Counties seek green housing alliance

March 4, 2008 12:17:08 AM PST
The FBI suspects an eco-terrorism group called Earth Liberation Front set fires at several vacant mansions under construction near Seattle on Monday. They're apparent protests against the builder's claim that these are earth friendly homes. Extreme measures? Yes, but these fires do raise questions about just how construction projects are classified as green.

Three homes destroyed, a seven million dollar loss, and one group claiming responsibility. The eco-terrorist group, Earth Liberation Front, left a sign in the ashes calling the homes not green, but black McMansions mansions.

"Our house on every level, all the way through right down to the knobs on the cabinets had sustainable recycled products in it," says home builder Grey Lundberg.

All of the 4,000-plus square foot homes were dubbed "green" by the builders.

"It can definitely be a slap in the face to the developers and maybe even discourage some people in the future from developing green homes," says Danny Beesley with Green Building Exchange.

Danny Beesley believes in the green movement. He works at the Green Building Exchange in Redwood City where developers can find the latest eco-friendly paints, woods and pavement. However, Beesley admits, calling something green doesn't always mean it is.

"There definitely needs to be some standards as to what a green home is," says Beesley.

Right now, there is no universal green rating checklist for homes built in the Bay Area or even the state. That's why San Jose is trying to change that.

"We just want to make sure that every home that's built in San Jose and every home that's renovated in San Jose is as green as possible," says Collin O'Mara, a San Jose clean tech strategist.

The city is trying to get in line with other communities like Alameda and San Rafael by adopting the Build It Green guide. It's a list of green standards established by a non-profit group to rate homes. But city strategists are pushing for more. They want San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties to form an environmental partnership by having the same green standards across the board.

"By having a regional consensus, and hopefully a statewide consensus soon, there'll be a clear standard so every family across the state will know how green their house is," says O'Mara.

While the counties are expected to announce the alignment this week, San Jose should have its new green policy in place by the fall.


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