Small steps with a big impact

I just ran across the online magazine Environmental News & Views.  There Susie Glass makes a pitch for owners of commercial buildings to work through the LEED process and make their properties more energy-efficient. I have no doubt that they should do so. The rest of us, meanwhile, can also do the right thing by Planet Earth. Please keep reading for my response to Glass’s article.

Let’s assume that you are right about the relative impact of energy waste by commercial buildings. Assume that we start today to plan the retrofitting of the spaces we rent or own. Efficiency improvements are still months or years ahead of us. Yet there are things we can do today to reduce our contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Each of us directly controls the energy we use for transportation. When we take the bus or train to work, when we walk or bike to the supermarket or neighborhood sports bar, each of us avoids throwing burnt petroleum into the air as carbon gases.

Yes, if you own a building you should paint the roof white and do all the other things the LEED process teaches. But while you act on the big things, don’t neglect the small steps that, aggregated over a population of millions, will have a more immediate impact. Where have you walked or biked today?