The Green House

Via Dave Roberts, Barack Obama is looking to paint the White House green:

President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to make the White House “green.” In an interview with Barbara Walters, Obama said he plans to sit down with the chief usher for the presidential mansion and do an evaluation of its energy efficiency.

He says part of what he wants to do is show the American people that it’s not that hard to go green.

And good for him. I do, however, sometimes worry about the direction the whole “going green” concept works. If you look at how people live in the United States, the real green individual is the poor person who lives in a small apartment, rides the bus to work, and consumes beef relatively sparingly. That guy’s environmental footprint is probably smaller in most ways than that of a prosperous person who goes out of his way to consume green products. Obviously moving to a more modest dwelling is not an option for the President of the United States, and pushing federal buildings (including the White House, but also the offices all around the country) to get more efficient is an excellent way of not only making a direct contribution but also helping to develop and spread best practices. But “to go green” on a social level would probably look very different from what an individual upper middle-class environmentally minded consumer’s personal efforts to do so look like.