Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Barnes Foundation “Greenwash” Can’t Clean Up Toxic Waste of the Move


“Greenwashing” is all the rage.  The London Olympics were promoted as the “greenest” ever and sponsors Dow Chemical and British Petroleum (BP) stepped up to reap the publicity benefits.  Now the controversial Parkway Barnes is getting a good hosing down of “greenwash.”

The New York Times’ RandyKennedy reports that the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status to the Barnes Foundation for the Parkway building that houses the art collection of Albert Barnes.  A green roof, a cistern for watering the gardens, flooring in the galleries salvaged from Coney Island, etc. helped to win the USBC over.  How nice! 
photo credit Tom Crane
 
We would love to know how they figured in the environmental impact of bringing stone from Israel’s Negev desert to cover the exterior of the 93,000 square-foot building!  (LEED requirements call for building materials that have been extracted, harvested, or recovered within 500 miles.)  But that is a detail. 

The real point is that for all of the “greenwashing” this LEED status offers, the Parkway building’s very existence meant destruction of the internationally-revered, sustainable, accessible cultural site of the Barnes Foundation in Merion just a few away, on the border with the City. 
Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA 
 
The Barnes movers (a.k.a. Philly-stines) are being praised for a building that should never have been erected.  These are not people following the tenets of good stewardship of natural and cultural resources.  These are people motivated by commerce, political, gain, and "status" by exploiting amd debasing the Barnes legacy in a Big City power grab. 
Barnes Board Vice Chair Joseph Neubauer, former PA Gov. Rendell
 
As Philadelphian Sandy Bressler put it in a comment on the blog “Hidden City Philadelphia" 

“Seeking LEED Platinum Certification for an unnecessary and inferior Barnes “Museum” less than 5 miles from the fully functional, recently renovated and historically significant original mocks the notion of sustainability.  This whole endeavor is the essence of waste and destruction.”

Nice try, you guys, but the manipulations used to move of the art collection to Philadelphia (documented in the film The Art of theSteal”) have left an indelible toxic stench that even a “LEED Platinum” award cannot wash away. 
 
 

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