in some way to build larger houses then that might encourage people not to do it,” he told the Herald Sun.
Such a move would be similar to other incentives that governments offer regarding certain activities.
But I have wondered in recent years why there aren’t more builders who are trying to make these large homes greener. They could benefit from this as one of the big knocks on McMansions is that they are symbols of excessive consumption. So why not earn some points back by making them more environmentally-friendly? I assume there are things that could be done that might cost some money but could also fight back against this image. In the long run, it may just be “greenwashing” but building homes that most people consider “McMansions” because they contribute to environmental problems is a losing cause. Additionally, this might expand their markets to people who are looking for greener homes. What reasonable American homebuyer with money today wouldn’t want a larger AND greener home? And for critics of McMansions, what if they were quite green – is the larger issue the presumed unnecessarily large size or the home or suburban sprawl or something else?
Of course, we could also have a larger national conversation about greener standards for buildings. But we would know how this conversation might play out…