The Greenwash Brigade

Making green sexy?

Jim Nicolow Jan 26, 2009

Here at the Greenwash Brigade, we recently received a press release titled “Making Green Sexy,” about a LEED certified mega mansion in Florida called Acqua Liana.

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The average American home, which has more than doubled in size since the 1950’s, is now about 2,500 square feet, with the median home price just over $200,000 (opens PDF). At 15,000 square feet and $29 million, the 11-bath ‘green’ megamansion is 6-times larger than an average new home, and nearly 150-times more expensive.

Some of Acqua Liana’s features are legitimately more environmentally preferable than what one might find on a typical 15,000 square foot home, if there is such a thing. It has a solar system large enough to cover a “regulation-sized basket ball court.” The website indicates that the solar array generates enough electricity to run 2 average sized homes, but not enough to power the megamansion. And the release touts the 10.5 acres of Brazilian rainforest ‘saved’ through the use of reclaimed wood.

But can any house using more than twice the electricity of an average home or consuming 10.5 acres of wood (sustainably harvested or not) really be called ‘green’?

To apply a tortured analogy, this feels a bit like the school bully asking for pacifist credentials because he hit you fewer times than he could have. “Hey, I ‘saved’ you from being hit a few times! Butch would have hit you 6 times, but I only hit you 3 times. That’s a 50% reduction from conventional practice. Let’s celebrate my pacifism!”

Maybe the “waterfall spa with fire feature” and the “arched aquarium wet bar (walk below with exotic fish above!)” will indeed help to make green sexy, as the press release suggests. But this smells more like an attempt to assuage the potential buyer’s guilt over such conspicuous consumption in an age where that has clearly gone out of fashion.

Making green sexy? This feels more like making obesity sexy.

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