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How ‘Green’ Can a Huge House Be?

by Slow Home last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:12 AM
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by Slow Home last modified Apr 07, 2008

By Lisa Prevost of the New York Times The steeply sloped cedar-shingled roof of the model home at Windermere on the Lake shelters roughly 7,000 square feet of living space, a respectable amount of room in this privileged suburban corridor between Pound Ridge, N.Y., and Darien, Conn....




 

 

By Lisa Prevost of the New York Times

The steeply sloped cedar-shingled roof of the model home at Windermere on the Lake shelters roughly 7,000 square feet of living space, a respectable amount of room in this privileged suburban corridor between Pound Ridge, N.Y., and Darien, Conn.

The house has five bedrooms and four baths, as well as fancy features like a home theater, wine cellar and mirrored exercise room.

It is the first of 24 homes planned for a development named after an area in the English Lake District, and built in a style meant to evoke 19th-century English country houses.

Set on 74 partly wooded acres with a private lake, Windermere promises to be very lavish and, believe it or not, very green — as in energy-saving and preservation minded.

Windermere is the first project of NRDC Residential, a new division of the National Realty and Development Corporation of Purchase, N.Y., which wants to develop a niche as a builder of “architecturally driven, planned communities with an environmental consciousness,” said Mark Robbins, the division president.

With the help of the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, known by its acronym, LEED, NRDC Residential hopes to present large luxury homes as environmentally friendly.

Yet the goals of spare-no-expense luxury (homes at Windermere start at $3.2 million) and environmental awareness seem unlikely when combined. After all, can a four-level house with a three-car garage and a kitchen full of energy-hungry Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances truly qualify as a model of environmental responsibility?

NRDC is trying to prove that it can, by applying for LEED certification. But even that stamp of approval may ultimately be questionable: Although LEED is generally considered one of the toughest green standards because it requires third-party verification, its overseers at the building council in Washington acknowledge that their willingness to certify expansive houses is controversial.


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