Are we insane?
The following was posted on the Ohio Green Building Law blog on March 26th. It's well worth the read! This was authored by David Scott, a Partner & Attorney at Luper, Neidenthal & Logan who specializes in - amongst other things - Green Building Law.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result … sort of like our energy and sustainable development policies these days.
Three summers ago the U.S. was beside itself over $4/gal. gas. But then new reserves were discovered off Brazil & Africa, Canadian oil sands were exploited, U.S. domestic production increased, prices dropped, and “experts” predicted “decades of residential and commercial power at reasonable prices.” Rest easy, fellow Americans, because stable and trustworthy energy-supplying allies like Moammar Gadhafi had everything under control … until a few dominoes fell … and now we’re back in $4/gal. territory again.
Who could have guessed there would be instability in the Middle East??? Apparently not our leaders in Congress who allowed the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (which would have provided rebates to contractors to be passed through as discounts to homeowners who retrofit their homes to achieve energy savings) to die on the vine. Their solution is to “drill here, drill now”, and pay no attention to the fact that retrofitting 75,000 houses would save as much energy as we lost in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, for about1/40th of the cost to clean up the Gulf.
Flashback over 30 years ago to when the first energy crisis led to calls to use ”the heat of the sun, the power of the winds and rains, and the warmth of the sun” to “capture energy from sources available, renewable and infinite,” and building designers explored climate-appropriate structures that would employ features like task-specific lighting, energy efficient systems, and automatic controls to maximize efficiency. (A Bucket of Oil – The Humanistic Approach to Building Design for Energy Conservation, Wm. Wayne Caudill, et al, 1974). But the lessons of the early 1970′s were largely forgotten as we became intoxicated by our love for SUV’s, suburban sprawl, and the siren song of cheap, abundant fossil fuel.
Does anybody else see a pattern here?
So here’s our bold idea: Let’s avance the goals of budget hawks and climate hawks alike by supporting national efforts like the Better Buildings Initiative, which will offer tax credits to building retrofit projects that reduce energy consumption. Let’s spread the word about local programs like our own Green Columbus Fund, which provides financial incentives to targeted activities to spur infill development and construction of sustainable buildings. Let’s learn from the lessons of the past, change some of the ways we do things in our built environment, and help create a more healthy, prosperous, and sustainable future.
Call me crazy, but I think we can do it.