The Problems with Green Sprawl
We were less than impressed when Best Buy announced that it was going to build big green boxes; we called it lipstick on a pig. Apparently neither was Greener Buildings' Shari Shapiro, a LEED accredited Philadelphia lawyer. (Now that is a surprising mix of skills!) She writes:
Most Best Buys and [new] bank branches, are located in strip malls with seas of impervious parking lots that are accessible only by car. This phenomenon - where green buildings are located in unsustainable contexts - can be called "green sprawl. Green sprawl presents several problems: it justifies the continued development on the periphery, perpetuates reliance on overburdened infrastructures and misses the opportunity to build in a sustainable manner."
If the ultimate goal is to reduce energy and water usage at the level of individual buildings, than it does not matter what the context looks like. Install waterless urinals and a low albedo roof and call it green.
But context matters if the goal is to transform the built environment in order to have a dramatic impact on the environment. We should not sacrifice the forest to save a few trees.