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Building Matters

Coronavirus and Green Building

Will the virus and the adaptations it's required lead to lasting demographic changes?

Will the current crisis reverse the urban migration? The last decade or more has seen Boomers and Millennials alike favoring the conveniences and culture of urban living. Will green building now surge in his small, rural town, the author wonders. Photo courtesy of Rob Yagid.

I was going to write an April Fool’s Day piece, but that’s a lot harder than it might seem this spring, and likely in bad taste. In the spirit though, I looked up its origins on Wikipedia. The first reference was to Chaucer, who is said to have called the day March 32nd. I’ve felt the same way sometimes, waking up on a snowy April 1.

Wikipedia went on to talk about traditions in the UK, and then in the homeland of my mother’s people, Scotland. Not suffering fools gladly, the Scots traditionally refer to the day with a name that, spoken, sounds like the death rattle of a plague-ravaged badger—Huntigowk Day. Translated, that means “hunt a fool day.” Wikipedia then describes the Huntigowk Day traditions of every other European country except for that of my father’s people, the Germans, who evidently decline to take part in anything humorous.

Riding the storm out

What’s all that got to do with green building? Nothing, really, although it does have to do with the human condition, which is not great at the moment. Most people I know are under government orders to stay at home to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Most of my friends and acquaintances are also either able to work from home or they’re in an “exempt” industry such as construction. Taking full advantage of that exemption, my partner and I have been working every day, keeping our distance from other people to the degree we can. Working on New Yorker’s second homes in the hinterlands of western Connecticut, it’s not like we see a lot of people most days in any event. The owners of our current project, for example, are happily quarantined in France and in no hurry to come home.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Patrick Mccombe | | #1

    Good read Andy. I've been thinking many of the same things lately given my new work-at-home situation.

    1. Ian_Schwandt | | #3

      Sweet shades in that photo, Patrick!

  2. Ian_Schwandt | | #2

    As you know, I am reading this in my basement pied-a-terre (a corner of the basement my wife and I laid carpet in and walled off with 6 mill poly) on my parents farm in Wisconsin. Having rolled the dice about two weeks ago to leave the Northeast for the interior. Like you I have more questions than answers but there is something to be said for the 3 mile walk I take daily with my wife and dogs where we have yet to see more than two cars and on many days see zero. My hope for our industry is that we will find new ways to take advantage of the work from anywhere connectivity you write of and use it to build on the foundation of shared knowledge that we see bubbling up on social media and on sites like GBA. As long as society survives this time, now is not the time for answers but the time for questions.

  3. GBA Editor
    MIKE GUERTIN | | #4

    Great piece Andy. Has me laughing one second and thinking the next .
    The first thing that comes to mind is what were the demographic impacts of catastrophes in the past. Did any cause people to pull up and move or not and if so, where? And would any of those events and resulting demographic changes, if any, give us insight into what the next few years hold.

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