August 10, 2003 - Sunday
Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
Yes, I am indeed a fortunate lad.
Yesterday, I was reading through some of the proceedings papers submitted for the International Green Building Conference and Expo—which kicks off three months hence on my Scorpio birthday—and came across one titled "Sustainable Federal Facilities" by a septet of authors from various governmental agencies.
Even though I like to think that I'm smarter than that, my mind was made up that it was just so many hollow words before I even started reading.
A small handful of years ago I was reviewing a flashy CD-ROM about the greening of the federal government. It had some scant examples of studies to be concluded, ideas to be explored, programs to be implemented. One particularly memorable bit indicated that X-significant-amount of energy could be saved at the Pentagon if unused computer terminals were turned off at night. Well—how's about you folks just start turning off those unused computer terminals in the Pentagon at night? Obviously, that frustration has festered all this time in my petty life.
As I was reading, I began to realize how much progress really has been made since then. Amazingly, the wheels of environmental concern are grinding forward, at least as far as its built environment is concerned, in the American federal government. There's a long way to go... but they're going. There are dedicated people working to change the system from within, and it's working. And at the scale of the federal government, even a baby step can be comparatively colossal.
The fact that does remain unchanged is that the aggregate activities of John and Jane Citizen—our poorly-performing homes, our SUVs, our lawn fertilization runoff, our oil dumped down the drain—is the biggest environmental offender what there be. Not government. Not corporations. Us.
I haven't followed mainstream, product-oriented green building too terribly closely over the years. I've been involved in the homey, funky, one-off, owner-buildery, natural-materials, make-do, neo-hippie throwback stuff... and in that reality, the idea of an entity with real estate holdings of close to 500,000 buildings with over three billion square feet of space is impossible to comprehend. But I guess that it's probably pretty stupefying in just about any reality.
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