Green is the color of grass, of new spring leaves, and of the rolling hills in The Sound of Music. Quite simply, it's the color of nature. But Green Is the Color of Money, also. So asserts the title of Academy Award-winning film director Ben Shedd's latest project, which strives to illustrate, through testimonial, just how cost-effective it can be to build an environmentally friendly place of business. Shedd's 33-minute case study for a high-performance sustainable building chronicles the development and erection of the Banner Bank Building at 10th and Bannock in downtown Boise.
To a casual viewer of the DVD, it's no summer blockbuster. It feels kind of like something that would run as a special on PBS or a public access station. Or maybe as a required—intentionally inspirationally themed—video for first-year construction management majors. But maybe you're the granola archetype: on the Al Gore bandwagon and believing the planet may one day explode from the excesses of human activity. This could be a short film for you, too. The real target, though, is clearly anyone who's the slightest bit involved in planning and/or raising a commercial city structure, from the guy who shovels out the first mound of earth, to the architect scribbling along the edge of her T-square, to the mayor, who is accountable for everything in his town.
Its concept is simple. Given the proper motivation, a team of intelligent designers can create a building that is healthy for both the green grass and the greenbacks. The film chronicles Boise developer Gary Christensen's path to creating the Treasure Valley's first-ever Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) CS PLATINUM-rated building, a prestigious honor granted by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Using one of his favorite books as a guidepost—Natural Capitalism, a text describing "the vast array of ecologically smart options available to businesses" (www.amazon.com)—Christensen set about the task of greening up his project. By implementing the simplest of steps, such as eliminating support columns in the center of his floor plans and cutting window framing and ceiling tiles to an exact fit with no leftover materials, building costs began to drop—and environmentally friendly design points began to rise.
By project's end, Christensen's team had spent only as much money as it would have to produce a building using conventional methods—and in the same amount of time. His structure now boasts ridiculously superior benefits over its traditional counterparts: 50 percent less energy use, 80 percent less water use and a 32 percent return on investment.
Christensen's charismatic arguments make a very persuasive case for going green. He took the time to weigh a cost-benefit analysis, and the choice was certainly clear.
"It really set me thinking," he said. "Why wouldn't I do that? Why shouldn't I do that?"
Though his words technically only pertain to the construction industry, Christensen's message can be applied anywhere. Read into your work a little more deeply; buck the status quo. If the potential for green-lighting an environment-friendly project comes along, don't go all Jerry Maguire and start shouting about seeing the money. Do a little research. It might just pay off.
Though it's specifically geared for those in the industry, anyone interested in new applications of environmentally responsible commercialism will benefit from watching Green is the Color of Money.
DVDs are available for purchase at www.deepgreen.tv for $45, which includes both the full 33-minute version of the film, as well as a condensed 14-minute quick look.