It's the Environment, Stupid.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

NYC Real Estate - Green?

I must admit, I rolled my eyes when I saw the title of the feature story on the front page of the Sunday New York Times Real Estate section, "It's Getting Easier to Be Green."

I've commented many a time about how great it is that mainstream media is covering the whole "green" scene, and I suppose now that it is getting done I shouldn't reallly complain about HOW it is being done. But I will.

First of all, the kermit reference the title evokes is OVERDONE. It was cute for a while, and although it still has an element of truth to it (it is getting easier to be green) this reference is getting old.

The story itself is commendable, even if it does gloss over some of the finer points of green building and LEED. And although it does touch on the consumer appeal and some (negative) realities of living in these buildings, it doesn't do enough to emphasize the benefits on a personal level.

Of course I don't think writers should praise green building unneccessarily since building to green standards is a relatively new thing, and there are technologies that are being experimented with and continuously improved upon. And while the article infers that there is an increasing preference on the part of the apartment hunter to go green if there is a choice between that and its non-green counterpart, there is a strong hint of "buyer beware" about the featured green buildings.

One more thing that annoys me about mainstream green coverage (and explicit in this article) is that green costs more. Yes, it does - about 1-3% more in upfront costs, which are more than made up for in energy and other cost savings over the lifetime of the building. Plus, price points are falling as materials become more widely available and as architects and developers become more experienced in designing green. But it is kind of silly to talk about price in the ONE green article in the Real Estate section, which primarily features multi-million dollar, luxury, non-green "dwellings." You don't see the word affordable much in those articles.


  • After reading the article, I dont' feel that they put too much stress on the cost of the apartments, in fact they did spend a good portion of the article pointing out that some of the new buildings are being built for low-to mid income families, and they do mention reduced cost of utilites due to the building being more energy efficient.

    As for the kermit reference, while it may seem over done to you or me, the average american isn't as entrenched in environmental issues and probably found the title fun and engaging, which would probably increase the likelyhood that they read the article. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just try to keep in mind that these articles are not written for "us" (meaning people that follow environmental news regularly) and so while it may seem trite or old hat to us, it is lighhearted, entertaining, and informative to the general public.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09:45  

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