EUROPEAN MAIN STREETS THRIVE
Europe's strict planning, green belt laws, lack of space, and pride in heritage help Main Streets thrive and protect undeveloped countryside. Eighty percent of the UK's retail sales are conducted in towns, compared to 4% in the United States. But preservation has a downside, including higher prices for goods and possibly unemployment. Nevertheless, Britain and other European countries have recently imposed sharp restrictions on big malls and superstores introduced in the more laissez-faire 1980s that ruined some town centers. -The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 1995, B1, by Dana Milbank.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE LINKED AGAIN
Another study positively links companies' environmental performance and financial returns-this one conducted by the Washington DC-based Investor Responsibility Research Center and Mark A. Cohen, a professor at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management. The study compared the S&P 500 companies within the same industry-oil companies with other oil companies, for example-over a four year period. The researchers found that in over 80% of the comparisons the "low pollution" portfolios performed better than the "high pollution" portfolios. This study highlights environmental leaders in polluting industries that carry greater environmental burdens, rather than pitting light industry against more polluting sectors. -The Green Business Letter, May 1995, p. 3.
DAYLIGHTING AND PRODUCTIVITY AT LOCKHEED
In the mild San Francisco Bay Area climate, lighting uses over half the energy consumed in commercial buildings. Architects at Leo A. Daly used daylight to save energy in Lockheed Martin's new Building 157, but the architect's primary objective was to use daylighting strategies to improve the work environment. With attention to building layout and orientation, window placement, glazing selection, ceilings, light shelf design, and a "litetrium" feature, the designers diffused daylight deep into the office space and eliminated direct sunlight. The building uses just 20,000 Btu/sf/yr, half the energy use allowed under the 1980 California energy code. Lockheed says that productivity gains in the first year of occupancy offset the extra $2 million building cost. –Solar Today, May/June 1995, p. 26, by Burke Miller Thayer.
DENMARK'S GREEN TAXES
Denmark unveiled a package of "green taxes" in early April to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% of 1988 levels by 2005. The program, gradually increasing taxes for carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions, is likely to pass Parliament. Revenue from the new taxes, estimated at $435 million in the year 2000, will be refunded to industry through lower employer taxes. -In Business, March/April 1995, p. 11.
The American Lung Association's Health House '94 in suburban Chanhassen, Minnesota is a prototypical speculative home designed by LHB Engineers & Architects. The house integrates an impressive array of healthy features and energy efficient technologies. But the paradox of Health House and its suburban context underlies the broader issues of environmental design. The gasoline burned to reach work and shopping compromise the energy savings gained from its low embodied energy materials and good solar orientation. -Architecture Minnesota, May/June 1995, p. 17, by Scott Newland.
CANADA'S HOME ENERGY STANDARDS GET TOUGHER
Canada's R-2000 program sets home energy standards. Canada's conventional building code has kept up with the pacesetting R-2000 standards, but last year pushed the R-2000 standards further. Changes to the R-2000 program modify calculation of the energy performance target, enhance indoor air quality, and add water conservation and recycled building material requirements. One measure of R-2000's success is that others are copying it. The State of Minnesota is now considering R-2000 standards. -Home Energy, May/June, p. 8, by Ted Rieger.