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Look to the East

7/12/2005 12:00:00 AM


We Westerners tend to think we’ve got it all going on when it comes to green living in general, and green building in particular. During NH&G’s early days, the magazine focused heavily on the established eco-hubs: Austin, Santa Fe, Berkeley, Boulder. So it was great to be reminded of the East Coast’s underappreciated vibrancy in all things green when I visited there last week.

On Martha’s Vineyard I found a thriving farmer’s market, featuring organic island produce and local artisans’ work, as well as a burgeoning Slow Food convivium. In Boston, where we stopped for a pilgrimage to Fenway Park (and a very expensive opportunity to watch the Red Sox get clobbered by the Blue Jays), we stayed at The Lenox, a hotel in the heart of the city with the motto “Serving You & The Environment.” In lieu of Gideons, our room’s desk drawer offered up The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices and The Bottom Line of Green is Black by Tedd Saunders and Loretta McGowen. From energy-management systems and water-saving fixtures to the purchasing of recycled materials and local food (and beyond), the hotel’s environmental commitment shines.

Back home on Sunday, catching up with The New York Times, I read about Robert Congel, a commercial real estate developer in upstate New York who plans to “change the world” with Destiny U.S.A., a $20 billion environmentally friendly “retail city.” Congel promises the mall—powered solely by solar, wind, fuel cells, and other forms of alternative energy—will be a new model for green commercial development and will jump start renewable energy markets nationwide. That remains to be seen. What’s undisputable is that this is one of the most exciting developments in green building that I’ve seen in ages. And it ain’t happening in Austin.

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