Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fertile Federal Building

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Don't know if y'all saw this but the General Services Administration Building in Portland is apparently getting a green makeover. One that includes fins.

From a NYTimes story:

As part of a $133 million renovation, the General Services Administration is planning to cultivate “vegetated fins” that will grow more than 200 feet high on the western facade of the main federal building here, a vertical garden that changes with the seasons and nurtures plants that yield energy savings.

The architects are still trying to figure out all the logistics, such as irrigation and pruning, but the GSA estimates a savings of $280,000 annually in energy costs.

But it's not without controversy.

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RENDERING BY SERA ARCHITECTS

The renovation is being funded with federal stimulus money, and Republican senators have included the project on a list of worst stimulus-financed projects.

Again, from the NYTimes:

Joe Vaughan, a longtime commercial real estate broker here, said that the building’s office space would ultimately cost more per square foot than some other environmentally-conscious projects that are built new.

“As a taxpayer, I think it’s a horrible waste of money that no private developer would undertake,” Mr. Vaughan said.

To me, that's sort of a reason for the government to do it. Let's face it, most private developers don't have the luxury of beta testing expensive technologies. But the only way for those technologies ultimately to become less expensive (and more commonplace) is to work with them.

Even if it fails, you can learn what not to do. Maybe an expensive lesson, but if the federal government is going to be spending billions of dollars elsewhere on roads and whatever else, we might as well learn what we can.

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