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."

She concludes:

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.


::Greener Buildings

Tags: Green Building