A Perspective of Green Building [Quotable]

Bruce Irving

"Truth is, I’ve been a skeptic about many aspects of the green building movement.  My eyebrow arches when, for example, someone uses bamboo flooring (which is held together with lots and lots of glue, often containing formaldehyde, and is shipped to the US on bunker-oil-burning ships) to floor a new ‘green’ 11,000 sf house.  Tough too to get on board when magazines feature low-VOC paints on one page and walk-in showers with multiple heads and bodywashers on another.  Greenwashing, marketing whatever’s hot, and just trying to make ourselves feel better as we change almost nothing about our consumption habits — the suspicion of these plus the thought that a year’s worth of green living is negated by 2 minutes operation of a coal-powered electricity plant … you get the picture … but after my time in the desert of cynicism, I’ve been reminded that every little bit helps, and just because larger forces are at work doesn’t mean we do nothing as individuals—as long as we keep lobbying against the big stuff, like coal-powered electricity plants."

     — Bruce Irving, Renovation Consultant, former producer of This Old House

Via Charles & Hudson.


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  • JS

    He’s right. That’s another (I think) valid knock against LEED, and why science and research should underlie LEED points.

    I’m hoping LEED 3.0 goes deep in that direction, as promised.

  • http://www.charlesandhudson.com Timothy

    I’d also add this quote from Bruce that was included in his original newsletter.

    “But after my time in the desert of cynicism, I’ve been reminded that every little bit helps, and just because larger forces are at work doesn’t mean we do nothing as individuals—as long as we keep lobbying against the big stuff, like coal-powered electricity plants.”

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @Timothy – thanks for providing more context to the quote, it makes more sense … I’ll add that in here in a little bit.

  • Josh

    I think both are true, actually. More context but to me, that doesn’t detract from his original point.

    Especially since his first big point is green is feeding consumption (essentially), and his second is that (I’m guessing), every little reduction in consumption matters.

    Green consumption is still consumption that’s harmful and destructive of human and natural systems, if just a little slower.

    Reducing consumption is more about not doing damage, even if just a little less.

  • Jill Herbers

    Cynisism does (at least) 2 things: Makes people think twice about doing the little things that do really add up. And puts an overall damper on the spirit of trying to do good. What purpose does it serve? Why is this a better alternative to doing something? I’m all for pointing out where greenwashing is occuring, but once that’s done, sulking over the fact that things aren’t perfect in environmental efforts is not helpful when the planet is in need of help. Let’s get behind changes big and small, perfect and imperfect, and get on with saving the earth.

  • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

    @Jill – you’re absolutely right. The comment above by Timothy continues the quote by adding some additional thoughts from the quoted:

    “But after my time in the desert of cynicism, I’ve been reminded that every little bit helps, and just because larger forces are at work doesn’t mean we do nothing as individuals—as long as we keep lobbying against the big stuff, like coal-powered electricity plants.”

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