Part of illustration by Peter Arkle
The Green Issue of the Sunday New York Times included Why Your Brain May Not Be Green, and also an interesting article by Rob Walker about Green renovations. He suspects that green renovations may be "the new normal." Unfortunately, the customers still seem to go for style over substance:
This is of course, the same question that comes up about installing photovoltaics instead of caulking and sealing, that people go for show instead of the low hanging fruit. Walker also notes that people are not exactly eager to live with less and downsize:
That said, there are hurdles to this theoretical new normal. For one, remodelers who specialize in eco-friendly projects say many homeowners still tend to focus on green stuff rather than green performance. It's easier to imagine friends being impressed by the virtue of your recycled-glass bathroom tiles than by properly sealed air-conditioning ducts, even though more systemic projects have "orders of magnitude" more impact.
A tougher barrier may be that consumers simply dislike anything that feels like a step backward. "No one has ever said, 'My water pressure is too high' or 'I want one sink instead of two,' " says Michael Strong of Brothers Strong, contractors in Houston.
More in the New York Times
More on Rob Walker in TreeHugger:
Lipstick on a Pig Dept.: Rob Walker on Fiji Water
A Story about Losing, Leaving and Buying It All Back