It's Easy Being Green

Luxury and green are seen and often treated as divergent concepts in the industry - one heralded by extravagance and individuality, the other by responsibility and, often, simple design.

March 01, 2003

 

The extensive use of plants in the softscape of Dream Home 2003 reduces heat gain, another example of green building.

Luxury and green are seen and often treated as divergent concepts in the industry - one heralded by extravagance and individuality, the other by responsibility and, often, simple design. But London Bay Homes of Naples, Fla., knows that the two building practices can work together beautifully, striving toward what it calls "intelligent" luxury home building.

"I think there has been thought that the luxury buyer is a conspicuous consumer and doesn't have the same conscience regarding the environment and ecology that other people do, or may not be interested in the same issues as people at lower price points," says London Bay president Mark Wilson. "Our feeling is that is not true."

 

Green aspects of the Dream Home's clubroom include a bamboo ceiling and a reclaimed pine floor.

In building the concept home Dream Home 2003, London Bay's first entirely green project, in collaboration with Home & Condo magazine, Wilson and his staff underwent an intensive educational process to help bridge the two worlds. The challenge was in learning exactly what green building entails (which changes fast and sometimes often) while also defining what it means within the context of London Bay's capabilities, mission and demands.

The other vital aspect of the Dream Home was extraordinary design. Wilson wanted to debunk the idea that green building means sacrificing design.

"Green or healthy houses have been aesthetically very average, and people have managed to do green and energy efficiency without great design," he says. "But the luxury market will not forsake great design for green or energy efficiency. It's taken awhile for people to see that the two can go hand in hand."

Many of the home's greatest green/design features are achieved via choice of material and the home's orientation. It has a north/south placement with a south entrance that gives way to spectacular views while reducing solar impact. The softscape incorporates lots of plants - plus a butterfly garden and a Feng Shui privacy garden - to reduce heat gain and bolster the home's luxury positioning. Interior rooms use recycled, reclaimed and easily renewable products; the clubroom, for example, has a bamboo ceiling and reclaimed pine floor.

Wilson says some material and appliance choices might increase costs, "but there's a cost-benefit payback over time."

The $3.75 million, one-story home has 6,700 square feet, 4,600 of which is living area. It was completed in 10 months and opened to the public in February. Wilson says the experience was beneficial and looks forward to incorporating the new green knowledge in future London Bay work.

"I think there's a total misconception as to what green building is," he says. "We have to educate the public on what is green about this house and also why they should think about doing it and how it impacts their lives. You explain the incremental costs, but you also explain what the benefit is, and they respond better to that. We've incorporated quite a bit of what we learned for future working with our clients. It makes sense for the company to do it for environmental reasons, and it also has a strong marketing edge that goes along with it."

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