Green People: Preston Koerner (aka Jetson Green)

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If you've been hanging around the green building scene for any time at all, or just occasionally reading this blog, then you're probably familiar with Jetson Green. We're hugely devoted fans and can't help slinking the site on a regular basis.

So, why do we love Jetson Green? First of all, it's the pictures. JG seems to get pictures of the most fascinating green building projects before anyone else. Secondly, we love the excitement -- try to find another blog that celebrates prefab, flat-pack, and shipping containers the way it does.

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So who is the man behind the Jetson Green curtain? It's Preston Koerner, an attorney in Salt Lake City (studying for his LEED AP exam) with an infectious passion for green building. He is the founder, owner, and chief editor of Jetson Green.

We asked him to share some of this thoughts on the subject, and he thoughtfully obliged.

Jump below for our questions and Preston's answers ...In the field of green building, what is your biggest green inspiration?

My biggest green inspiration is probably not any one product or company in particular, it's the momentum for good green products in general. Whether CFLs and LEDs, recycled content countertops and furniture, or Energy Star and WaterSense appliances and fixtures, all sorts of green products are widely available and they look good, too. Due to the increasing popularity of green certification systems, the need to put less garbage in land fills, and the favorable political and social climate for environmentalism, green materials have come out as big winners in design and construction. And this is good for everyone because good green materials won’t just be available to the rich or elite, they’ll be available to all of us. I like that and continue to monitor the future of materials going forward.

In the field of green building, what is your biggest green frustration?

This is a tough question because I honestly don’t have the mentality to identify that something is a frustration in my mind. I see problems that need to be solved, but these problems are precisely the greatest opportunities for our future. But if I were to pinpoint one thing I have a difficult time with, it would be the prevalent American mindset for more square footage. It’s something I just don’t get. I mean, according to the U.S. Census, the average square footage of a home from the years 1973 to 2007 has blimped in size from 1660 to 2521 square feet. And less people are living in these larger homes, too.

Many Americans see a large home as some sort of status symbol or blanket of comfort. I understand that, but I kind of wish we could get away from that mentality and really reconsider what is necessary (i.e., what we’re willing to buy, how much of our lives we’ll mortgage, etc). To me it’s like, “Hey, does everyone need to wear a XXXL t-shirt?” The answer would invariably be “No.” But houses have grown into palaces, and as Henry David Thoreau would probably agree, the occupants haven’t really grown to need such large spaces. So I’m hoping we’ll see more and more thought put into the home sizes.

In your opinion what is the one (or two, or three) most promising recent green building breakthrough(s)/product(s)?

There is so much out there. I see some zany, crazy, breakthrough innovation on Digg pretty much everyday, but I’m confident that the more unassuming technologies will probably be the best solutions. I really like general stuff such as solar thermal, effective building insulation and envelope strategies, green roofs, native and indigenous landscaping, no-VOC paints and sealants, dual-flush toilets and efficient fixtures, etc. But to name a few specifics, I really like Cree’s LR6 LED light, Akeena’s Andalay solar PV system, and architectural wind such as the technology by AeroVironment and Aerotecture.

Currently, what is your favorite green building project?

People are probably getting tired of hearing this from me, but I really like the 100k House project by Chad Ludeman and Postgreen in Philly. The 100k House represents what I think is the perfect trifecta of elements necessary in a green project: style, sustainability, and affordability. Some people aren’t completely interested in modern or contemporary architecture, so even if the project isn’t modern, it should be stylish. I’m a believer that all projects should stand on their own based on these three things, style, sustainability, and affordability.

I’ve also been monitoring a project in my hometown of Dallas called Urban Reserve. This small, residential community has roughly 50 lots and all the homes in the community must be energy efficient, green, and modern. Every single one of the homes being built could make the cover of Dwell Magazine, they’re that cool. But what’s most interesting about the project is that it shows how interested people are in well-designed, sustainable homes.

Do you have any green advice, tips for anyone on any green topic?

My only tip is to get educated on what’s happening in this space. I see tips all over the place, “Five Steps to Get Your Green On,” “Get Green in 8 Minutes a Day,” and “The Best Way to Help the Environment,” etc. This stuff is good, but everyone is at a different point in life. Everyone has a different perspective on the environment. The one thing that changed my perspective the most, probably, was reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce. For some reason, that book hit me where it needed to. But everyone’s different, so all I can say is: educate yourself and start making choices based on what you learn.

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