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Thread: Green NIMBYism and preservation: any truth to the arguments?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries

    Green NIMBYism and preservation: any truth to the arguments?

    In a controversial development project in downtown Cleveland, where a 1960s-era office building is slated to be replaced with what is claimed to be the greenest building in Northeast Ohio, there's a new twist on the arguments of preservationists that want to preserve the older building.

    What's the argument, you ask? More energy is consumed in tearing down an old structure, in the manufacturing and shipping process of building materials, and construction for a new green/LEED/whatever structure than what would be saved by the new structure over its lifespan.

    Any truth to it? Should old buildings be preserved solely because it's "greener" to let them be?

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    It sounds like the NIMBY's are focusing exclusively on building ecology--that is that they are only looking at the materials part of the equation while disregarding the rest. They also are not considering disposal methods for the old building. I'm guessing that with it being a 1960s throwback, it is constructed of glass and steel--two of the more recycleable materials. Being in a larger metro area like Cleveland, I'm sure there is a place nearby that would gladly accept the materials to salvage/recycle.

    Now back to the old building issue: the two things that immediately jump into my mind as key Green differences between the existing building and the proposed building are indoor air quality and energy systems. A 1960s era building is likely peppered with lead paint, asbestos, and a myriad of other materials that release VOCs. In addition, 1960s buildings by their nature are not efficient.

    In the case of a 1960s era building, I'd say the preservationists arguement that it should be preserved because it is greener is incomplete. They are obviously neglecting several alternatives, such as recycling of deconstructed waste. I cannot imagine the retrofitting required to take a 1960s building up to any kind of Green standard. I think they are grasping at straws.

    I might hop back on here to discuss this some more. My thesis touches on rehab vs. reconstruction in Green building for affordable housing, and mentions NIMBYism and Green building.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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