Ecological Planning Standards

A beautiful green apple with an unseen worm hole, may be rotten to the core, not fit to eat.  A building, a product or a plan may get a green label, yet be far less than ideally sustainable and cost effective.
     True cost pricing for the whole life cycle is essential for sustainable  success, but requires qualitative evaluation of factors and issues left out of standards in current use .  Now we have a way to remedy that deficiency.
     Malcolm Wells, an early bioneer of green architecture and responsible planning, began developing a green rating standard in the 1960s and, by 1969, published a practical form featuring four degrees of negative and positive scoring factors.  Using the new form, you can evaluate the factors affecting any kind of project, product, process, activity or subjects.
     Also in the 1960s, pioneering ecotect Paolo Soleri and his apprentices began developing designs and plans for cities that reverse ecocidal damage and waste, by eliminating secondary causes, irresponsible design, anti-green construction, and urban-suburban sprawl.  Soleri's work opened the flood gates for bioethics and innovation for a sustainable civilization, but lacked a practical master plan for transition from our ungreen world to the ultragreen world of the future.
     One main advantage of the Greenbook standard is that the line items cover all the basics of what makes a plan, project, process, product or thing either green or anti-green.  Each of the qualifying categories covers a complex mix of basic and contributing causes, and effects.  Rating the benefits and/or impacts may seem too difficult without expert consultants, but this standard requires only a reasonable effort to access the best available data and determine the most likely benefit or harm.  We can use the new standard to define a sincerely green, reasonable effort.  Your scoring of each category listed may be imperfect, yet produce an evaluation good enough for protection of all generations.
     Wells used his form in an example featuring abandoned farmland. In that case (with negative impact numbers getting a minus sign), the rating variables were equivalent to:

1 = rarely/never, 2 = sometimes, 3 = often/usually, 4 = always/constantly

(See the link at the end of this section)

     The Greenbook rating form can be used for establishing true cost pricing and assessing environmental impacts, penalties, fines, tax rates and incentives.
     An inferior standard or code accepted as 'green enough' acts as a deadly institutional retro-virus in our cultural immune system, gradually destroying the society and the economy, the building industry, real estate markets and communities.  The Greenbook standard can even be used to create a new LEED Diamond certification standard.  It could also replace all the other standards and cure the codes.
     The new Green Planning Standard—plus life affirming ethics, effective reason, compassionate inspiration and creative problem solving—enables progress to sustainable success in a greener future as rapidly as possible. If you think not, consider this, while most of the building industry suffered stagnation and worse, green building increased by nearly 50% per year. Why the huge disparity? The confusion, limitations, complications, and builders' attitudes are aggravated by standards, codes, and regulations inadequate to the real scope of the problem. Now, consider this: harmful, wasteful, ugly buildings usually stand and degrade the quality of life for decades or centuries. Designers, builders, developers, planners, and policy makers need this alternative to overly complicated, existing standards and codes. We all do.
     The Greenbook toolkit and sustainability rating standard provide the essential qualifications for creating a green master plan for a successful future.  Yet, some may fail to sustain denial and selective inattention.  Real world examples may help them wake up and get sober.  The few that follow may be sufficient for a wake up call and reality check combined...
     The Chinese plan to double the area of their built environment by 2030.  With population and economic growth rates of India close to China's and the rest of the Third World catching up fast, that means doubling the amount of human habitat built over the last 5,000 years in 18 years.  That could double or triple the use of bricks, concrete, and pavement.  That means doubling or tripling the amount of carbon released in the production and use of bricks and concrete.  Bricks account for over 80 billion pounds of CO2 annually.  Depending on whose numbers you use, the amount of extra carbon dioxide (CO2)  released will equal from one to ten times the weight of the concrete itself. Though that means from over 1.6 billion to over 32 billion extra pounds of CO2 emissions yearly, until 2030 or beyond. The supply chain, production, and use of bricks releases over 80 billion pounds of CO2 annually. The CO2 emmissions accompany billions of tons of other greenhouse gases (GHG) generated by similar industrial processes, transportation, and construction support operations. Some of the other gases are poisonous, but total release of the methane frozen under the ocean floor and virtually locked in many millions of square miles of permafrost in the arctic tundra would cause the worst impact.
     Methane is nearly 22 times more potent than CO2. Releasing much more methane would finish killing the ocean's coral reefs with increasing acidity and cause acid-rain strong enough to finish off most land animals and plants for a million years. The average temperature would also rise to over 140° F. Yet, superior formulas for green concrete and unfired masonry have existed for thousands of years, with only a tiny fraction of the embodied energy and GHG impact of ungreen concrete. New, high performance substitutes are even better, but virtually suppressed.
     Another dire example is the environmental pollution and true cost of tar sand and oil shale mining and the conversion process for producing low grade fuel oil and gasoline. Far from being an affordable, green alternative to foreign oil, tar sand and oil shale are ecological nightmares worse than liquid oil and coal combined. They require excess use and pollution of groundwater and air and extended burning of fuel for transportation and power. The related propaganda helps to suppress the truth.
     The best alternative to oil shale, oil, coal, nuclear power and wind energy is electric solar power. Using bogus science, bad statistics, and lies to maintain the illusion of necessity, the corporate energy cartel makes you think that solar electric technology is inadequate. With optimal building efficiency and vehicle upgrades, solar photo-voltaic panels (made mainly from sand and recycled metal), mounted on rooftops and over parking lots, will provide more than enough electricity for all of humanity's future needs.
     Including energy efficiency upgrades of buildings, transportation, and industries in the calculations shows that the big power industry's projections of future demand are far above necessity and reality. For reference, as early as the 1960s, passive-solar design made buildings with 90% energy efficiency not only possible but more affordable than conventional buildings.
     We should also remember that war is basically ecocidal. Armor piercing projectiles made of nuclear waste, depleted uranium and plutonium, are vaporized and pulverized (powdered) by super hot explosion on impact. That process, and all the other toxic compounds and metals released into the environment during battles, is as bad as pollution gets. Plutonium loses only half its radioactive killing power over 240,000 years; and one microgram can go on killing and harming for almost twice as long as it moves through the biosphere, carried as dust in the wind, or as snow, in the rain or in living bodies.
     Long after battles and wars, the plague of land mines not only kills, cripples, mutilates and terrorizes innocent civilians, they make large areas of land unsafe for farming, organic or otherwise. The new Green Planning Standard gives us a way to effectively evaluate the anti-green elements of a weapon system, a tactic, a campaign strategy, a battle, a war, war crimes, and the true total costs of war and its "collateral" damage.
     Radical climate change and its destructive potentials are no longer debatable. For designers, planners, policy makers, developers, district attorneys, judges, and politicians, the green rating standard is essential, not optional. Ignoring it is aiding and abetting ecocide and, possibly, negligent mass homicide. Death is the result of both accidental and deliberate mass murder; and public officials, lawyers, and professional policy makers have no legal excuse for either. The same holds true for designers and builders.

The Greenbook Rating Form in PDF 8.5" x 14" format:

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Technical comments, suggestions, and contributions are welcome, and may be included in the ebook and paperback editions (with full acknowledgment). Thanks. M