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Compliance models equal nonsense


The local state community college just opened a satellite campus five miles from my house. This afternoon, while on a bike ride, I headed over to check it out.

The college website loudly proclaims that the campus is “being built to rigorous LEED environmental standards.”

Ah, yes, LEED standards. It seems like every government building is adhering to them. OK. But how do those standards look in practice?

Since today was a holiday, the building was closed. This allowed me to have an unhampered ride around campus. One thing caught my eye: white signs spaced out on the sidewalk and around the building — signs similar to those informational signs blotting the view at zoos, parks, etc. I stopped to read each in turn.

Every sign had a statement proclaiming some environmental benefit due to the design of the building and campus. And each statement was contradicted by the reality around it.

Note this one, especially the claim that “[t]rees planted on the south side of the building shade the building and can reduce energy use for air conditioning up to 70%, reducing fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions.” (OK, they did use “can.”)

Now here are the trees. See if you can find the energy-reducing shade, or any shade for that matter.

Another sign proclaimed the benefits of riding and walking instead of using a car when making trips of two-miles or less, especially benefits derived by those too young and too old to drive.

Here are the ten of the 20 bike spots located near the shadeless south wall. Please note that there are not even 25 houses within two miles of this campus, a campus located in a large office complex served by US Highway 23.

I doubt that any bike rack will ever see bike and lock, especially from those too young and too old to drive.

Keep in mind that LEED is based on a compliance model. Install bike racks and riders will come. Plant small, lonely, almost leafless trees and shade will spontaneously block the sun on hot, hazy, 90 degree days.

Rigorous standards? Hardly. Applied nonsense? Absolutely.

Applied nonsense — the definition of government in practice.


Jim Fedako

Jim Fedako, a business analyst and homeschooling father of seven, lives in the wilds of suburban Columbus. Send him mail.

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