Seeing Green

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It’s time for a rant, isn’t it?

what

What Does “Green” Mean?

It’s not easy being “green.”  It’s something that is constantly beat into our heads day after day.  It is, however, very important that the world become “green” and buildings get “green” and lighting gets “green” and so on.

What is “green?”  What does it mean when a structure gets “greened” or something is “green compliant?”   What do “green consultants” do, and how do we flip our surroundings to live the “green life?”   We are lighting whole cities with LED sources, and we are adding solar powered lighting to streets, parks, highways, warehouses, malls, classrooms, emergency rooms, operating rooms, rooms at the Pentagon, in theatrical production, in signs and advertising, and in more places than is possible to list to bring them closer to being “green.”

Everything is “Green” Now, That’s What They Saaay

Calling everything “green” is very odd to me.  It is partially odd because by nature I kind of expect every person I meet to do all things with a modicum of respect and intelligence; it is also partially odd because I am always surprised that “green” everything isn’t the status quo, if you know what I mean.   I won’t go into a tirade about how “green” is a truly talented marketing ploy or anything like that – but I would think that, let’s say for example, if I was building a new house in a sunbelt area, that I would make a very high fraction of the whole if not all of that house’s power be some kind of sustainable energy.  The opposite of doing that is just building a house and relying on a failing system of power distribution because that’s what’s cheapest.  That’s pretty lame.

Does “green” mean making smart choices that benefit civilization and have no impact on the Earth?  Shouldn’t it?

I say call it what it is – that’s my issue with “green.”  The truth is the best idea, always – we can get over how much the truth might suck, but once we found out we got lied to, more trust is lost first.  I had a conversation with Vik Duggal and James Bedell at Konstructr back in the winter (which I still haven’t had time to edit, sorry guys), and Vik said something that I thought made perfect sense (pardon the paraphrasing, Vik): “We should be building structures that last for a thousand years – not that get repurposed after eight years and torn down after ten. Does this not make perfect sense?  Whether we can or can’t, why aren’t we trying?  Is it capitalism?  I guess my thoughts are more along the lines of Jacques Fresco with the resourced based economy idea and less with capitalism.  Maybe someday we’ll figure it out.  I am still amazed at how fast a CVS or Walgreens store can be constructed – in Denver over where our house was, they tore down a Walgreens store and are constructing a new one about 50 feet away from rubble of the first.

Glimpses of Progress

Seeing solar panels for sale and all of the required metering at Fry’s earlier today really positively shocked me, mostly because I build and maintain our home’s computers, and try to be very DIY.  They were still in the $160-$200 range for 80w (about $2.50 a watt), but everything seems to get cheaper as people realize they can get it anywhere.   My area of knowledge and skill happens to be light and lighting, and when I think of “green” something or other, it’s usually within that realm.  LED light is getting better all the time, fluorescent technology is constantly evolving, and light sources using plasma are getting into concert production, architecture, and art.  Even incandescent lamps are improving.  Granted it was because some politicians said they had to do it – but I’ll take that over nothing.

“Green lighting” and sustainability are concepts that should be linked to standard practices – we certainly want everything bigger, stronger, faster all the time – but this is the time to buckle down and make this happen.  Major technological bumps in the line graph of civilization are usually made at the precipice of a large problem that needs solved.  This is our time, and this is our problem.  From my angle, all people who deal with light should at least consider this problem every once in a while.  I feel like we need a strong motivator – fixing problems because they’re so profitable but leaving more important problems to become bigger problems because there’s no money to be made needs to stop.

If you think about how important it is to, you know, still continue to grow as a civilization and all – and then you compare it to how much politics and the Wall Street BS makes me want to puke in my mouth, I can only come up with one question: what are the billionaires and the oil money people going to do when we’re out of oil and we didn’t solve the problem first?  I bet it sucks counting your money in the dark.