Friday, February 15, 2008

green restaurants

While reading through the NY Times last night I came across an article about the increasing number of green restaurants in New York City. See here. These restaurants practice green building techniques such as using recycled materials, green roofs (plants) and take it further by having their supplies delivered by trucks running biodiesel.

Whats inspiring is that most of these restaurants are being green for more than financial reasons. For all the talk of subsidies, tax credits and other incentives it’s refreshing to see people change their interaction with the environment for the simple fact that they believe in it. Some of these restaurants will still get financial compensation for meeting LEED certification, but the driving force is a belief in minimization their impact on the Earth.

Even better, Austin gets a mention on the second page of the article. We have always been progressive on the environment so this should not come as a surprise. The best example I can think of is Save Our Springs which deals with pollution making its way into the aquifer recharge zone. Its good to see that green building practices are becoming more commonplace.

As a personal example, the Starbucks around the corner from my apartment is an amazing green structure. The roof is covered with grass which helps moderate the temperature inside, reducing heating and cooling costs. The front awning has solar panels on top to provide electricity, and there are rainwater collection tanks to reduce the amount of water needed to keep the grass green.

The irony in this lies in that a lot of trees were cut down to make way for this shopping center, but on closer inspection care was taken to minimize the impact on the environment. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center (a few miles away) helped to design the project. It has proven to be a great test of how green building and development can work together.

Its examples like these that can make you feel a little better about how we interact with the environment. While our national policy is confusing and contradictory, its great to see action taken at a local level especially with respect to buildings. That and now I only have to drive three minutes to get an iced latte and coffee cake.

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