Celebrity Green Building: Ego or Ecology?

In trolling through the interwebs for some interesting stories about green building, I was reminded of the recent TV series Living with Ed, which chronicles the lifestyle of actor and eco-activist Ed Begley, Jr and which can be seen on HGTV.

On the program, Begley discusses his own approach to environmentalism and ways to live  more green-friendly way.  In addition, other celebrities of a like-minded worldview are also profiled, including Helen Hunt, Larry Hagman, Jay Leno, and many others .

One such celebrity  who stands out for me is singer-songwriter Jackson Browne (“Doctor My Eyes”, “The Pretender”, “Running on Empty”, “Somebody’s Baby”, and more radio hits you know and love), being as I am something of a music geek.

Jackson Browne T-shirt image courtesy of G2. Click on the image to view Flickrstream.

Jackson Browne T-shirt image courtesy of G2. Click on the image to view Flickrstream.

Jackson lives completely off the grid, powering his home by means of wind turbines and solar panels.  Heat is generated by wood burning stoves in the winter, and in the summer, a cool environment is maintained by masonry and rebar which keeps cool air in.  And to top it off, Browne has his own weather station.  His own weather station!  I wouldn’t even know what to do with my own weather station!  Pretty cool, right?


But, it got me thinking.

I think it’s great that celebrities are modeling the green lifestyle.  Yet, there is something very “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” about this kind of thing.  I will be very surprised if I ever personally have the resources to buy a wind turbine, let alone a home with enough space to put one.  And a weather station?  I just don’t know.  It seems a bit out of reach for the common person.  And when I say ‘a bit’ I suppose I mean ‘completely and utterly”.

It’s admirable of course that Browne, and Begley are able to live the way their consciences dictate they should.  But, I’m personally interested in seeing the dawning of a time when everyone has the options which these celebrities currently have.  More to the point, my gut on this tells me that  instead of seeking to live off of the grid, maybe it makes more sense to invest in efforts that make the grid itself more efficient, with a more respectful approach to resources that inspire the technology.

Of course, when everyone lives green and it’s no longer the exception to the rule, it makes it more difficult to view green living as something close to sainthood.  Yet, those who really think these issues are important aren’t interested in that sort of glorification anyway, right?



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