Blog Action Day Post

EIP.jpgAccording to the Strib (“Scattering seeds of change on the web”), today is Blog Action Day. More than 15,000 bloggers are working to raise awareness about environmental issues. I was really hoping that Griff or Tracy would Do the Green Thing but time is running out so I guess I’ll have to do it myself.

Searching my brain (while sitting in a Council Meeting) for a Northfield-oriented environmental topic, I thought of St. Olaf College President David Anderson’s recent comments on the vision of the creation of a Green Business Park. Then I asked myself, what is a green business park?

Much of the discussion that I’ve heard in Northfield concerning green business parks has seemed to focus on a commercial park filled with so-called Green Businesses, or a concept that focuses on the desired tenants. Usually the vision includes a design or consulting firm, filled with bright, young, well-paid professionals steadily building a regional, national and international reputation for brilliant work. The concept builds appealingly on our existing asset of substantial intellectual capacity.

Another common vision of a green business park fits in with what I’ll categorize as the LEED standards, or a concept that focuses on construction techniques and materials. The details of this picture of a green business park include highly efficient HVAC systems, state of the art windows, doors, and envelope materials, an effort to cleanse 100% of stormwater (and in some cases, sewer water), on site, and maybe a Green Roof and solar panel or two.

A further step in the energy use and water reuse direction is the so-called Eco-Industrial Park, most famously illustrated by the Industrial Symbiosis in Kalundborg, Denmark. Here a collaboration of five independent industrial enterprises recycle water, exchange energy at a variety of levels, and recycle waste water. I first read about EIPs in Sustainable Architecture White Papers, from the Earth Pledge series on sustainable development.

A concept for green design and sustainable development that was perhaps even more stressed in various papers in this book was the quite familiar recycle/reuse. In the case of residential or commercial development, this approach is based on using existing infrastructure. If the project doesn’t include adaptive reuse of existing buildings, then the new buildings are connected to existing roads and curbs, water and sewer, electricity and gas, and neighborhoods and services.

A green business park is a very appealing idea. We have dozens, if not hundreds, of people in Northfield that have experience and/or ideas in sustainable development. Let’s be sure to include them in the discussion from the very beginning.


  1. John George said:

    There is so much todo going on in the other blogs, it is refreshing to have something positive to comment on. The whole concept of “going green” is a really good demonstration of stewardship. Before the industrial revolution and the rise of consumerism, a sustainable economy was just a way of life. It is more easily done in an agrarian society. It is more difficult and costly in our modern economy, but I think it is worth pursuing. Maybe those Amish folks have some lessons for us.

    Now, for just a little controversy. The statistics I have found show that the sum total of mankind’s contribution to the CO2 level in the atmosphere is about 3 1/2%. That being the case, I don’t think our efforts are going to have much effect on the climatic changes we are seeing. We may not be able to reverse them, but I think that developing more dependence on renewable resources has got to be good. I love traveling through northern Iowa and seeing the wind farms working there. I also love to see the Carleton and St. Olaf windmills generating away. Maybe we can see more of these in our community in the future. As we invest more in this industry, the cost effectiveness has got to move to the positive side sometime.

    October 18, 2007
  2. Having grown up in a polluted city, during a time of big steel and big cars,
    anything that improves air quality is a good enough reason to go green in my
    book. While I don’t care for some shades of green, most will do just fine.

    October 19, 2007