Let’s discuss “Green” housing and renovation

I’m driving up and down Brown Street- trying to imagine it without the Frank Z building. The thought depresses me. Just like I miss the old churches in the Oregon District that are gone, like I miss the terra cotta tiles on the gas station/tire store that was there before the Cooper Lofts- I miss the old Todd Burlesque theater- and even the Art Theater on Wayne. And while the new Litehouses on Patterson certainly look better than the parking lot- I worry about the fate of other buildings- like Canal Street- and the old Etman’s Photo across the street.

Old timers miss Steele High School, and the old library downtown. I remember the massive Rikes- which got replaced by the Schuster- which still makes me feel like I’m inside an ant farm in the “Winter garden.”

We’re on a demolition binge in the city- in a race to tear down houses faster than the arsonist torch them. Of course, City Commissioner Nan Whaley leads the charge (thanks to big donations from a demolition contractor) and being elected as a mere renter. Leave no old house standing, yet, the neighborhoods that are doing the best- are the ones where we’ve made it near impossible to tear things down- the Historic Districts.

Turns out, they may have been on to something- it’s actually possible to do the math that recycling housing can be a lot “greener” than the new ones with all their fancy LEED certifications:

Historic preservationists say renovating an old building is almost always better for the environment than framing up a new one. You don’t add to sprawl by taking up more land. And, you don’t waste all the energy and resources, like wood and metal, already in existing buildings. But people don’t often equate old buildings with “going green.”

via This old house may be the greener one | Marketplace From American Public Media.

Considering the population isn’t growing, it seems the main reason for demolition is to artificially prop up values by decreasing inventory (and to funnel money into donors’ pockets). Yet, the way the market works best is when the values are allowed to drop- and opportunity arises. I bought my 1,800 sq ft Victorian for $14,500 in 1986- as a young lad, because I could afford it- and the upgrades it needed to become a home. This home, my office, and my cottages all could have been demolished had they not had historic zoning protection- and those nutcase people who don’t believe that tearing everything down is the solution.

I look at the “University Place” building at Stewart and Brown- built by Miller Valentine- and dread what they will build to replace the regal Frank Z. I look at the Sonic on Wilmington (and everywhere else around town) and think- we had one at Stewart and Brown- it was called Frish’s and it was the real deal. There will never be another Dominic’s- which was hacked together using three houses and who knows what else- and we use excuses like ADA requirements, and modern building codes to stifle redevelopment- but what are we really doing? Filling landfills with perfectly usable resources. That’s why the deconstruction business is booming- yet, the market for re-use of these materials still hasn’t quite developed.

Is it time to start encouraging reuse of at least the materials for new construction- like we do with paper: “The building contains 30% post construction materials”- or requiring removing x numbers of vacant square footage in order to add y square footage to our community inventory? The Frank Z building’s facade couldn’t be rebuilt for a million dollars- and will just end up in a landfill- why don’t we have incentives to  at least keep it- and for re-using materials from the sprawling back of the building?

Green isn’t always new. Green is what we do with what we have too.

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15 Responses

  1. Jeremy December 5, 2010 / 10:00 pm
    Good post, but I’d like it a lot more if you hadn’t implied that people who don’t own homes shouldn’t be elected to public office. While I absolutely agree that Dayton needs more responsible home-owners, on a more national scale the cult of home ownership for all has turned out to be a pretty big disaster for our country and our economy, and a lot of people who were misled about just how risky the whole affair is. As long as we’ve got these ridiculous foreclosure fraud artists scamming people out of their homes without punishment, I won’t be participating in that world. I’ll buy a house when I can buy one with cash, but that’s going to take a few more years of saving.
    Your dig at Whaley as a “mere” renter reminds me of the tea party reactionary talk about how the founders only ever intended property owners to be allowed to vote, and we should get back to that. It’s grotesquely undemocratic and nasty–I have as much time for it as I do suggestions that we shouldn’t elect atheists, or jews, or gays, or any other group to public office. It detracts from an otherwise excellent article.

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  2. Jeff Dziwulski December 6, 2010 / 4:51 am
    I was on a series of road trips to the East Coast over the fall, and one of the places I visited was the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, better known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area (overnighting in downtown Scranton).

    This region did the opposite of what the Dayton area did during the post WWII era, it stopped growing and actually declined in population, and still is,  albeit at a shallower slope than in the 1940, 50s, and 60s. 

