Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shades of green

photo of Spring leaf out
© harrington
Most of Minnesota is under Very High and Extreme fire danger ratings. Farmers are in the fields. Spring has arrived in Minnesota and you have arrived at My Minnesota. Thanks for coming. There's a good sized brush pile on the property awaiting the lifting of burning restrictions. On the way out to do an errand, the SO and I noticed several charred areas that probably weren't intentional controlled burns. On the way back from doing that errand, we spotted a pair of swans on an out-of-the-way pond nearby. I'd been watching for swans in the Carlos Avery pools and had been disappointed that I hadn't seen any. I doubt there's anyone who doesn't think that swans add class to the neighborhood. The "greening up" that you see in the picture isn't nearly enough to keep grass fires, once started, from quickly spreading out of control. As Spring progresses, and the ice melts in lake Mille Lacs, the greens will spread and deepen and the burning restrictions disappear like fog on a sunny day. Have you ever taken some time to notice how many different shades (colors?) of green there are in the Spring? Different trees leaf out on different schedules; there are different species of grass with various blade shapes and kinds of green. Have you pondered why all this variety exists? Tree leaves don't have a particular reason that I can envision to exist in the variety they do. There's crowns and understory and strategies for capturing and storing sunlight through photosynthesis. I get that, but it still doesn't give me any real insight why nature might not have accomplished the same thing with just one or two shades of green. I find myself wondering also if different shades of green are good for nature, might not a variety of shades of green building programs also be good for us? I'm not suggesting greenwash, but if some programs are focused on affordable housing, as they are, and others on local building markets, as some are, and others on the top 25% of buildings, as one is, are we better served than if there were only on system? I would think so if we had a better equivalency or correspondence among the programs and if they represented full coverage potential for our building stock. Right now it's challenging, to say the least, to find a green rating system for a moderate rehabilitation or renovation of a moderate-priced single family house. Some of us are working on that. I like to think it may be the equivalence of finding and ecological niche that needs filling. What's your take? If we have miles per gallon and car fax for our vehicles, shouldn't we have something comparable for our homes? Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.