Blaine County and its cities have long made noises about reducing the carbon footprints of public buildings and public transportation in order to help rollback climate change.
If they are serious, they need to go further. They should limit the size of new single-family residences and require large homes to generate electricity through solar installations or other means.
Nation-scale efforts to roll back Earth’s atmospheric overheating still remain too much in the policy stage to produce meaningful cooling. In any case, it will take changes in millions of communities like ours to keep the globe habitable.
The evidence that change must come has been disastrously visible all summer.
The West has been on fire. Every town has been living on borrowed time until a misplaced spark or lightning bolt ignites a fire nearby. The National Interagency Fire Center reported that as of Aug. 30, 647 wildfires had burned 4.8 million acres in the U.S.
Category 4 Hurricane Ida left one million Louisiana residents in the dark, parishes underwater and landscapes looking like King Kong had a tantrum.
Unless Americans want more of the same, we have to change—a lot.
A 2018 study of 900 homes in Pitkin County, Colorado, completed by the Resource Engineering Group concluded that as home sizes increase from 1,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet, the energy used per square foot triples.
The conclusion came after a review of data from gas and electric utilities. It ran contrary to the expectation that as home size increases that the energy used per square foot would drop.
The researchers speculated that reasons for the greater energy use may include snowmelt systems, pools, spas, complex audio visual and security systems, and a liberal use of glass in high-end residences.
Pitkin County, the home of the Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort, capped the size of single-family homes at 15,000 square feet in 2006. The county is beginning to look at reducing that number. The city of Aspen’s cap is 5,000 square feet.
Energy generated by fossil fuels is finite and
must lessen if humans have any chance of
keeping the planet from becoming a wasteland.
Putting a lid on the size of energy-guzzling new homes would help. So would requiring them to produce at least part of the energy that they consume.
Keeping home sizes down would also reduce pressure on other resources.
Just because people can build gargantuan single-family homes doesn’t mean they should.
“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.