Thursday June 24, 2010 | “Greening:” England vs. America

June 23, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Coming Up | 7 Comments

We’ll meet an expert in the “greening” industry. Elena Michel lived and worked in England for five years in the sustainability field. When she decided to move back to America, she found that we’re at least 10 years behind England in terms of green building and the sustainability industry in general. We’ll talk about what’s different in England, where we are in America today in terms of being “green” and what will likely change in our culture, our architecture and in government regulation.
Elena Michel
– Green Designer and Consultant, Second Eden Studio

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  1. Most buildings do NOT get their energy from foreign oil…so it is valuable to save energy in buildings…but it is not the answer to our cars

  2. I agree with almost everything which Elena is saying. However, I do not think it is a good idea to cultivate bamboo in the southern U.S. as a building material. Bamboo is an exotic species which escapes cultivation, invading local ecosystems and squeezing out local populations of native species.

  3. I have been home in Charlotte for about a year after spending 8 years in England studying. The attitude there towards sustainability is completely different, even to the point where grocery stores such as the high-end Marks & Spencers now charge a cost of 5p per plastic bag to encourage you to bring your own reusable tote or reuse plastic bags, and this is becoming common practice. The result is that it becomes personally beneficial to chip in towards the larger goal of sustainability, and this is happening in the UK on every level, both because of government efforts and those of private companies.

  4. I would like to add that I believe an enormous use of energy relates to loss of heating and cooling from lack of insulation in attic and crawl space areas- leaky windows and doors will work better AFTER appropriate insulation has taken place.

  5. Shepard-So bamboo shares many problems with hemp though they both have many advantages. I just installed a bamboo floor, beautiful and much less costly than hardwood on the environment. Bambo has its applications.

    Harriet_ I’m in DC this week. They also have a 5 cent plastic bag tax. Bring your bag when you visit Washington.

    Correct Pete- Not building new cars and structures saves the most energy. Natural gas, a popular heating fuel and a false energy bridge, may be the most destructive fuel. See “Gasland” now on HBO) a documentary about gas fracking. Drilling shale in the Gulf is another variation of fracking. The water table is more valuable than any fuel.

  6. I agree that we Americans can get a lot of sustainability cues from the UK and other countries (especially Germany), but the USA is a completely different animal.

    For one, the population of the UK is VERY dense: there are around 62 million people or so crammed on to that tiny island. To put that in to perspective, the American state of Oregon (just a single state) is a bit larger than the the UK and only has a population of around 3 million. So we are taking about a huge difference of scale here.

    What we need to do is reactivate, rebuild, and retrofit mostly self-sufficient small towns and rural areas – linked up to cities/suburbs with a good train network – instead of cramming people in to vast cities and suburbs like they do in much of Europe because they’ve simply run out of space.

  7. Realist: This world is a horror for claustrophobics. (Give me land lotsa land under starry skies above…” The truth is that people commute too much. It would be better if office workers telecommuted, but corporate culture could not instill sufficient panic without face to face intimidation and foolish dress codes. Thorstein Veblen thought in the 20s that technicians would seize power from the wealthy by choosing how expertise is applied. When you consider that idea you realize that humanity must have had a lobotomy for it not to have happened. They smother resistance in the cradle I suppose. As for ruralism: Why go to the BIG City when everything you need is within walking distance? But then again, walking distance is shorter living in the city. Maybe we have the dichotomy all wrong. It could all be the same place. I haven’t seen any “country” around Charlotte in decades. Trains are sexy fun though, except when Duke is hauling coal.

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