8 Eco Mega Mansions and their Abuse of the LEED Certification

These houses are big enough to hate, but are they green enough to get away with it?

The Edge (as in U2) is dabbling in the luxury real estate trade with plans of “build[ing] a cluster of mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean,” in Malibu, California, per Business Week.

He’s seeking LEED certification for the mega-digs, but naturally the project is rankling some observers. The homes average 10,500-square feet each, considerably invasive for many green minded predilections. Critics are calling for the USGBC to step in and halt development, but the Council argues that it’s a state issue. The project is now at a standstill, awaiting a decision from California Coastal Commission.

We’ll do our best to keep you posted on the outcome. In the meantime, the issue of the mega green mansions of Malibu has got us wondering: by virtue of taking up so much darn space, are houses this big deserving of LEED certification and the associated tax breaks?

You tell us. In the meantime, let’s take a tour of eight jolly green giants, peeking inside the lifestyles of the green and famous (though just plain rich will certainly suffice).

EcoManor was built by Ted Turner’s daughter, Laura Turner Seydel, and her husband. It was the first 5000+ sq ft home to receive LEED certification.

Developer Frank McKinney sold his mammoth oceanfront green project, called “Acqua Liana” for the Fijian and Tahitian word Water Flower, for $15 million.

The 7-bedroom, 11-bathroom, 15,000 square foot house includes amenities like a 2,000 gallon aquarium, tropical hardwood floors (coconut, bamboo, palmwood, reclaimed teak, etc.), a movie theater, two glass elevators, three laundry rooms, swimmable water gardens and a whole bunch of other stuff that is way out of most people’s price range. It reads like something out of Places & Spaces, but I assure you: it is a house.

This Colorado abode is 9,800 square feet of eco luxury. It has four solar electric panels that produce enough electricity to run the home’s six refrigerators. The asking price is $4.5 million, a real bargain considering how cheap utilities are going to be.

Across the pond, on a pond, in Cotswald, England, the 2,400 square foot Orchid House sold for about $14.2 million. That’s about $6,000 per square foot.

It’s considerably smaller than the other mega-properties on this list and aims to generate more energy than it consumes through geothermal heating.

The following collection of houses comes from the prospectus of Windermere on the Lake, a private enclave of eco mansions in Stamford, Connecticut. For their part, the developers donated 25 acres of open space to the Stamford Land Conservation Trust, which abuts Windermere Lake, keeping the community bucolic and pretty.

The Westmorland

The Durham

The Cumbria

The Lancashire

Before you run out and splurge on a mega mansion of your own, first, a cautionary tale. Florida developer Jeff Ricketts set out to build himself a 10-bedroom, 12,000 foot eco home in an attempt to slash his energy costs from $1,500 a month to zero. When the St. Petersburg Times asked if building a smaller home would, indeed, be more cost effective and eco-friendly he responded that because his house was to be made out of renewable materials, it could always just be taken down and reused.

Sadly, his statement was not entirely true. Here’s a picture of Ricketts’ manse as it stood in the summer of 2010.

Neighbors call it “a monstrosity” and “an eyesore.” The city has no use or funds for it. Just goes to show that when it comes to green, in both dollars and sense, there is such a thing as overkill.

Images: Frank McKinney; CNNMoney; Web EcoistThe Daily MailWindermere on the Lake; St. Petersburg Times

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.