Letters to the Editor

Let’s demand the highest ‘green design’ | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Bainbridge Island is a leader in sustainability and green design. We have a number of architects, designers and community groups that work to create healthy, vibrant places. It’s brilliant. It’s something we all share and can celebrate.

For example, take a look at the Grow Community development sprouting up in Winslow: It meets stringent One Planet Living Program standards with highly efficient solar powered homes. The development is within walking distance of shops and transit and offers solar-powered cars for neighbors to share when longer trips are desired.

The new Bainbridge Island Museum of Art is another great example. While beautiful for many reasons, this new home for regional creative works serves as a small clean energy power plant. It uses both solar panels and a geothermal heat pump to produce its own clean electricity and like Kids Discovery Museum, it has a vegetated roof to minimize runoff. It will likely earn LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Another innovative green building is Wilkes Elementary School. Its geothermal technology is exposed in the media center so students can get a visual of the modern engineering hiding in the building walls and floor. Outside you’ll notice much of the pavement is different – it’s pervious. Instead of sealing the earth and carrying the goo that leaks from our cars into the Sound, the rain will slowly percolate through the pavement and process the toxins naturally. This is good news for those of us who like our seafood sans pollution. The architects in this project used The Living Building Challenge to guide their design.

But when I study the new shopping center proposal for Highway 305 and High School Road, my enthusiasm washes away with the dirty storm water. Visconsi, the Ohio-based development company behind the project, is, well, Ohio-based.

I wonder if the group values or fully understands the cultural health of our community over its desire for profit. Also, there’s very little LEED in Visconsi’s projects. I’m sure they have the potential for great green buildings, but extensive sustainability features aren’t much of a priority. They should be.

I tend to agree with the protesters. This sprawling mall feels like unnecessary overdevelopment. All of the proposed businesses already exist on the island.

And while we should encourage economic stimulus we should also demand the highest levels of health and sustainability in our building projects. When we do, we get treasures like Wilkes, BIMA and Grow. These serve as some of the best examples of our creative abilities and are wonderful investments for the health of our entire community. Let’s keep it that way.

CHRIS MCMASTERS

Bainbridge Island

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