"Environmental bling," he told the Miami Herald, includes "low-flow toilets, solar panels and bamboo flooring" -- not that there's anything wrong with these things, but they're add-ons that can disguise a home's environmental compromises."Fast homes" are like fast food, Brown says: showy but ultimately un-fulfilling.
Key questions to ask: Is your house oriented to the sun so it can actually take advantage of solar panels? Is it bigger than you need, often the Achilles Heel of eco-houses? Too far from work and school to enable sustainable commuting?
On his Slow Home Movement website, Brown offers a test to rate your home on how slow, or green, it might be. Here are five of the 10 points raised, each of which increases your score:
- The house is in a walkable neighborhood that minimizes car use.
- The house is modestly sized, has good "flow" between rooms, and a strong connection to the outdoors.
- The kitchen is compact, with an efficient layout.
- The home has an appropriate number of well-organized and modestly-sized bathrooms.
- All indoor and outdoor living spaces have good daylight and are easy to furnish.
American home design is improving, and Brown says 12% of residences are now "slow."