The New York Times let us down this week when it uncritically recycled a report on green building that was clearly skewed by the interested party commissioning it. The study issued by the Commercial Real Estate Development Association attempted to call bluff on the sustainable building revolution “arguing that the green-building vision may be more of a myth,” wrote the Times. “You can make a building
more energy efficient, the group says, but it won’t come cheap, and it could take decades to pay off.” Improving a buildings’ energy efficiency by 50% is not only technically impossible, the report argued, but could take up to 100 years to return the millions of dollars of investment in efficiency technologies.
Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter deemed it “one of the dumbest studies that has crossed our screen in a
while” and equates the sophistication of its methodology to energy studies circa 1974. The analysis tested buildings in four different locations, however critics point out the commercial developer association neglected to change the building’s shape, orientation, or basic green techniques like shading, ventilation and landscaping.
Meanwhile, the Times article has sent Architecture 2030’s Ed Mazria into a justifiable rage. “Clearly, this study is meant to confuse the public and stall meaningful legislation, insuring that America remains dependent on foreign oil, natural gas and dirty conventional coal,” Mazria blasted on Architecture2030’s website. Mazria notes the report’s dangerous timing–two days before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on improving building energy code standards. “This disinformation campaign is obviously meant to stall, confuse and distort,” he says. Which, of course, is the last thing we need, just as we gain an Administration that gets green and is willing to put money behind it. Come on New York Times, it’s our job as journalists to always filter critically (check out David Case’s expose on BPA in Fast Company‘s January issue). Let’s make sure studies like these don’t make it past their press release.