Is Gisele and Tom's New 22,000 Square Foot Mansion Really Eco-Friendly?

The supermodel and football star just completed construction on a lavish home in Los Angeles. How much of a difference will energy efficient appliances and solar panels make?

It took 20 months and $20 million dollars but Gisele Bundchen and her football hubby, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, now have their very own 22,000 square foot McMansion in the Brentwood community of Los Angeles. The home boasts two wings connected via bridge, eight bedrooms, a six-car garage, weight room, wine cellar and an adjoining pool and spa on over three acres of land. And of course, no mansion is complete without a functioning elevator.

The model, who is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and her husband recently came under fire from environmentalists for the size of their lavish home. But despite its gigantic size, Bundchen says she built the home using a green construction company, solar energy, energy-saving lights, rainwater recovery systems, waste reduction and recycling programs, energy efficient appliances and sustainable building materials.

So, what’s the controversy about?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average carbon footprint for a three person household is 12 metric tons of CO2 per year. Considering the average home is about 2,300 square feet, the Bundchen-Brady family could potentially be emitting almost ten times more than the average household, or about 115 metric tons of CO2 each year.

Last month, Gisele was named the most eco-friendly celebrity at the annual Green Awards in London. She helped launch safe water initiatives and anti-foresting movements for the UN. Given Gisele’s dedication to being green, it’s no surprise that the size of the power couple’s mansion is getting so much attention. Size does matter when it comes to sustainability. According to AlterNet.org, “Additional energy is wasted by the longer heating/cooling ducts and hot-water pipes in a big house. And for a given house design -- ‘green’ or standard, monolithic or pseudo-Victorian -- the bigger its square footage, the bigger its environmental footprint.” Plus, building a single-family, 2,500-square-foot house “generates the equivalent of 36 metric tons of carbon dioxide.” That means the Bundchen-Brady home, which took almost two years to construct after original plans were scratched, generated even more emissions during construction.

We applaud the couple’s efforts to green building but we have to wonder how eco-friendly a home that averages 7,000 square feet of space per person can be? What do you think?

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