Is The Green Movement Anti-Growth?

By
Real Estate Agent with Eco-Steward Realty

  

I read a comment on a Dena Stevens blog a couple of days ago by Michael Rossregarding his opinion that the Green Movement(my definition below)was anti-growth, anti housing, anti builder, anti developer, anti business, anti property owner's rights. Dena responded by saying  the editor of the local newspaper also shared his opinion that being Green meant opposing growth and new developments.  While I know most members of the Eco-All Stars Green Scene would not agree with this idea I believe that there may be more than a few out there in the Active Rain community and the general public who might share the same sentiments as Mr. Ross.  So I got inspired to write this blog because I have had many years to watch, experience, and mull over this issue.

To start my definition of Green Movement here would include: green building concepts  the use of energy efficient designs, utilizing easily renewable or sustainable building materials , the use of low or no toxic materials in paints and other green building products, as well as sustainable site design.

In addition to the above segments of the Green Movement in Real Estate, I also include environmentally sound development practices. Here lies the broader issue of how does a community manage growth in an environmentally friendly manner without sacrificing economic growth and jobs. These are two biggest reasons IMHO that political and business leaders will use to justify any type of development that comes in to a community. It is on this point where the rubber meets the road and where a great deal of conflict and adversity over the years have been experienced by environmental activists who were against "overdevelopment " and residential developers and business leaders who supported "progress and growth for our community".

I  have to confess that up until the past decade I think that Mr. Ross' assessment of the Green or environmental movement being anti-growth was for the most part accurate.I say this because there were few if any alternatives to stop out of control growth from overrunning a community(usually in unincorporated areas) and creating a negative effect on the quality of life in that town or region for the residents already living there. There are hundreds of examples in all 50 states where development has occurred in a haphazard and unplanned manner totally overwhelming a communities infrastructure of roads, schools, sewer and water treatment facilities, and social services while residents watched helplessly as more and more of their way of living was permanently altered by subdivision after subdivision sprouting up all around them.  Absent any alternative models to over development many people in affected communities began to come together in citizens and community coalitions to pressure political leaders to do something about runaway growth. These ordinary citizens joined the Green Movement whether they knew it or not since they shared common goals. The words" moratorium on new development" have struck fear into hearts of many building and business communities, as well as Board of Realtors. It has also caused numerous politicians tremendous anxiety as they seek to calm a disgruntled public while also attempting to assure their building community campaign donors that all will be OK. I have personally watched this type of scenario played out in several places I have lived and it is never pretty. Battle lines get drawn and intense conflict usually follows. Many communities get split down the middle over how growth should occur. And it is easy to see why being Green has automatically translated to being anti-growth. Labels are such an easy way to define people.

However, since the year 2000 the concept of sustainable development   has  begun to become more widely discussed and understood and does offer an alternative model to the more cut and slash development models that have been prevalent in the United States for at least the past 50 years. The model, while having some similarities to Smart Growth  is ultimately a paradigm shift in our way of thinking about growth, focusing on three different aspects of how development will influence and impact an area:

  • Environmentally
  • Economically
  • Socially     

Sustainable Development 

This model plugs the community needs and desires in to the equation. And as this  link points out, sustainable development can be different from green development in that green development will tend to always favor the environment over the economic or social factors while sustainable development will consider all three variables in planning on how growth and development should occur. I believe that the Green Movement is evolving toward supporting the model of sustainable development and away from the anti-growth stance that it has had to embrace for the past three decades in order to preserve environmental resources in different communities. This alternative path to sustainable development is, however, a more challenging one I think, since it requires dialoguing among groups of people who have historically seen each other as the enemy.     

How this all plays out in our Asheville, North Carolina real estate market will also be interesting to see since we are experiencing intense growth and development here that is threatening out mountainsides, viewsheds , while also having a marked impact on affordable housing . There are a variety of citizen groups that have formed and environmental organizations that are networking with each other to deal with the scores of mountainside residential subdivisions that are being planned, some already permitted to allow over a 1000 new homes.  Our challenge is now to educate all sides on how growth can be accomplished in a manner that is a win/win for all sides. The Eco Consultants of the Asheville Board of Realtors as well as the Board itself are in a unique position to educate all sides, including our political leaders on how sustainable growth in Asheville and the surrounding areas in Buncombe County can be achieved. This will be a good test to see whether the Green Movement in our area can make the shift toward a sustainable growth dialogue. I hope to keep you updated as process evolves.  

