The parallels between the internet revolution and the 21st century green revolution are many, but the most salient perhaps is this: Wonderful progress is going to come out of this boom, but lots of business models and products are going to come and go, and we’re going to look back at many of them and shake our heads in disbelief.
GreenBuild.com is an excellent online resource for information about all things green relating to construction, and I sincerely hope they’re around and thrive forever. Every Friday they email me their “Friday’s Green Video,” and they are always interesting. But today’s video highlighted what can only be characterized as “bleeding edge green.” By comparison, in our post “Affordable Green Homes,” we reported on Michelle Kaufmann Designs, where this architect is trying to apply green building concepts to modular homes that are elegant and green, but fall within the budget of normal people. In that post, we contrasted Kaufmann’s products to the “Idea House” built in 2007 in San Francisco, which while incorporating brilliant green innovations, cost over $500 per square foot to build.
If the cost for the Idea House was stratospheric, the cost for the home featured in GreenBuild’s Friday video today was stellar. This 9,000 square foot home will go on the market for $15 million, which comes out to a cost of $1,670 per square foot. I’m not sure just how nice this home is, but if I can afford $15M for a home, I’m not going to tolerate low flow shower heads. And call me a curmudgeon, but the “ethanol burning fireplace” that the home features is one of those things we’ll shake our heads at someday. I’m surprised they didn’t explain that the fireplace will only burn cellulosic ethanol.
Once again, there are wonderful innovations in this home, and pioneering these innovations requires bleeding edge applications before costs settle down to levels affordable to mainstream consumers. But will everyone someday be able to afford geothermal heating and cooling systems? Probably not – this may never make sense financially. Will unsubsidized photovoltaics ever compete with conventional energy? More likely, but we’re not there yet. If you are looking for what green innovations are most likely to end up in your home in the next ten years, look to companies who are identifying what is practical and applying them to their products. For example, look to the green innovations in the homes by Michelle Kaufmann designs, and not to the bleeding edge green mega mansions of Long Island’s elite.
And if you’re investing in green technology, step back and ask yourself – IF all this climate panic subsides, and abundant clean fossil fuel (coal, shale, oil sands) has brought energy prices back to earth – will the business you’re interested in still be standing? No responsible investor should ignore this scenario.
|Even a turkey wants to avoid the bleeding edge.