Like the age old question about that tree falling in the forest and no one there to hear it, I built an incredibly advance sustainable home in Venice CA, see www.737conserve.com in partnership with some big ole American companies, Kohler Lennox and GE to name a few, and I wonder if anyone cares? Green living roof? Check. Maybe the greenest pool ever built? Check. Geeky automation that keeps the house using as little energy as possible? Check. Crazy high efficiency cooling and heating, and if the house works properly, that system that will be rarely used, check. Water conservation throughout, check, check and you guessed it -- check.
Along with my partner Kelly Meyer, I was the original moving force behind project7ten, California's first conventionally built LEED Platinum home, and we couldn't believe the media focus on that project. That was then, this is now.
With 737conserve, I partnered up with 14 different companies, some of who donated their wares, others who sold them to me at a hefty discount. They did this because at the end of the day, the publicity we generate is a welcome, hassle-free trade off. But 737conserve was conceptualized before the "now" part of what's going on here in CA, and the rest of the world.
Representatives of companies, working with me, have been transferred or laid off. If they are still working for their respective companies, getting the word out that they have great environmental products, and a new genuine effort to reach high levels of sustainability seems to be less important, then surviving to see another day.
I get that, we all do. I am not silly enough to bite the hand(s) that feed me, both pragmatically and ideally. So thanks all you guys,
But this is my fear:
When the fake economy was all go go, the world was gaga over going green green. In my business of residential development, we had green realtors, green homes, green materials, hybrid pick-ups, blah blah blah.....
That focus, that path, seems to have dissipated in replaced by an effort and focus to just get through this mess. But the environment is suffering just as much as our economy. It was before the blowup, and nothing has changed. Yes, the caps are still melting, there is a drought west of the Mississippi, and the Colorado River has never been drier. I guess no one asked God if he would take a rain check on the environment, while we wait for TARP to bail out CitiBank.
I read an article in the LA Times about a week ago, where the writer suggested that the US government purchase 1 million of the new 53-MPG Prius's per year and give them away. In 10 years, our dependence on foreign oil imports would be reduced by close to 50%. Hey what used to sound like a far fetched idea, ($23 Billion/yr), sounds pretty damn reasonable to me.
Heck, I thought just give people a pro rata tax credit on their new car purchases: the less the gas-guzzler, the higher the tax credit. It wouldn't even have to be a free car. If we consumers got a $5,000 tax credit for buying a $24,000 Prius, Toyota dealerships would have to hire bouncers to man the doors.
So I have a suggestion for our new administration. Bailout money seems to be flowing in all directions. Turning our economy into a green economy was on our President's agenda. But so was health care reform, infrastructure and and a bunch of other stuff that might not be doable with the depth of the economic meltdown.
But you have to get people interested. We will come out of this mess, we will, but the environment does not need to be on hold. At least for the time being, incentivize the heck out of people's buying decisions. Need a new faucet? Well buy a new WaterSense water conserving one and get a tax credit. Furnace need replacing? Tax credits for you if an energy efficient one is purchased. Solar panels? Yeah I know we have rebate programs, but right now its just not enough of an incentive, even with the Federal tax credit. Put the tax credits for hybrids and other high efficiency auto purchases back in place, the list goes on.
So lets get some governmental folks together with the EPA and start to regulate a different problem that has remained out of control, regardless of all that has been written about it. Get us off that foreign oil. Our military spending is sure to be reduced. Get tax incentives in place for green building, clean cars, and alternative energy. Get them in place now. Make em higher if the product is manufactured in the US. The benefits will flow to the economy, the manufacturers, the consumer, and the environment. Truly a win win for all. The time is now.
Check out the 737conserve website, we asked "what if?"