Saturday, September 20, 2008

Green building overdose?

People are getting sick of greener-than-thou buildings, and rightly so! Lots of designers seem to be missing the point as they compete to build bigger and more green buildings (green McMansion = oxymoron, as this writer points out). How about not building at all? Or renovating existing structures that sit derelict in many American cities whose residents have moved out to the suburbs (in Baltimore I’ve heard it called “white flight”). The light rail route along Howard Street in particular makes me sad: here is a row of once-beautiful specimens of architecture that have fallen into disrepair and neglect. A look at the photo book Baltimore: then and now by Alexander Mitchell illustrates how picturesque this and other areas of the city used to be. It’s a shame.

Last week I attended a lecture sponsored by the Baltimore USGBC chapter that gave me hope! John Knott, Jr., formerly of Baltimore, is a developer who understands the idea that creating sustainable communities can mean revitalizing existing ones as well as building new structures to fill the gaps. Check out his Noisette project in South Carolina. I’m happy to see that other developers around the country (and around the world, even) are catching on to this idea as well: this week the NCPC sponsored a conference in Washington DC that started off with a panel discussion at the National Building Museum. Leaders from the capital cities of Brazil, Sweden, and Oregon (from what I hear, Portland is one of the green capitals of the USA?) spoke of initiatives that they are implementing to create healthier, more sustainable communities. Now that’s good green news!

No comments: