Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Buildings, Well, Suck...

Quick, I saw some open space, stick an empty building in it! Welcome to my pet peeve. Obnoxiously rampant in San Jose -- biz occupancy rates are down, so what are we doing? Building more huge empty buildings! YAY! Open space? BOO! Knock down an empty building to build a bigger empty one! YAY!

The article by Jennifer Berry that got me all riled up and feeling green? The Greenest Building

The environmental cost of commercial construction = huge. And knocking down something just to put a new one up -- even worse. And even if the new construction is "green" -- the total environmental and economic costs are massive.

How massive? I've cribbed some nifty tidbits from the article below.
  • “The Pew Center on Global Climate Change estimates that 43% of carbon emissions in the United States are attributable to energy used in residential, commercial and industrial buildings, making the building sector the largest source of greenhouse gases in America. This figure does not even include the energy required to build new structures or to demolish established structures.”
  • “Demolishing a 50,000 square foot building creates 4,000 tons of waste… Constructing a new 50,000 square foot building releases as much carbon as driving a car 2.8 million miles.” -- Richard Moe, president for the National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • At current rates, one third of the existing building stock in the United States will be demolished in the next 25 years. The refuse from construction, primarily from demolition, represents approximately 25 percent of the waste added to our landfills each year.”-- The Brookings Institution
  • “It takes approximately 65 years for a green, energy-efficient building to recover the energy lost in demolition of an existing building even if 40 percent of the building materials from the demolition are recycled.”--Richard Moe
  • “Data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency indicates that structures built prior to 1920 are more energy-efficient than those built through the year 2000, when the concept of sustainability began to take hold.”
  • The General Services Administration estimates that the utility costs for historic buildings in its inventory are 27% less than for modern structures.
  • “If you are rehab-ing any building in a city, the labor costs are a lot more than the actual materials, helping provide jobs. For example, [economist Donovan] Rypkema said that if you spend more money on the labor, you’re spending more money for the economy, because the laborer will spend the money again.”-- Heather Massler, TAE
I'm going to go eat some tofu and drive my Prius around the block now...

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