    Given this demographic collapse and population flat-lining one would except a lot of vacant housing and demolished neighborhoods and nearly empty old neighborhood business districts.  Amazingly enough that was not the case!  I specifically went looking for evidence of this, in neighborhoods that would be somewhat equivilant, geographically, to the empty acres of Dayton.   Scranton and some nearby old mining towns are suprisingly intact, with a minimum of vacancy and housing demolition (there was some very very limited evidence of this).

    Apparently the people who stayed in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area just kept on recycling the existing housing stock with minimal suburban sprawl.  Yes there was some postwar suburbia between the mining towns between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, but it was more connecting already built-up areas and development up in the surrounding mountain ranges vs the wholesale suburbanization of entire townships one sees in the Dayton area.

    It’s also notable that the older neighborhood shopping areas (Akin to Xenia Avenue or Valley & Troy) are still somewhat occupied, too, with various types of local retail, including one little lunch counter that boasts of being in business since the1920s (the “Keystone Lunch”, or something.).

    It was really, really interesting to see an alternative to what Dayton is becoming, in a city that is also ostensibly a dying city (according to one of those Forbes lists).  Folks, mass urban abandonment and demolition doesn’t have to happen when a metro area hits zero population growth.

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  3. David Esrati December 6, 2010 / 9:13 am

    @Jeremy, I don’t have a problem with renters- but I do have a problem with someone who takes large sums of a money from a Westerville Demolition contractor- who has no roots, no investment in the city- and yet- claims to be able to represent us.

    She is now a home owner- finally- but- realistically, without the support of the crooks in the Democratic party- she’d never have been elected in the first place.

    She’s never had a job that hasn’t been thanks to the party- she’s not vested in this community- yet she has no problem tearing it down wholesale.

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  4. Ice Bandit December 6, 2010 / 4:14 pm
    While I absolutely agree that Dayton needs more responsible home-owners, on a more national scale the cult of home ownership for all has turned out to be a pretty big disaster for our country and our economy, and a lot of people who were misled about just how risky the whole affair is. (Jeremy)

    Nosireee, dear Jeremy, the cult of home ownership, the Old Bandito assures you, is still alive and well. What went wrong, in you will indulge a somewhat contrary opinion, was when Uncle Sam developed a Elliot Spitzer like affection and compulsion for a hooker named Fannie Mae. In essence, Uncle Sugar Daddy rewrote the laws of banking to compel these institutions to float housing loans to anyone with a body temperature. And when the inevitable bubble detonated, as all ideas of Ponzi and Keynes must, the result was a a three foot layer of compost all over the economy. Fact is, dear Jeremy, the static economy is not a reflection of a flaw in the American fabric, but the result of a government arrogant enough to think it can defy the laws of economics and human nature by passing out other people’s money to the unworthy without consequence. Props for your plan to defer home ownership until you’re financially solid. But before Uncle Sam decided to fix what wasn’t broken, the formula of 20 percent down on a starter in the burbs was boilerplate. And the Old Bandito’s compassion reservoir is completely dry to the would-be home buyers whom you portray as misled victims. Sure, Latin has been out of style for 40 years, but even the public schools have to teach the concept of caveat emptor…….

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  5. Thanks for the mam... memories December 6, 2010 / 4:20 pm
    David,
    I miss the the old Todd Burlesque theater- and even the Art Theater on Wayne, too.

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  6. David Lauri December 6, 2010 / 10:17 pm
    I’d like it a lot more if you hadn’t implied that people who don’t own homes shouldn’t be elected to public office

     
    If you don’t like David E implying that, Jeremy, you probably really won’t appreciate Tea Party Nation president Judson Phillips saying outright that he thinks “it makes ‘a lot of sense” to restrict voting only to property owners.” Phillips goes on to say:

    If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners.

     

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  7. Civil Servants Are People, Too December 6, 2010 / 11:03 pm
    Is it time to start encouraging reuse of at least the materials for new construction- like we do with paper: “The building contains 30% post construction materials”

    I think this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever seen on this site!
     
    Jeremy’s point is well taken.  We have to slow down the sprawl.  It can be done.  I suppose that’s the only good thing to come out of this recession…
     
    BTW, check this one out:
    http://www.savethewindows.org
     

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  8. David Esrati December 7, 2010 / 9:35 am

    @David L- thanks for throwing me in with the wack job tea party. I’m all for restricting access to the ballot box- you have to prove you own a brain first.

