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In the News: Green Architecture Has a Ways to Go

Interested in getting the lowdown about green architecture? Then I suggest you read the Newsweek article, "The Bad News About Green Architecture." For a good while now, the reporting of green architecture practices has been nothing less than greenwashed, and I've been waiting for a mainstream publication to address our country's problem with its perception and definition of "green" architecture. In "The Bad News About Green Architecture," writer Cathleen McGuigan points out that "LEED rating" is an over-trumpeted catch phrase these days ("more than 16,000 projects are now registered with the U.S. Green Building Council as intending to go for a LEED certification"), and LEED isn't stringent enough with its awards — a long-held truth.

But more importantly, she stresses that building green if you're building big (i.e. McMansions), or unnecessarily, isn't green at all. There are various plans to build green resorts in Las Vegas, including the 8.3-million-square-foot Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino, likely motivated by the tax rebates that come with passing LEED certification. While that makes a great talking point in local papers, it still takes "tons of jet fuel that will be used to deliver millions more tourists to Vegas each year," and countless un-green materials to keep the place up and running once it's built. To hear more of my thoughts, read more.

Truly green architecture, she says, is "designed to suit their specific environments," such as New Orleans Shotgun houses, which are "built high off the ground to resist flood damage; they are made of local wood that dries out; they have high ceilings and cross ventilation to deal with the stifling summer heat." My favorite point is that "sustainability is about the practical systems of building, not the beauty of great design." Architects need to put aside the current trendiness of green architecture and just build so that ecological solutions aren't a calling card or a feature, but rather, invisible. I whole-heartedly agree with McGuigan, as she writes:

I look forward to a future when green architecture won't be discretionary but required of every architect and builder. Then we could all shut up about it. Sustainable features would become as exciting as the plumbing systems and as essential as a roof that keeps out the rain.

Now, I'll shut up about it.
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