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Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability

2 Ratings: 5.0
A book by David Owen

Starred Review. While the conventional wisdom condemns it as an environmental nightmare, Manhattan is by far the greenest place in America, argues this stimulating eco-urbanist manifesto. According to Owen (Sheetrock and Shellac), staff writer at theNew … see full wiki

Tags: Book
Author: David Owen
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
1 review about Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living...

Getting a grip on greening

  • Nov 11, 2009
David Owen pops holes in environmentalists' cartoon thought balloons to help us see the world as it is, instead of how we think it is. He is adept at reframing one's thinking with examples and explanations that make simple sense.

The greenest people in America? Manhattanites--with the lowest average carbon footprint in the country. We sustainability-mongers tend to tout Portland or Seattle or San Jose, but New York has them all beaten hands down for walkability, transit, density and energy efficiency. (So much for the years I spent going back-to-the-land ... which I learned on my own were bucolic and energy intensive.) We need to implement NYC's successes in cities around the world.

Miles per gallon is the key to reducing auto emissions, right? Wrong. It's the odometer not the gas gauge that is most important in scalable reduction of carbon emissions. Driving less is far more significant than driving a hybrid. (And I thought my Prius was the answer ...) We need to create cities that eliminate driving for as many people as possible.

LEED certification is an important key to a sustainable building future? Not so fast. LEED is well intentioned, but it is very much a consumerist approach to building that emphasizes expensive gadgetry over meaningful conservation. Building smaller, reasonably efficient dwellings is a far better societal strategy than building large, high-end, LEED certified mansions. The LEED standards have also made conservation appear too expensive to average folks and actually discouraged the move toward more sustainable practices. We need to emphasize changes that everyone can make in their own lives, now.

This is a fine addition to the literature on sustainability, and potentially a real game changer for those who are working toward a green future.

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