    @CSAPT- OMG- a compliment? Are you OK?

    And- to all of you- I always love when I get the bozo ratings- if you really thought what I write is bozo-ific, you wouldn’t be clicking over to read it.

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  9. Bubba Jones December 7, 2010 / 11:32 am
    >>>  And- to all of you- I always love when I get the bozo ratings- if you really thought what I write is bozo-ific, you wouldn’t be clicking over to read it. <<<
     
    I like reading it because it’s usually good for a laugh!! :)
     
     

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  10. Jeff Dziwulski December 7, 2010 / 5:09 pm
    I think this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever seen on this site!

    I think re-use of materials is one of the criterea that is used to determine if a building gets a LEED rating, or one of the things that earn LEED points.

    The idea of restricting voting for property tax levys to property owners is probably do-able and is also probably consitutional since they already do this in California.   Taking it one step further one could determine ones share of a vote for property tax levys based on the valuation of the property, and one could expand voting on property tax levys to people or entities who own property in a city or township or county, but live outside of the taxing jurisdiction.  That way all those affected by a property tax would have a say in that tax, based on the amount they would have to pay.  Sort of akin to shareholder votes in corporation, which is determine by the volume of stock ownership

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  11. Ice Bandit December 7, 2010 / 7:29 pm
    @David L- thanks for throwing me in with the wack job tea party (David Esrati)

    …and just what, dear David, Tea Party messages do you think are the wackiest? The ones that advocate limited and constitutional government? Or that suggestion that the elected are the people’s servants and not their masters? Or that the electorate resents a government that uses the force of law to interfere with every interaction from what light bulbs they can purchase to what type of oil Old Colonel Sanders can fry his chickens. Or that a organization that shakes down the electorate for 50 percent of what they earn should at least provide schools that educate. No bout adout it, dear David, on the 12 point wacky scale all the aforementioned rank at least a 10. But know this, dear David: since the spontaneous and leaderless formation of the tea parties less than two years ago, there has been a sea-change in the attitude of the electorate and the body politic. Tea Party members knew they were going to be maligned and villified and labeled racists by those who oppose them. but they soldiered on with complete confidence in their patriotism and cause. These allegations, like the ones you make now, dear David, are more like dust than Kryptonite. And when the smoke settled, more than 750 Democratic officeholders got the heave-ho from an electorate exhausted by Democratic arrogance and incompetence. So portray that group any way you wish, dear David. But it isn’t with a little irony that the hombre who is constantly yearning for greater public participation in politics degrades folks who actually do participate. And judging from the numbers, the folks he besmirches are more in touch and persuasive than he…….

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  12. David Lauri December 9, 2010 / 10:25 am
    @Bandit: I know your comment was directed more at David E’s explicit derision of the Tea Party and not my implicit mocking of one of their leader’s positions, but given your comment, I have to ask, do you support Judson Phillips’ statement about the sense of restricting voting just to property owners?

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  13. Ice Bandit December 9, 2010 / 10:21 pm
    @Bandit: I know your comment was directed more at David E’s explicit derision of the Tea Party and not my implicit mocking of one of their leader’s positions, but given your comment, I have to ask, do you support Judson Phillips’ statement about the sense of restricting voting just to property owners? (David Lauri)

    “He who advocates robbing Peter to pay Paul,” so goes the old bromide “can always count of Paul’s support.” And that, dear DL, is not only the problem with our way of conducting business, but the reason the founders were terrified of democracy. But first, if you will indulge a brief diversion. a challenge to your basic premise. The tea party, by design, is a leaderless organization that advocates a small and finite agenda. Though some may organize tea parties and book venues and speakers, the movement is as leaderless as a stampede or a migration. So if tomorrow the Old Bandito declares himself Tea Party Generalissimo and President for Life, that doesn’t mean anyone has to stand at attention and salute. Judson Phillip’s opinions about the government, professional wrestling or apple-pan dowdie are his own. So much for the “leader” tag. The question of franchise has become settled law for the last 150 years of American history. and though land ownership was a requirement for voting in colonial times, all such landowner requirements were abolished by 1850. There were still restrictions in the way of literacy tests and poll taxes, but the franchise has been broadened and widened by a combination of case law, constitutional amendment and supreme court decisions. And as a constitutionialist, the Old Bandito respects the current tradition of broad suffrage. However, that is not to say there isn’t some sympathy for some of Phillips’ arguments. And that question is why should voters be allowed to acquire the money, property and freedom of others of merely because it is popular to do so? Payday loans agencies extended credit to Ohio’s biggest credit risks, and such transactions were purely voluntary until the voters decided they would outlaw such enterprises. Ditto for the smoking ban, which disallowed businessman from allowing a legal practice on their own property. Let all taxation be tied to the voluntary activity of spending rather than the confusing and confiscatory type that punishes the industrious, and limit the power of referendums to strictly governmental functions…..