 

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Rainmaker
1,513,928
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate
The Green Movement isn't anti-growth, it's responsible growth. I'm glad to see more and more builders factor environmental impact into the process. Next we need to go with more low and mid-rises (build up instead of sprawling out) so that we can preserve some of the natural beauty of the land.
May 01, 2007 10:19 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,075,396
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
You have raised all of the points of view.  There are people on both side of the issue with their own extreme agendas.  We must strive to find balance.  Keep us posted on the progress.
May 01, 2007 10:31 PM #8
Rainmaker
173,941
Real Estate Guy in Madison, Wisconsin
Powered by: Keller Williams Realty - Madison, WI
Real Estate Guy

There are many ways to be green.  There are so many things we can all do.  It just takes education.  Education to see what can be done, and how. 

May be we do need to cut back a bit, build smaller, smarter, use less and recycle more.

Bottom line, if we don't figure a way to house all these people then nature will!!  Sooner we do it the better.

Maybe you could say we are "ANTI DUMB GROWTH!"  ie miles and miles of concrete joined by miles and miles of 6 lane highways. 

May 01, 2007 10:36 PM #9
Ambassador
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Bill~ 

As I looked at the photos with which you begin your article tonight, I can SEE what your subject is. Great reporting, man...and thank you. As a REALTOR, you obviously are looking at the "big Picture" for your clients. That's the-kind of person I sure would want to be looking out for my best interests.

May 02, 2007 12:39 AM #10
Rainer
10,834
Corey Atherton
Suncadia Real Estate Sales Company - Cle Elum, WA

Bill,
This is a very worthwhile blog and topic.  I believe the biggest challenge is EDUCATION.  The more developers, builders, reatlors, buyers, etc. that know at least the basics of green building, sustainable communities and other factors the better of we all will be.  Keep up the great job of sharing this important message with any one having internet access.

May 02, 2007 09:13 AM #11
Rainer
24,435
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC
ECO

Janeanne - Thanks for the comments and support!

Gary- Yeah,  I knew the blog was long but once I started writing it I could not stop. I cant believe you are just yellow/green with all those blogs you have written! 

Hi John- I expect you have seen your fair share of sprawl out in the Las Vegas area. Thanks for dropping by.

Joan - A balanced perspective is the key. Just getting everyone to the point is the trick!

Guy: I like that saying: "Anti Dumb Growth", its kind of catchy. In some parts of the country its miles and miles of homes joined only by 4 lane or 2 lane highways.

Cory: Working at Creston I know you do a alot of educating everyday.

 

May 02, 2007 10:46 AM #12
Rainmaker
336,351
Dena Stevens
Century 21 Canon Land & Investment - Canon City, CO
Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004

Bill, isn't it funny how a couple of ripples can great a wave? I posted My Ecobroker Certification #2 for the benefit of one person who was thinking of going to get certified. I didn't really think anybody would read it let alone comment on that post. Having said all that - we are all untitled to our opinions.  Who was it that said I disagree with what you say but I'll defend your right to say it to my dead?

Bringing awareness to our industry is a good thing. Building for the sake of building is going to kill us and our planet. So it's not anti- growth, it's controlled thoughtful growth in my mind that is the real conversation.

May 02, 2007 01:15 PM #13
Rainer
24,435
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC
ECO

Dena:

I was also surprised by the wave that caught your blog, especially Michael's comment. But he did generate quite a discussion, on a late Saturday even. And, of course, you Micahel, and Ines got me thinking about the whole concept of the Green Movement because it was too long ago that I would have put myself in the antigrowth camp. Thanks!  

