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green@work : Magazine : Between Blue & Yellow : May/June 2006

Between Blue and Yellow

Building a Movement

By Sarah Christy

I have to say, it seems that every day we are hearing and seeing more and more about the green movement. To use myself as an example, one minute I am editing an article about the growing interest in the alternative fuel ethanol for our winter issue, and a few weeks later I am reading about it on CNN.com. There’s no question that American acceptance of environmentally friendly products, services and practices is growing faster than ever.

One example of this is featured in this issue’s cover story, written by Diane Greer. In “Greening Affordable Housing,” Greer talks about how affordable housing is going from being easy on its residents’ pockets to giving the environment a break as well. The Green Communities initiative from affordable-housing builder Enterprise Community Partners is aiming to do just that with its latest development, Diversity Houses in Manhattan. Diversity Houses is one of 77 developments in 21 states financed by the Green Communities initiative, and the building boasts features such as energy-efficient appliances, lighting and windows, and a rooftop garden that doubles as a building insulator.

Dana Bourland, director of the Green Communities initiative, explains: “To provide fit and affordable housing actually means something a bit different today because of the progression of the green buildings movement. We know there are better strategies to integrate into affordable housing that lessen the impact on the environment, lower operating costs and provide housing that is healthier, better located and made from more durable materials.”

While Enterprise does not necessarily use Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in its projects, many builders are starting to, and the process can sometimes be confusing to navigate. Thankfully, architect John M. Rossi breaks down the LEED requirements in this issue’s Building News article. The LEED criteria are broken into six sections: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design Process. There are 69 possible points to earn to achieve the top LEED rating, Platinum, with 26 points garnering a Certified rating.

When considering a structure’s environmental footprint, just as important as the construction of a building is what lurks inside it. Marketing expert Holly Bornstein writes in this issue about one household product that can pose a threat to air quality and health—insecticide. Bornstein asks, “Is a passionate and brilliant business owner with a unique, useful and safe product enough to reinvent a category?” She concedes that although a greener alternative to the mainstream product is making a lot of headway in the market, there is still much to be done. Bornstein recommends some key strategies to spreading the word about alternative products such as Bugs ‘R’ Done, a 10-year-old product that works by dissolving the lining that waterproofs an insect’s breathing passages. Therefore, Bugs ‘R’ Done “doesn’t poison bugs (because) it doesn’t poison people.”

So while there is no doubt that people all over the world are taking steps toward embracing a greener culture, one question remains: When will the journey be complete?


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