Monday, August 01, 2005

DestiNY Greening?

As a follow on to my post from July 22nd on Wal*mart's efforts to include renewable energy and sustainable design in its McKinney, TX Supercenter, the effort to create a "Green Mega-Mall" in upstate NY merits some attention.

I first learned of Robert Congel's DestiNY project a few years ago as I started reading about real estate development and land use impact on transportation and energy use. Soon after, I visited the Rocky Mountain Institute in Old Snowmass, CO while visiting family in Aspen. I was fortunate enough to receive a tour of their facility by Huston Eubank. I contacted Mr Eubank some months later about the DestiNY project, raising questions about projects of this scale being "sustainable" by definition. After all, one of his co-workers at the time, Joel Swisher, is the co-author of Small is Profitable. He was kind enough to send me a short note with a copy of the design charrette review booklet from the DestiNY planning meetings. His remarks, drawn from experience I someday hope to have, helped me understand the compromises needed to make the incremental changes that lead to a sustainable project. In a nutshell, if we are not at the table (or in the room for that matter) for a project, we have no chance to make an impact.

The concept is fascinating; take a under-utilized and partially contaminated site in Syracuse, NY and build a tourist and business development mega-center that strives to integrate renewable energy from demolition (the bulldozers will run on biodiesel) to construction to use. The vision is grand, and on the scale that appeals to politicians' and developers' desire for legacy creation through economic development. What will happen when it opens? Will it work? Will it be the economic driver for the region? Will people frolic around it as shown in the artists' renderings?

Grist Magazine (carried by Sustainablebusiness.com as well) covered an investor symposium hosted by the Congels back in February. With grounded skepticism, the article offers some good insights into the sky high "market moving" goals of the project. As Thomas Leyden from Powerlight Corporation was quick to point out, "It may be the biggest solar installation and renewables project in the world, but there's no way DestiNY will move markets to that extent within a decade, or even move markets in any substantial way." Leyden pointed out that Germany is adding 600 to 800 MW of solar a year and Japan is in the same ballpark -- meaning that DestiNY is a drop in the bucket in terms of global economies of scale. "Nevertheless," he quickly added, "I applaud Congel's vision, and want to be a part of it."

I have a fundamental problem with large scale projects like this. Is it thorough in its analysis of transportation access, costs, and environmental impact over the long term? What is the life cycle of this structure? How will communities around the development fare? Many of these questions can not be answered definitively, and only the execution of the project will reveal the successes and failures that I am sure will come along with the project.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It’s a pleasure to read your post …. Interesting!

line of credit home equity site that covers line of credit home equity related stuff.

Anonymous said...

It's Time to Talk Trash
Steve Hall from AdRants asks: "Hey Steve, when do you actually work?" Steve, bubbie, speaking engagements ARE work.
Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a russian girl site/blog. It pretty much covers russian girl related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with your post. Hey check this out--you're going to love this site. Visit this home business opportunity site!

Anonymous said...

Google Pushes Deeper Into Microsoft Software
Google Inc. has launched a tool that lets subscribers to its blog-hosting service write and post blogs directly from Microsoft Word, a move that reflects the search engine's determination to stake its claim on ...
Hey, rockin' blog! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a pherlure review review site. I review pherlure review that are proven to work to attract women.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Blogs are very popular these days. I think you can potentially make the top 10. Go for it!

I have a Job Search site. I think it will eventually cover all things about Job Search .

Stop by if you get the change. : - )

Anonymous said...

Wake Up And Smell The Blog
While I've had no problem with my Dell Inspiron 8600 over the past two years I've had it, Jeff Jarvis entered Dell Hell a while ago which got so bad he had to write a letter to Dell Chief Marketing Officer ...
Good blog, keep up the great work.
I have a debt site/blog. It pretty much covers debt related stuff.
Check out mine sometime if you have a chance!

Anonymous said...

Your Blog site is fantastic. Thanks and keep up.
YOU Too Can Learn About Used Car For Sale With Ease!
Check out this site Used Car For Sale