December 1st, 2010 WW Editorial Staff | Letters to the Editor
 

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Don’t bank on Full PSU classrooms.


Thank you for this article on sustainable office space [“Green Giant,” WW, Nov. 24, 2010]—it is very informative. Indeed, the “living building” challenge is visionary and one that we need to embrace.

The 20 percent-per-year PSU enrollment growth rate seems, however, to be short-sighted. The current recession job market has driven many unemployed workers back to school—to retool and gain new job skills. When the job market rebounds, university enrollments will decline sharply as these workers seek re-employment. Enrollments will shrink back to pre-recession levels, sustained by post-boomer, smaller generations—resulting in empty classrooms.
Chris M. Dieterle, P.E., Analyst
Portland General Electric Power Supply
Engineering Services

wweek.com readers comment on “green giant”


“I will never understand why so many people consider solar panels to be sustainable technology. Solar tech is great, and there are a lot of breakthroughs on the way that will make the current tech look antique…[but] solar panels do not come out of thin air; they require massive amounts of silicon and other rare earth minerals which are mined in, among other places, war-torn regions of Africa like DR Congo. So when we look at a project like this, let’s not kid ourselves, all right? Unless, of course, you secretly have a huge stash of cadmium telluride laying about and just haven’t told anyone.” —Ryan

“The argument for this building is the same as the argument for new ‘eco’ cities, and both miss one salient understanding: There is nothing sustainable about increasing the built environment.

There is no comparison between the carbon footprint of manufacturing all the glass, concrete, synthetics and other materials to create this slick trophy—let alone the carbon footprint of artificially and temporarily expanding the city’s carrying capacity for more habitation for people—and that of restoring that land to native habitat.

But this project is not about sustainability. It’s about ego, masturbatory fantasy, and making select wealthy elites even wealthier off the public trough. If sustainability were the real concern, then the less sexy thing would be done, which is to retrofit existing buildings in the same way that Ecotrust retrofitted theirs, and we’d be deconstructing others and restoring the land beneath them back to habitat and greenspaces. All those cool solar, geothermal, graywater, blackwater and rainwater systems can and should be installed for existing buildings.… There are already way too many vacant office spaces in Portland. For what justifiable reason should another one be built, other than to boost more non-sustainable activity?” —Josy

 
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