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Why Build An 8,000 Square Foot Home When 800 Will Do?

Research shows that most people use only 5 percent of any house. It’s time to re-Align actual lifestyles with how we build.

The National Association of Homebuilders has just announced their latest environmental travesty, The New American Home for 2019. It’s a 7,900 sq. ft. monster, with a four-car garage, air-conditioned man-cave, and cavernous interior. The argument that’s often made for these giant show homes (this one is slated to show at the builder’s show in February of 2019) is that they’re built with the very latest materials and tech–so they don’t consume a lot of energy, despite their size–and that they demonstrate that luxury doesn’t have to come at a high environmental cost.

First, there is some truth to this argument. A home like this, built to net-zero standards, might actually consume less energy directly than an older, smaller home. But the devil really is in the details. Research has shown that the embodied energy of a new home typically accounts for about 11% of its lifetime environmental impact. That’s a small figure compared to the other 89% of energy consumed heating, cooling and maintaining the structure, but a home like this, almost four times the size of the average new home, is still going to have four times the embodied energy footprint.

Time To Align

An equally relevant criticism of oversized living, however, is that it simply doesn’t make sense. Big vanity homes typically don’t reflect how people actually live. They reflect how they would like to be seen to live. This gap between illusion and reality has been well documented. A famous study by UCLA published in book form as “Life at Home in the 21st Century” looked at how 32 families actually use their living spaces. The results were shocking. Most people use only about 5% of their homes. Apply that figure to 7,900 sq. ft. and you find that most people would regularly use only about 360 sq. ft. of that immense footage.

Coincidentally, that’s about the square footage of an exhibition we’ll be touring at about the same time as the “New American Home,” called The Align Project . Our Kasita modular home, the centerpiece of this exhibit, might fit inside one of the huge garages of the “New American Home” but it will carry a mission that’s disruptive to the “business as usual” model within the housing industry. It’s a small idea that’s expandable to every aspect of our lives. How many of us wouldn’t like to Align our Homes to our actual lives? Align our finances to expenditures that increase our happiness?

Our version of the New American Dream, we believe, is more in keeping with the way real people live. The Align Project is concise, compact, smart and resilient. It’s time for a Rendezvous with Reality. Stay tuned, as we unleash The Align Project over the coming months.

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