Gray Lady Stays Gray

Looks like the Times, which so often talks the talk, is having a little bit of a harder time walking the walk when it comes to their own, new, Renzo Piano/Fox & Fowle-designed building they’re getting ready to move into in 2007. While LEED certification generally seems about as compelling a conversation topic as our deep thoughts, in this case it just seems endemic of the larger problem with the whole LEED certification. In our limited environmental experience, we’ve found that it’s one of the architectural scenarios fullest of rhetoric and lackingest in reality. The New York Observer agrees that it’s kind of unfortunate.

The decision by The Times and Forest City puts Mr. Piano, an acknowledged environmentalist, and even more so Mr. Fowle, a pioneer in sustainable buildings, in an awkward spot. Mr. Fowle’s firm designed the Helena and 4 Times Square, which is widely acknowledged as the city’s first green office building.

For the Times headquarters, Messrs. Piano and Fowle will place hundreds of ceramic tubes on the outside walls of the building, running horizontally, which will keep sunlight from heating the structure. Computerized louvers will turn up to varying degrees depending on the time of day and angle of the sun, and the building will burn its own natural gas for electricity and use the excess heat to create steam and hot water.

But no longer will contractors be required to keep track of how much of the construction debris is recycled, which is a big component–and hassle–of certification.

We’re not sure what to think; seems kinda worth a hassle to save the world. But that could just be our Thursday morning idealistic side.

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