Friday, February 20, 2009

Ethical Underpinning in Green Design

I was reading my Greensource weekly newsletter email and it connected me to this inspiring and telling blog post from Greenbuilding Elements, called the 10 dumbest green buildings on earth.   The author, Adam Felsinger really socks it to you with examples which on their face value appear green, are green in fact with LEED accreditation etc., but if you just think a wee bit critically these projects are indeed laughable examples of Green building.  They may or may not be "greenwashing".  What it's called doesn't matter actually.  It's the first princpals behind the projects or lack there of which interest me.

 Of course a few examples hit close to home.  The basic idea is how "Green" can something be if the  fossil fuel usage overall premise for the project can't stand up, ie in the Green BP gas station nary a electric charging station car, sharing drop off point, proximity to a bus stop to be found.  It's his number 1 example.  But it's very cool and has nice stand-alone green features.

Looking at the big picture is critical to helping to validate green intentions.  For me it starts further back with looking at the ethics behind green initiatives and seening if a triple bottom lined approach is present in the conversation and decision making of those involved.  In 1994, this approach was developed by John Elkington and perhaps others before.  This model represents the interconnected aspects of our economies, environment and societies.  It's a vital place to begin conversations, and it's also a great mechanism to evaluate the integrity of greening efforts.

What do you think about this model as a foundation underneath green decision-making and green design?  Are there ways this can be used or is being used to support design conversations in their beginning stages? Great examples?  It seems this is what is missing in the 10 examples found in Adam's blog post.  There appear other, less positive motivations in play behind the projects.  Regardless, while there may be great intentions behind many of these projects, it's totally worth the  self-examination and questionning.  

If we don't ask these tough questions while we do our work with our customers and partners we collaborate with what are we leaving for the generations to follow us?

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