I keep hearing that the word of this year is “green.” As much as I would like to believe it, I question whether or not the message is getting through to consumers and clients. With the number of government initiatives at the local, state, federal, and international levels growing, I have hope that the effects of living more sustainably will begin to pay off for consumers who are readjusting their lifestyles. Bill Maher pointed out on a recent Real Time With Bill Maher, however, that even Al Gore needs to hold a rock concert to get the point across.
A trend in Hollywood is for celebrities to display their green commitment. Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Eleventh Hour” received good box office ratings; Ed Bagley Jr.’s television show on HGTV, “Living With Ed,” where he makes green improvements to celebrity homes is successful; and even the Emmys went green by using recycled plastic carpet and reusing set materials. As much as the intentions may be good (or just for publicity), in my opinion it is celebrities making choices unconscientiously who do more harm to the green movement.
Last month, Donald Trump announced his plans for a new golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, which he calls Golfopolis. The £1 billion project includes two golf courses, a 450-bed hotel, 1,000 vacation homes, and 500 private houses on the site of conserved coastline property. As reported by Melanie Reid in The Times (See “Wildlife Groups Dismayed as Donald Trump Gets Go-ahead to Build ‘Golfopolis’ Dream,” 09.13.07), Raymod Reid, Aberdeenshire Council’s head of development, said the social and economic benefits outweigh the negative environmental impacts. Needless to say, I am disappointed that Trump would make such a choice, despite his claim that Golfopolis will be “the best golf course in the world.”
It is encouraging that, according to a new AIA poll, people are willing to invest more in energy-efficient homes (See Survey Shows Americans Lost in a Sea of Green, in Around the AIA + The Center for Architecture). I have faith that Hollywood is not the only place the public looks to for guidance. Architects and planners are contributing positively to sustainability initiatives on many levels. The more green development, the more everyone benefits. There must be a reason that going green is trendy after all. I just hope that the Trumps of the world don’t devalue this year’s word.