Home-remodeling junkies claim sustainability








It’s nice to see that the Spokesman has a Green page.

The May 25th Star Tribune “homes” section features three local homes as examples of “green living” in a “Style & Sustainability” article. It is very misleading, because if everyone produced a home as these three homeowners have, the environment could not sustain it! What these three homes have in common is not sustainability, what they do have is an attempt to impress their peers.

Two out of the three are newly constructed houses. The third is a total transformation (inside and out) of a St. Paul house. Who of us has the money to live so “sustainable”? The carbon footprint created to build and transform homes will never, well maybe 100 years from now, be offset by the energy that they save on lower energy bills.

One of the three is an “edgy farmhouse” in Afton: total new construction, 3,700 square-foot house plus a 1,000 square-foot carriage house with a three car garage. How is this a sustainable way of life? Their carbon footprint is huge based on all the material used to build it, and then all the new stylish furnishings — energy, energy, energy.

These home-remodeling junkies are really hooked into having a state-of-the-art kitchen. All three homes have a photo of the kitchen in the article. It’s great to save energy, but having to have everything so state-of-the-art trumps your sustainable way of life.

The problem with being a slave to the latest trends is that the trends are a changin’ — all the time. What are these homeowners going to do 10 years from now when their kitchens seem stale and outdated? Will the dumpsters be back out in front of the house as they undertake another home transformation, as they add another layer to their carbon footprint?

They’re trying now to keep up with the Joneses. Will they again in 10 or 20 years? These are people with shallow lives and money to burn; they are not a model for sustainability. I saw a photo from India, 16 men were living in one room, and we have the nerve to say such huge expensive homes are sustainable!


Frank Erickson lives in Minneapolis.