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U2 Malibu Project: Where Green Streets Have No Name

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U2's David Evans, aka The Edge, and his partners plan to build five environmentally-friendly homes on an undeveloped 156-acre tract of land above Malibu Beach in the community of La Costa, which happens to be one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in Southern California.

These homes, averaging 10,500 square feet each, will apply for Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC), an 18,000-member organization that deems itself a "nonprofit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation."

LEED and other designations are part of a forward-thinking progression in real estate awareness, which have taken nearly a generation to be taken seriously by the development community. Curiously, USGBC is not commenting on the Santa Monica Mountains development, better known as the U2 Malibu project, claiming it's a local issue.

The U2 Malibu development, as it's known, is planned to be a cluster of large residential buildings above Malibu, with prime views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Malibu Pier, Surfrider Beach, and the Pacific Ocean. If these buildings can indeed be built, given that the rough, slide-prone area's setting would require substantial engineering feats, there is little question that they will be ecologically sound, and even luxurious, with a wastewater treatment facility and electric vehicle charging included among the planned amenities.

The question is whether the U2 Malibu project really needs to be built at all -- and if these homes must be built, do they need to be so big? This is not to disparage wealth, which is a terrific thing if one can attain it. The point is that since we're currently coming to grips with the fact that our lives are all intertwined, especially in terms of environmental impact, we have to ask ourselves how green even a green development project could be when it's to be so big and planned for such an environmentally sensitive area?

The website for the project maintains that its "intention was to achieve a benchmark for sustainable design in a sensitive area." Yet the National Park Service, which manages land near the proposed project, does not seem to think the project is viable. Nor do other local environmental action groups. Their collective point is to question whether a project, no matter how eco-friendly, can actually be green if it negatively impacts the land it's built upon. A decision from the California Coastal Commission is due in the next few months as to whether a permit will be granted on the development.

The Edge has proven to be one of the most talented musicians in the last 25 years. However, the decision to push this project forward may equate to his other recent failed venture, which was the creation of the Broadway musical Spiderman. It's much too big, much too ambitious, and just over the top. For this reason, it has been temporarily closed in order to be scaled down. Hopefully, the U2 Malibu project will be scaled down too -- before it gets built.

Jonathan A. Schein is CEO/Publisher of GreenRealEstateDaily.com and NewYorkHouseMagazine.com

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