Noelle Swan

Save Our Cities

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2009 at 4:55 pm

The San Francisco Bay area prides itself on its aggressive implementation of environmental policies. Surprisingly, David Weintraub reports in his December 26, 2009 NYT article Air Quality Guidelines Face Unexpected Critics that some Bay area environmentalists are opposing caps on green house gas emissions. As the region’s air quality regulators propose new guidelines, these environmentalists have become wary that increased regulations will drive builders to outlying areas, contributing to urban sprawl. While this specific issue is based on local zoning laws and loopholes, there is a discussion that is applicable to every metropolitan area.

We need development within our cities. People who live in cities put fewer miles on their cars. Heat that is lost through endless rows of suburban roofs rises up heating apartment after apartment in cities. Suburban supermarkets stock a large selection of perishables, resulting in a high throw away rate. For all of their faults, cities are places of efficiency.

Air pollution is a very real concern today for the majority of America’s cities. City Mayors.com cites an American Lung Association report, “Six out of ten Americans live in urban areas where air pollution can cause major health problems.” Statistics like this are evidence that while want to avoid pushing developers out of the cities, we need to prevent them from further contributing to the poor health of the city.

So the quandary of the century is, how can we motivate developers to invest in cities despite the rising costs of meeting new standards?

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification has brought recognition to the table as well a set of measurement standards. Those developers of LEED buildings wear their certification as a badge of honor. Yet, so far, this designation means little to the majority of the population. It is only when lessees begin seeking out LEED certification on a large-scale that developers will feel the pressure to pursue certification.

What is called for is an aggressive public relations campaign bringing the term LEED to dinner tables and water coolers near you.

Sources:

http://www.citymayors.com/environment/polluted_uscities.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/us/27sfpolitics.html?_r=1

http://www.usgbc.org

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