Sunday, March 14, 2010

Passing the laugh test.

The New York Times has an article on the granting of green status to a 10,000 square foot new home being built in Berkeley, California. The designation was granted since the new home had received enough points based in features and materials used it it's construction and perceived ongoing maintenance. The beauty of such a system is that it is relatively objective and straightforward. The downside is that it's very easy to game a system where you get something ludicrous. Reading the article you can't help but chuckle. I can't even feign outrage because it so goes to the history of human nature.

Technologies as a solution for green and environmental issues are always touted because they are cast as market solutions, and markets foster innovation is the claim. And the wealthy always want the best which trickles down to the proletariat, um excuse me, the middle class. It really seems to be a new twist on the old idea of indulgences where you paid the pope to absolve you of your sins. Sort of like the Montana energy wasting fines.

it also boils down to the notion of outcome fixes vs value changes. The green technologies marketing reminds me a lot of the fat free food marketing. I can eat more of this "bad" stuff because we've taken the bad out. When in reality you just ate more of it and had as much bad as when you started. Or people substituting popcorn as a snack because it was low calorie but then eating more of it and still gaining weight. The real question is what is the total resource consumption per capita when evaluating greenness.

At 6500 square foot of livable space for two people, and a per capita 3250 square foot per person, more than the average American household space for four people (and this is a current average including the mcMansions) does seem excessive. So sure the Kapors should be commended for supporting green technologies, but please don't say that makes you green.


At 1:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely put. Here, Here!
- Roger


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