Living in California, designing buildings in California, all I hear about nowadays is 'Green Design'. We're just about at the point where buildings are only being judged on the merits of their LEED points, while there's almost no mention of whether they're beautiful or if they add to the overall quality life of the people who use them. Over the next couple of months, I'm going to be sounding off about this subject frequently enough, mostly concerning myself with the architectural implications of this new fad.
Today, I READ THIS ARTICLE about a yet another little 'green car'. "The Zenn, or 'Zero Emission, No Noise' vehicle, is a three door hatchback with a range of up to 35 miles and an 80 percent recharge time of 4 hours."
Are you kidding me?. Only 35 miles? I guess that goes to show you that Buddhism doesn't get you very far.
From the ZENN WEBSITE, (sorry,it's Flash...when I rule the world it will be illegal to have a flash driven site.) we learn that the purely electrical Zenn is "designed to meet neighborhood and urban transportation needs, the regulated maximum speed...is 25mph. As such its intended use is busy urban areas, lower speed roads and places like gated communities and campuses where speed is neither necessary, desirable or safe."
The real question is: where the hell are you driving within a gated community, anyway? To the tennis court? Oh that's saving the earth, alright. Are you supposed to drive one from your dorm room to your classroom rather than walking? You betcha, that 'conserves energy'. Someone in the Zenn marketing department needs to learn that something is always more than nothing.
There are a lot of these little electric vehicles in California, especially in Santa Barbara where it has become quite chic to drive environmentally friendly cars around town and then leave your 18 fireplaces running 24/7 just so your little toe-sies don't chill when you arrive home from 2 months at your other mansion. I'm not exaggerating. It happens. A lot.
In urban areas (as they are now), I almost see the purpose. Currently, we have to drive to everything. But if cities were designed well, there would be no need to drive at all to get to the necessities of life, because neighborhoods would be walkable, and would contain within them the schools, groceries, police stations, health clinics, etc. that are requisite for the health, safety and wellbeing of residents.
I am not advocating that we get rid of cars, but rather that we should get rid of our utter dependence upon them. Then, these little glorified golf carts like the Zenn would be totally unnecessary. Vehicular emissions problems are not caused by our travel on interstates and highways. The vast majority of superfluous emissions come from our 4 mile trips to the grocery store to buy milk. Eliminate the need for that trip by designing mixed-use neighborhoods and cities, and all those emissions will disappear, not to mention we'll live in nicer neighborhoods and actually get to know our neighbors.
That would be a truly 'green' move.