Pesky details

Green revolution isn’t in the bag yet

This column has absolutely nothing to do with our building on Del Paso Boulevard!

This column has absolutely nothing to do with our building on Del Paso Boulevard!

Photo By Sena Christian

SN&R buys a building, wants to make it green and pays Sena: Eco-Warrior Princess to write a weekly column about it.

As usual, I’m right on the ball and have spent countless hours (meaning half of an eight-hour shift) researching, synthesizing, cross-referencing and a whole bunch of other complicated processes you couldn’t possibly understand to offer the American public my midyear reflection on where we stand with this whole green-building movement.

Wow, that is quite possibly the best sentence I have ever written!

Doesn’t matter that I’m three months late. Cynically, you’ll assume I’ve run out of green-building story ideas and am pathetically scraping the bottom of the barrel for material. You’d be correct, but that’s neither here nor there. Only a pesky inconsequential detail, kids!

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m not ashamed to admit when I need help (right now, please).

Hmm, probably should’ve attended that ribbon-cutting to celebrate plans to install a rooftop photovoltaic system on the U.S. General Services Administration building in Sacramento, which will spare the air of roughly 1.2 million pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions annually.

But I didn’t. So I’m regurgitating instead. Forgive me. Hopefully, a retrospective look at this point isn’t too late, or somewhat irrelevant.

After all, Sacramento’s doing great in the green-building arena. We started up a local branch of the U.S. Green Building Council, which operates the LEED-certification program. Local developers LJ Urban completed the first phase of its Good green-housing project in West Sacramento in July. Three businesses created the Green Living Center in Midtown—what has become a hub for eco-film screenings, activism and solidarity. When East Sacramento homeowners let their front lawn wither and die, the city freaked, then mellowed, signifying a shift in how we look at water conservation. Our community colleges offer clean-technology vocational training, equipping students with skills and future job security; UC Davis Master of Business Administration students designed plans for what might become wind- and sun-powered affordable housing near the Sacramento County Jail.

I suppose rather than reflecting, I could mention the piece of legislation authored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg that would historically alter California’s land-use policies by encouraging transit- and pedestrian-oriented infill development, creating an arrangement where shops, jobs, houses and neighbors are situated near one another, where “community” doesn’t mean putting up gates to keep other people out, and residents sell their Hummers because displaying personal insecurities through a polluting hunk of steel and plastic and aluminum is, at long last, passé.

Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

A reflection piece? What a cop-out. All it shows is how far we’ve come, something we already knew. I mean, come on, we’re living in an era when we have an intellectual—a true humanitarian—as the Democratic nominee for president! Can’t you see the brighter days ahead? Aren’t they blinding?

But I wonder. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine came from Brooklyn, N.Y., for a weekend of debauchery in San Francisco. She found the most shocking aspect of the weekend was all the recycling receptacles conveniently placed on street corners. She wasn’t surprised when some man ran past and spit on our faces. But recycling bins? Shocking.

Sen. Barack Obama, that presidential nominee who’s supposed to change everything, supports “clean coal” and nuclear power, two measures many environmentalists regard as “false solutions.” And Sen. John McCain—the man who’d rightly be considered a maverick if he lived in the 1800s—said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and no to investments in renewable energy, then named a gun-toting vice presidential pick who refuses to acknowledge the role people play in global warming and appears to hate polar bears and love massacring wolves from airplanes. I’m afraid there’s not a prophylactic strong enough to defend against this kind of draconian ignorance.

It’s scary stuff. Carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere are a third higher than pre-industrial levels. Oil and coal industries spent $427 million on lobbying and advertising during the first half of this year alone. It’s frightening, how even environmentalists give lectures on which is more important: voting with our money or casting a ballot this November. As if we must choose only one. As if we have only these two lonely options from which to choose.

Why a reflection piece now? Do you really have to ask?