So, why doesn't anyone want to shell out $1.1 million for this place? It's got custom cabinets made from sunflower seed shells, and triple-pane south-facing windows, and exceptional indoor air quality. It comes with 2.6 acres of land on a former woodlot, PLUS a two-car garage, which will come in handy because the nearest jobs, stores, and services are all miles away.
Sunflower-seed cabinets aside, it's a bit hard to understand how a such a large suburban dwelling built in a formerly rural area could be considered "green." Solar panels are cool and everything, but if your grocery shopping trip burns as many BTUs in an hour as they'll produce in a whole week, then what the heck is the point?
This is an oft-cited shortcoming of the LEED rating system: because the US Green Building Council's awards are points-based, a builder can make up for points lost on a lousy, unsustainable site by going the extra mile on things like insulation and renewable power systems.
The Freeport house may have gamed the LEED system, but homebuyers in the market aren't so easily fooled. The people looking for green homes just aren't that interested in paying $1 million to live in a huge house in the boondocks. Hopefully, the builders' experience with this place provides them with some valuable lessons without scaring them off from future LEED projects.
Related: Maine Sunday Telegram: "Unaffordably Green?" By Tux Turkel. November 4, 2007