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  14. David Lauri December 10, 2010 / 3:49 pm
    @Bandit: Fair enough that Judson Phillips isn’t a leader of the Tea Party.  David Weigel in his recent post on Slate.com, “Is Judson Phillips Really a Tea Party Leader?,” agrees with you on that point.
     
    And true that, without a single institution analagous to the DNC or the RNC and their respective chairs, the Tea Party doesn’t have a single person to whom one could point as its official leader.
     
    But leaderless?  Really?  Read a lamestream media account from ABC News, “Tea Party Luminaries Angle for Influence in New GOP Order,” and then come back and argue that some Tea Partiers aren’t more influential than others.  See Merriam-Webster’s definition 2b2 of “leader”: a person who has commanding authority or influence.  The Tea Party/parties may not have a single leader, but there definitely are Tea Party leaders.
     
    Finally, your choice of simile, “as leaderless as a stampede or a migration,” is fun.  Tea Party critics could have some fun with that trope, perhaps playing off the kind of animal that tends to participate in stampedes or mass migrations, or perhaps they’d rather run with one of the definitions of stampede, either Merriam-Webster’s (“a wild headlong rush or flight of frightened animals”) or Wikipedia’s (“an act of mass impulse among herd animals or a crowd of people in which the herd (or crowd) collectively begins running with no clear direction or purpose”). I’m no Tea Party supporter, but if I were, Tea Party as stampede isn’t a comparison I’d suggest.

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  15. Ice Bandit December 11, 2010 / 8:12 am
    Finally, your choice of simile, “as leaderless as a stampede or a migration,” is fun.  Tea Party critics could have some fun with that trope, (David Lauri)
     
    …the Old Bandito chose his words very carefully, dear DL. And because the critics seem incapable of defending their platforms of ever expanding government, punitive taxation and a blatant, nose-holding contempt for the constitution, making fun seems to be their one, last facility. But first, to address what appears to be an enigma, dear DL, let’s examine an organization that has remained successfully leaderless and with an extremely limited agenda for its’ 75 years of existance. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous knew that what differentiates a worthy organization from a cult was leaders; and that the phenomena known as “mission creep” corrupts all organizations that are not constitutionally restricted to finite goals. Hence, ask AA their opinion on the rising use of crystal meth, they will tell you they have no opinion on any issue other than what keeps drunks sober. Let a legislator go to AA for endorsement of a bill, and they will tell him they take no stand on political issues. And if a self-appointed AA “leader” goes on a two week binge, it does not discredit the organization’s message. To concede a seemingly obvious point, some AA members, like a number of Tea Party members, are more persuasive than others. Freed from the bondage of addiction, they explore their professional and life potentials successfully. These are the folks people voluntarily gravitate to, but this attraction is achieved by merit rather than dictate. And there is suspicion that the media’s endless search for a Tea Party “leader” is not for the purpose of understanding, but to have a visible personage to attack and discredit. The Old Bandito will defend the use of the “stampede-migration” metaphor because that is precisely what we have witnessed from the electorate in the past two years. The same independent voters who ushered President Obama into the White House have seen the folly of a leviathan government that only fails to bring prosperity, but sets up an unpopular infrastructure, in the form of Bolshevized health care, that prohibits economic recovery. They have migrated from pathos to bathos on the current regime. And remember those Democratic legislators who were heralded just a couple of years ago as wunderkind, with the intellect, savvy and enthusiasm to cure all the nation’s woes. These same hombres are currently cleaning out their Washington offices and booking flights back to their home districts, and if you ask them what they think just hit them, stampede may come to mind…….

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