Green design guru Neil Chambers is a busy guy. As Executive Director of Green Ground Zero, he's heading the burgeoning coalition of architects, designers and engineers nurturing green design and sustainability in the rebuilding process in downtown Manhattan while promoting the same internationally, but that's just his volunteer job. He's also principal of Chambers Design, an adjunct professor in green design and environmental policy at NYU’s Gallatin School, and the creator and host of Built Green TV. He recently found some time to sit down and talk to managing editor Rachel Postman at Guernica about sustainable design, New York City and his vision for a clean, green future, and has some really good things to say. Here are some of the highlights:"I remember one night as I walked into my apartment, and grabbed the doorknob, I realized it was metal—it was a moment of real clarity—and the metal had to be mined, and the mining destroys the land; and that runoff kills other animals; and you know the door was made out of wood, and that comes from the forest; and I opened the door and there’s the carpet made out of petroleum… and then there was wood paneling on the walls; and then the TV, and the mercury in the TV, and the power it takes; and when I opened the refrigerator, and the artificial cold air hit me, that made me think of the ozone layer; and I just crumbled -- I literally fell down on the ground. I didn’t know what to do."
"I realized I had to make a choice: was I going to look for solutions, or was I going to look at problems? And I decided to look for solutions."
"[At home,] I’m powered by alternative power, you know what I mean? My lights are being run by wind and hydro-electric energy. So there are new solutions, there are new ways of doing it. There are all the little things you can do. In terms of, is it more expensive? Some things are more expensive, other things are the same cost. Interior fit-outs shouldn’t cost more. You can do everything green and it’s the same price."
"People see green as being like Birkenstocks and tie-dyes. But, at the same time, so much has happened in the last two or three years, like in fashion: it’s becoming trendy to be green."
"I see a future where we can explore the universe and at the same time we can be completely connected and enrich and encourage biodiversity on this planet....I don’t hate technology; I don’t hate population; I don’t hate any of these things -- I think that they can coexist."