Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Greening of Southie - Boston at Its Best

Clear crisp morning with low clouds moving quickly. Classic fall morning.

Last night I watched The Greening of Southie (South Boston) at our local, very hip Red River Theatre. It wasn't another downer environmental film (which I love by the way), it was a very enjoyable, interesting movie which I highly recommend. The movie was followed by a panel discussion by our local geek from the Jordan Institute, an architect and NH's most experienced green builder. The sell out crowd asked great green questions too.

The movie was about Boston building its first Gold LEED certified building at a time when the city didn't know how to spell LEED. You might think a movie about building a building sounds pretty boring, but the director did an excellent job mixing in the colorful workers (who couldn't spell green) with the dynamics of this state of the art green building invading the traditional neighborhood of South Boston. That was a take home message in and of itself - The new high income green wannabees displacing families who could no longer afford the upscale coming digs. This part actually left me unsettled. Is that progress?

Back to The Greening of Southie - I did enjoy the workers who were chosen for their hesitant embracing of "this green stuff". That was quite heart warming and the entertaining part of the movie. (otherwise it would be boring) The movie walked you through the LEED certification process and the different points you got for the green options you used. They were shooting for the Gold standard which meant getting 39 points.

The LEED certificatioin is not a perfect system, but it's a start. I was impressed at the steel being able to be 95% recycled content coming down from Maine. Why can't that be done everywhere? (that's why recycling your food cans and junk cars is so important) I was a little disappointed that more emphasis is not placed on insulation. After all , that is the most important part of energy saving. - which is at the core of carbon neutral buildings. They used recycled cotton batting instead of fiber glass but it looked like it was going into traditional 4 inch walls which seems like no big deal when you're sitting on a windy cold harbor. Apparently their operating energy costs were down by 50% compared to traditional buildings. So something worked. Could it have been even better? Probably.

Like all good movies they stumbled and there were moments of doubt and catastrophes (ripping up almost all the bamboo flooring because the adhesive didn't do its job would be catastrophe to me). But they prevailed in the end like most movies do.

I highly recommend this movie for all to see. Why traditional building continues is beyond me when green options can be the same price and the cost of operation is lower. Sounds like a no brainer to me. This would be a great movie for every town to have in their library.

So, if you're looking for some good to do today, purchase the DVD (if you can find it used, great). Then pass The Greening of Southie around to friends and after that, donate it to your town's or City's library.

Trailer - The Greening of Southie from Wicked Delicate Films on Vimeo.

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