Fast Cities?

OHSU building

While I’m often dubious about the whole premise of the magazine Fast Company, I see that they’ve put together a listing of the ‘fast cities’ of the world in a number of categories, and Portland makes the ‘green leaders’ list. I think that’s a fair assessment – there’s a lot of interest here in green building, and that interest is backed up by actual projects. As people do a better job of accounting for the full life-time cost of buildings, I think it’s inevitable that the techniques being pioneered here will become ‘no-brainers’ before long.

Above: a drawing of the new LEED-certified platinum OHSU building.

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  • Jim  On June 30, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Re: Sustainability

    It is such a narcissistic term. Do you really believe we can effect what happens in the Universe, Galaxy, Solar System, our planet. I think you are being optimistic. Should we strive for “green”? Certainly, when it makes sense on an individual, or even a societal, basis.

    You have been flying a lot lately. You were in New York recently. Did you notice all the open, desolate country you flew over to get there? Do you really believe a green building in Portland will make any difference? It can’t hurt, but is the additional cost worth it? Is the additional cost simply being pushed by those grubby Capitalists?

    You have been in Australia recently. When you fly across the Pacific Ocean, it is hard to imagine that man can effect what happens in nature over that expanse of ocean!

    We are part of nature also. Maybe we should just strive to build good economies and good societies where people will live good and happy llives, and let the chips fall where they may.

  • Curt  On June 30, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    I agree that the very term ‘sustainability’ is sometimes problematic. Strictly from the definition, anything that is not sustainable will not last, so why should we worry about it?

    On the aspect of cost – I think most cost accounting does not do a great job of looking at the big picture, and that distorts decision-making. If you do not have to bear any long-term costs, you will make short-term decisions. If you look at things from a longer view, however, it’s worth the investment to make things ‘green’. Worth it for ourselves, and worth it for the later generations.

    I also thing the paradigm is shifting toward a more biological view of things – in nature there is very little ‘waste’ – everything cycles, and there’s some living thing that makes use of what others don’t use.

    And last but not least, I think it’s a fun challenge to try to do something new, rather than the same old thing. Detroit as a city is really suffering these days, I’d say from trying to stick with the old model rather than trying to innovate. Not every city needs to be Portland, and I hope different places try different things to create a place that supports those ‘good and happy lives.’

    Can man effect the planet? Well, living things in general certainly do – the planet didn’t have any oxygen until bacteria started producing it some 3-4 billion years ago, and in fact that gas was pretty deadly for most of the other things alive then. So I don’t think it’s impossible.

    But at the base level, each of us makes decisions that we live with, and it’s the individual path that is important for each of us.

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