How NOT to Build Green
Don Fitz is not a fan of green building. At least not the type he perceives the current green building vogue to represent: a movement by green architects, activists and politicians to promote building practices and "eco-techniques" with a narrow focus that do little to address the underlying environmental problems.
He laments the fact that politicians in particular rarely demonstrate any real concern towards global warming, often choosing just to hitch their rides to the green bandwagon in order to bask in the positive glow it brings. In fact, he argues, current U.S. building practices are more likely to increase carbon dioxide emissions than they are to reduce them. He cites a few worrying statistics, most notable of which is the fact that over 90% of energy in homes is produced in "nasty" ways (i.e. by coal, oil, gas and "nukes"). Fitz then goes on to provide a helpful list of 10 ways in which the contemporary green building movement isn't helping to improve the environment (for the more extended list, be sure to check out the complete article):
1. It ain't green to ignore perfectly good homes.
2. It ain't green to build massive homes.
3. It ain't green to encourage urban sprawl.
4. It ain't green to build as if space for homes has nothing to do with transportation.
5. It ain't green to ignore advantages of multi-family homes.
6. It ain't green to pretend that there is no advantage to building underground.
7. It ain't green to not know what the word "green" means.
8. It ain't green to protect the environment with one hand while destroying it with the other.
9. It ain't green to build homes that will not outlast our grandchildren.
10. Voluntary green ain't green.
So what would actually going green (in his view) entail? Fitz provides the following steps: reject the idea that you can build green one house at a time, create an urban space with a high density of multi-family homes to minimize the use of cars, ensure that new buildings will last at least 300 to 500 years and use less energy intensive heating/cooling systems like solar panels and insulating glass.
Granted, the 10 ways in which he describes green building as not actually being green will probably seem as no-brainers to most of you; however, his suggestions for how to improve this philosophy certainly provide food for thought. Any architects/designers in the audience want to weigh in?
See also: ::Building Green: Energy Efficiency and Aesthetics From The Same Materials (Part 10), ::Harvard Business Review: "Building the Green Way", ::Most Huggable: Clinton Pushes Green Building, The Fish Debate, Software for Eco-Construction, ::Green Building 101: Water Efficiency