Are Ecofriendly Homes the New Prada?

     A new house built in Venice, Calif., that is said to emit no harmful gases has everyone talking. That is, if “everyone” means elitist environmentalists with a few celebrities to glam things up. New York Times writer Felicity Barringer reported on the new million-dollar “trend” on June 22.

     Kelly Meyer, the business partner of the builder Tom Schey, said that just because something is more environmentally friendly, it “doesn’t have to look as if you got it off the bottom shelf of a health-food store.” The other upside to “green” products? “It doesn’t have to smell like hemp.”

     But the article, which glamorized “green” living, failed to point out some of the downsides that make the lifestyle too exclusive for average Americans.

     “Today, dinner-party bragging rights are likely to include: ‘Let me tell you about my tankless hot water heater.’ Or ‘what’s the R value of your insulation?’” Barringer wrote, implying the house is less about helping the environment and more about the social status that comes with appearing to care.

     The buzz is about houses obtaining recognition from LEEDS, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which classifies houses under four categories based on how “green” they are. Barringer asks “is LEEDS a useful selling tool?” while referring to the highest LEEDS ranking as “the hot designer label.”

     She did mention that although the “ranking is a Prada label for some, for others, it is a prickly hair shirt.” Barringer explained that, “the imperatives of comfort and ecofriendliness are not always in sync.”

     But being a bit “prickly” was the only major downside Barringer saw fit to point out. She did list the price, however, of the modest-sized four-bedroom house: $2.8 million.

     The push for “ecofriendly” homes comes from “worries about climate change and rising energy costs,” Barringer said, offering statistics suggesting the humans’ carbon emissions are to blame for climate change.

    But there is no proof that human beings have anything to do with the rise in carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Which says historical evidence has shown that periods of warming in the past actually accelerated growth of life on Earth.