Green Building – Bag for Life syndrome?

I’ve just read this article on the GreenWise blog, which is fast becoming essential reading and has made it onto our blogroll. It offers theories as to why high profile ‘green building’ Portcullis House hasn’t turned out to be the eco-giant it was meant to be. It could be subtitled ‘why all was well til the janitor turned up’.

Green Building – Management Blues

The article effectively makes the point that it’s all very well designing for sustainability, low-energy use etc, but if that approach is not taken on and actively practised by the end users of the eco-friendly item then really we’re getting nowhere.

Bag For Life syndrome

‘Bags for Life’ spring to mind here.  Someone I know (who doesn’t deserve it but shall remain nameless) has grasped the concept that environmentally responsible people use bags for life. So, every time this person goes shopping they buy a new heavy-duty plastic bag. The concept of reusing the same bag until it’s falling to pieces and thereby reducing the overall number of carrier bags bought and therefore made (in theory) has completely passed this person by. The thought processes, such as they are, go along the lines of ‘I’m buying the eco-friendly bag’ and stop there. Bang. By blindly adhering to just one eco-friendly principle in isolation, this individual is in fact consuming a far great quantity of resource than if they paid no attention to the environment and picked up a new, regular carrier bag every time, so the whole thing has backfired.

No brainers

I can see the argument for no-brain-required eco-friendly measures and there is a case for them in various circumstances I’m sure, but it’s not a long-term answer. In the context of a large and complex green building such as Portcullis House, buildings managers are needed who understand how to get the best from the set-up. The lesson we can all take from this is that good low-impact design is only the start.

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