As I mentioned yesterday in my list-o-links, America seems to have gone batty for "going green." Today I discovered Bird to the North, a blog about "exploring how places are made"--which I discovered, in turn, through this list from Eikongraphia of the top 25 architecture blogs on the internet...which I read about on Daily Dose (congrats to John for making the list!)
Aaaaanyway, apparently Shin-Pei, the brains behind Bird to the North, has noticed the green craze as well, and she posits the idea that the vapid "green" has now been tossed to the marketing hyenas, with the focus for serious environmentalists shifting to "Zero Impact." It's certainly nice to be reassured of the fluidity and evolutionary nature of the environmental movement. Gotta ask, though: what will Zero Impact people be called? "Greenies" was such a nice, succinct nickname. "Zeroies" does not work, by any stretch of the imagination. Zeimies? Z-Imps? Zimplestiltskin?
It will be very interesting to see how this shift will affect cities. Greening a city was relatively easy to commit to. That is to say, it is a lot easier to plan grandiose initiatives for using recyclable materials in future government buildings and put grass on the roof of city hall to make it appear that progress is being made than it is to commit to becoming a zero impact city and actually delivering. (Not to detract from cities that actually have made real environmental progress; I'm just pointing out that it's much easier to fake "green" than "zero.") Eliminating a city's ecological footprint--or even significantly reducing it--will require unprecedented leadership and cooperation...but would deliver truly unprecedented benefits to any city looking to attract educated, creative, wealthy residents.
In related news, Smart City Radio's 4/5/07 episode (the Atlanta trip has me running a week behind on my podcasts) focuses on the "Greening of Cities," and features a conversation with the US Green Building Council's Jennifer Henry on the new pilot program being developed to award LEED status to entire neighborhoods. (While I already liked host Carol Coletta, she graduated to hero status during the interview when she seemed to be literally reading my mind, asking the questions that popped into my head virtually as they did so.) Make sure to check out the podcast, which also features the whipsmart Dr. Helen Mulligan.
Zero (Bird to the North)
US Green Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development
The Greening of Cities (Smart City Radio)