Month 9, Day 27: I’d Live There Even If They Didn’t Pay Me

The Times ran a piece on “Passive Houses,” which require little or no outside energy sources. They included some notes on the problems these buildings face from outdated building codes and government incentives that often don’t address or include these forms of construction…yet another way we collectively shoot ourselves in the feet.

As they struggle with outdated regulations and official incomprehension, proponents of “passive houses” face an uphill battle. It is axiomatic that bureaucracies are resistant to change, and when the bureaucracies in question are staffed by political appointees (who are often beneficiaries of the largess of fossil fuel industries) it would be naive to expect that resistance to fade in the face of facts. The predicament of builders and contractors seeking energy-neutral alternatives to conventional residential construction is just one facet of a systemic problem, best encapsulated in Sinclair Lewis’ apothegm, “It is difficult to convince a man of something if his paycheck depends on his not understanding it.” As America faces the challenges of Peak Oil and global climate change, we are going to have to do a far better job of convincing all of those whose paychecks are contingent on their unwillingness to recognize our collective peril.

Warren Senders

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