DJC Green Building Blog

How green is too green?

Posted on September 3, 2008

Whenever a room of business people start arguing about green building, at least one ends up saying government should incentivize change rather than mandate it, otherwise green requirements will cause that other kind of green to dry up.

It turns out that in far-away Germany, a small town called Marburg is dealing with

Coutesy of The New York Times
Coutesy of the New York Times

these same problems. According to an Aug. 7 story by Nicholas Kulish in the New York Times, the decision of the town council to require solar-heating panels has caused some to call the town a "green dictatorship."

In happened in June: the council switched from encouraging citizens to install solar panels to making it an obligation. It requires solar panels on new buildings, and on existing homes that undergo renovations or get new heating systems or roof repairs. There's a 1,000 euro fine for projects that don't comply, as of Oct. 1.

Here in Seattle, changes like this don't seem real. Our politicians put a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags from the grocery store and the news and anger generated by the action is overwhelming. A change of the magnitude of Marburg's decision is certainly nowhere near occurring in Seattle.

But if it were, would this be the way to go? Where is the line between a green haven and a green dictatorship, considering many in this city would already consider it the later?

Let's take a small break from reality and imagine that Seattle was going to require something like this. I'm guessing solar panels might not have the greatest impact (considering our famously overcast weather) so then what would? Insulation, windows, green building materials, indoor air quality? What revolutionary change would you suggest the city take on? Answer my new poll to the right, or share your thoughts below.

For more on this topic, visit Smart Economy, Support the Warmth, Truemors or the Huffington Post.

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  1. The world is full of great places to visit, but, there’s no better place to live in the world than here in the USA. One of the things that makes this country great is freedom of choice.

    That being said, I’m happy that we haven’t turned into a green dictatorship. It’s always more enjoyable to make your own decisions than be told you have to do things. Going green with a building is no different. I love the fact that we decided to go green. Some might find it odd, but I enjoy reviewing my utility operating statements and comparing how the building is now operating more efficiently than in the past. Last week I compared my electricity consumption in the building to the last few years of operating history and saw that our electricity consumption dropped by over 40% for the same period. It is enjoyable to see the benefits of a green building and uncover hidden benefits.

    If I were forced into doing this, I’m not sure I would feel the same.

    For me, in order for it to be revolutionary, it would need to change the way people think and feel. It would need to inspire them, not make them angry. I think if there was an HOV lane for electric cars and free electric car parking and charging stations in the city that might inspire people.

  2. I’ve had fun building solar panels out of broken cells which then power my tv and fridge, and I want my projects to only get bigger. There’s no end to how ‘green’ we as a nation can go


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