Alternate Title: Why Green Really Should Be Called Beige
So once a week I put my vodka and soda down (within reach of course) and set out to create some sort of educational blog posting that will be one part Sesame Street (minus the big yellow bird and the ambiguously gay duo), one part Mad Money, and a little dash of the Playboy Channel (I know you’re not watching it for the stories).
Warning: I’m probably going to piss off a few of you with today’s post.
Anyway, (sips vodka & soda…. crap, dropped my lime)…. if you haven’t figured out, I’m a pretty vocal sort on Twitter. I participate in way more Twitter chats than most humans should ever participate and can be a bit catty if I haven’t had my second Diet Coke. Usually the premise behind all of these chats is to Twat/Tweet/Chitter with fellow designers and industry peeps and banter about a topic that quite frequently was pulled out a hat. Even more frequently, someone asks the question “What are you doing/incorporating to be an eco-conscious designer?”. Let me be frank, if I hear “I reuse furniture” I’m going to stab myself in the eye with a moderately sharp object (which isn’t easy considering that keeping sharp objects in the house is a violation of my parole). This answer is attune to saying “I recycle….sometimes”.
Ok, sure. The whole idea of incorporating eco-sensibilities has been violated by the likes of many an advertising agency and PR guru by calling it a movement and plastering “Eco-Friendly!” in Comic Sans (odd font reference, sorry) all over any product that even remotely appears green. And sure, there are a sh**load of vendors out there promoting green products that are about as earth friendly as Weinerschnitzel is German. Let me tell you that after working on two LEED projects and spending more time researching the flush rates of low-flow toilets then most people spend on college dissertations, I get it. Really, I totally understand this whole ambivalence to jumping on the Green bandwagon let alone actually understanding its premise. It’s time consuming, it’s troublesome and it takes nerves of steel to make it through the battlefields of green design.
But here’s the problem. There are way too many in our industry that view sustainable design as an option, like choosing between an English muffin or sourdough toast at breakfast (I’d like free-range, salt free butter please). The result is that we get plagued with objections like “My client didn’t ask for it”, “It’s too expensive” or my personal favorite, “I’m no damn hippie”. It is objections like these that caused the forehead sized dent in the wall of my office and to have had to purchase my third Magic Keyboard (Magic Mice just aren’t as much fun to throw).
So enough of the rant and on to the solution. It’s an easy enough solution really. Are you ready? I mean seriously, this is some crazy crap that you’re going to think I need to be institutionalized for. Ok… here it is…..
Stop selling Green as Green.
Simple right? It comes down to designing with standards that incorporate sustainable features and treating them as nothing but a part of the typical design. That’s it guys. Seriously. What I’m saying is to design your projects with eight watt LED downlights instead of designing around 60 watt incandescent and giving your clients the option for LEDs after-the-fact. Or by telling your contractor to use recycled cotton denim insulation instead of just “whatever”. Heaven forbid you give your electrical guy an actual spec for the actual dimmer switch instead of just “Decora style, white”.
By the way, did you know that dimming isn’t just for ambiance? That by dimming your lighting by an indiscernible 10% you are not only adding 10% to the life of the lamp but also reducing its power usage by 10%? This doesn’t mean that much to those with incandescents since they tend to last 750, maybe 1,000 hours to which 10% means only 7.5 to 10 additional hours. But to LED users with say a 25,000 to 50,000 hour life span we’re talking an extra 2,500 to 5,000 hours of light (not to mention, if using 8 watt fixtures you’d be saving 22 to 44 kilowatts (yes kids that’s 22,000 to 44,000 watts) of power over the life of the lamp. That’s like money in your pocket. AND, guess what? There are actually dimmers on the market that will automatically make this reduction without you even knowing. Mind blowing isn’t it?
Sorry about that… I get off on tangents.
So this post today was not meant to be scolding or beat up on you guys out there. I just want you all to treat sustainable design as if it were no big deal, as if it were part of the daily grind. Like it was ordering your daily triple roast, non-fat, caramel macchiatto with a single, no make that double shot of espresso. It doesn’t need a pedestal (heck, it doesn’t even need mowing) and believe me, Mother Earth will appreciate your hard work.
K, I need a refill now.