The Oregon Sustainability Center: Topping off the list of ‘green’ embarrassments

The author has his biases, as do we all, and his are on full display in this piece. I won’t parse his entire screed; he is, after all, entitled to his own angry little opinions.

I merely will raise three points.

1. Mr. Carson states that “the downtown core already has chronic problems with vacancies.” Vacancies, by themselves, are not a problem. Indeed, the reverse is true: a lack of vacancies would be a major problem to any metro area. with no inventory of office space to lease, a city would find itself unable to accommodate growth of existing businesses or attract new ones. this begs the question: is Portland’s vacancy rate terrible by comparison to other American cities? In a word, no. According to a widely-cited study by Reis Services, LLC, Portland’s office vacancy rate stands at 14.7 percent, which positions it as the 22nd lowest out of 132 markets in the nation. Now, I’m not saying 14.7 is ideal, but in the depths of our post-recession economy, I suspect there are about 110 other downtown markets in the U.S. that wouldn’t mind having our vacancy rate.(ref: reisreports.com/Markets/Oregon/Portland/Office/)

2. I have long been a “sustainability” doubter. when I first started hearing of it in the 1990s, I thought it was just the latest trend on which the trendy could clamber aboard. “It’s a luxury,” I told myself. “No real business, subject to stakeholders, will embrace it,” I believed. I was wrong. I’m in the consulting business, largely environmental consulting, but others in our company design manufacturing plants and power plants; office buildings and hospitals. we have industrial and commercial clients world wide and in every state in the nation. more and more of our industrial clients are integrating sustainability into their mission statements and requiring us to involve an assessment of sustainability in decision processes. Those who were talking about it in the 1990s were correct and those who dismissed it, as I did and as Mr. Carson does here, are wrong. Here is the key, which I came to understand after having client after client explain it to me: sustainability only appears to be a luxury if you ignore elements the total cost and effect of an action. and that’s the problem. Many of the decisions we make as a society, from energy development to (lack of) industrial policy, from agricultural policies to governing our natural resources, fail to fully account for the economical and societal effects on things like natural resources. Water resources. Biological diversity. I recognize to some, possibly like Mr. Carson, that this sounds “socialistic” and that people who think in this way are but “sheep.” Well, I have to respond to my client’s demands, and in the real marketplace at this time, sustainability is an emerging factor in corporate and governmental decision-making. Ignore it at your risk.

3. I recognize Mr. Carson must be getting on in years (his bio informs us that he seems to be “former” everything and currently, well, something else to be later named), but Portlandia is satire. It’s supposed to be funny and outrageous. It’s a joke. sometimes funny. sometimes not. You know what, Mr. Carson? The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report return this week with new programming. Please don’t confuse them with real news broadcasts. Similarly, please don’t confuse Portlandia with a documentary.

The Oregon Sustainability Center: Topping off the list of ‘green’ embarrassments


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