May 02, 2007 03:52 PM #14
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Bill~

In terms of "Growth", I'd like to hear more about how the model of sustainable development plugs the community needs and desires in to the equation...Could you give me a couple sentences on that? THX

May 02, 2007 10:22 PM #15
Ambassador
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 Congratulations...A Gold Star has been awarded to you for May 1st in the Gold Star

..Look forward to more featured articles, too!

May 02, 2007 10:31 PM #16
Rainer
24,435
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC
ECO

Sustainable Development

HI Janeanne:

This is the graphic I would have put up with the blog but was unable. I did a little tweaking and got it. This is from the wikipedia link which really has a great write up on sustainable development. As you can see the concepts of growth being  bearable, equitable, and viable  among the community, economics, and the environment all interplay with each other to bring about sustainable growth. But it is up to the entire community to demand that all these areas get defined and that no one or two areaa are focused on to the exclusion of the other(s). Is this what you were looking for?   

May 03, 2007 09:05 AM #17
Anonymous
Anonymous
John Thomas

People are starting to realize,the status quo no longer functions.The paradigm is shifting.

May 03, 2007 03:56 PM #18
Rainmaker
41,293
Jay Burnham
Coldwell Banker - Beverly, MA
The Coldwell Banker Guy

Bill...thank you for the time and thought you put into your blog.  Whoever stated that the Green Movement was "anti-growth, anti housing, anti builder, anti developer, anti business, anti property owner's rights" was simply uninformed and hopefully will come to see the light rather than simply rant about things he does not understand.

Regards...Jay

May 03, 2007 07:50 PM #19
Rainer
24,435
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC
ECO

vJay:

You know I had the same thoughts that you did when I first read his blog, but it did get me thinking about how could someone come to the point where they actually had a perception that Green Movement was against so much. When I read further comments I could see where a lot of political stuff had also been thrown into the mix and  thats when things can get a bit distorted. Thanks for dropping by!  

May 04, 2007 06:39 AM #20
Ambassador
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Bill~

The chart you added to this post immediately gives an anchor for your article. Thank you.

May 04, 2007 09:55 AM #21
Rainer
10,834
Corey Atherton
Suncadia Real Estate Sales Company - Cle Elum, WA

Bill,
The chart is great.  I'm glad you came across that and added it to the blog. 

May 04, 2007 11:41 AM #22
Rainer
24,435
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC
ECO
Thanks Janeanne. I think the words bearable, viable, and equitable really help bring the concept of sustainable dveleopment more into prespective and make it a little easier to understand in regards to the Big Picture.  
May 06, 2007 02:15 PM #23
Rainer
9,902
Joseph Scarpa
Green Paradigm Realty LLC - Pennsville, NJ

I visited Ashville NC from Pennsville NJ specifically to attend the Southern Energy & Environment Expo (www.seeexpo.com); learned a lot regarding education initiatives to share back home.

I observed the Western North Carolina community to have a great culture and attitude towards collaborating and learning about sustainable development.

As a commercial REALTOR (LEED AP & EcoBroker), I have a sensible advocacy for growth and economic development.  The greenest building you can build is one that's already built. 

Great sites for re-using existing buildings are http://www.illinoishistory.gov/ps/index.htm , http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=221, and www.PreservationNation.org .

Western North Carolina and South Jersey have much to share with regard to sustainable development ... you should feel free to visit us at www.EnergyFreedomPioneers.com

Sep 06, 2008 10:38 PM #24
Rainer
24,435
Bill Westel
Eco-Steward Realty - Asheville, NC
ECO

Thanks fro stopping by Joesph. How did you like the Southern Energy & Environment Expo?

Sep 07, 2008 12:44 PM #25
Rainer
9,902
Joseph Scarpa
Green Paradigm Realty LLC - Pennsville, NJ

The Southern Energy & Environment Expo (www.seeexpo.com) is an event that all regions would do well to emulate.

Somewhat of a similar event, albeit more commercialized, is the Go Green Expo, coming in 2009 ... LA • Philadelphia • NYC • Atlanta • Dallas • Phoenix

For further archived info, see http://uli-la.org/urbanmarketplace/ which had "sustainability" as its them.

Sep 11, 2008 02:51 PM #26
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