Monday, March 10, 2014

Whereas Sustainability

In the upcoming discussions of proposed changes to ordinances impacting the construction of large apartment complexes there is the following "whereas":

WHEREAS, in order to create easily accessible development regulations that integrate other such regulations, the Mayor and Council wish to revise the building code provisions for increased building quality, sustainability, durability, and longevity while revitalizing the areas zoned for uses other than what is currently developed.

We will gladly leave the debates and pontifications regarding how can we legally ban apartments as effectively as we've banned "Gentleman's Clubs" to far wiser minds and focus instead on what seems to be a minor point. Why does this seem minor? Because it is.

Basically this ordinance forces construction of 4 story and higher residential structures (BTW there are some houses that might fall into that description) to be built according to the construction codes of the third little pig -- concrete and steel. Again, we'll not argue how well these gulags will hold up to aesthetic criticism in their 50+ year life but instead we'll hone in on one word: sustainability.

This probably appears in the text as part of some boilerplate text that magically appears when someone on Hutmacher's staff pushed the easy button, but this is a Smart City supposedly with Smart Citizens and we hope with a Smart Staff. We should do better.

You don't have to be Kevin McCloud to know that concrete is definitely not a green building material and while steel is recyclable it carries a pretty hefty carbon burden. Wood frame on the other hand comes from trees and as we've all been schooled by the Paradise Pavers, be it parks or parkways, trees are a renewable resource. Any waste after use is either recyclable or biodegradable.

So to even suggest that these changes are in any way aligned with sustainability isn't SMART, it is SILLY.