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It should be easy being green

Tom Boyd

Last week I wrote about Vail’s New Dawn, and the importance of building with modern building techniques as we head into our next 40 years (see “vailtrail.com).There are building techniques out there which make a building more efficient and, therefore, more economical in the long run. As of now, Vail is not doing enough to encourage developers and property owners to employ these techniques.The problem, at its root, is social: many developers and builders believe that “green” building, as it is called, is cost-prohibitive. They shy from “PC” solutions to real-world problems. Saving the planet isn’t on the top of their priority list making money is.That’s what’s great about these new techniques they save money and, as a byproduct, reduce damage to the environment.There are certain up-front costs to doing this, but they are minimal. In fact, a recent study by Lisa Fay Matthiessen and Peter Morris of Davis Langdon Adamson (a construction cost management firm), indicates that the costs associated with modern building techniques is far less significant than a range of other factors that affect building costs.The paper probably isn’t too riveting of a read, but it can be viewed at http://www.dladamson.com/publications.html. It’s called, “Costing Green: A Compreh-ensive Cost Database and Budgeting Methodology.”The study focuses on LEED certification, which I have criticized for being too expensive. This paper attempts to prove me wrong, which is fine. I still believe that LEED certification is unnecessary: why not simply follow LEED guidelines and forego the certification? If it ends up being cost effective to build according to LEED guidelines, then it’s even more cost-effective to build according to their guidelines without paying for certification.The free market, not regulation and certification, should be the solution to this problem. If builders and contractors prove too slow to pick up on the trend, then government, at that point, should step in. Otherwise there’s no need to force people into doing it.I say this because common sense should prevail here. I have faith that the builders and developers of this county can do a little research and see the light. Why not? Everyone else seems to be catching on. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article reports that the most talked about topic in the architecture universe is how to reduce the environmental impact of everything from summer cottages to skyscrapers. Green building is catching on, and I suspect that’s because of its economic impact not its environmental impact.So why are we so slow on the uptake? What are WE doing to make sure we’re on the cutting edge of the latest architectural trends as we re-build our town?What are we doing?Write me a letter, give me a phone call: I want to hear from project managers, contractors, developers and builders who can tell me what they’re doing to make sure that our buildings are efficient.Many of us plan on being here for years to come, and we would like to be enjoying the benefits of your foresight, not managing the residues of your myopia.Over the next week I will be looking for examples of what our town is and isn’t doing to make sure we are energy efficient. Let’s hope I find good news. VTWrite Tom Boyd at tboyd@vailtrail.com or give him a ring at (970) 390-1585.


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