The greenwashing of sprawl

In "Bank rolling in the green with eco-friendly building, landscape" (January 2008), when you praised a newly constructed bank headquarters occupying 14 acres of apparently pristine land, you also needed to discuss all of the effects.

Yes, this building has a "green roof, environmentally sensitive landscaping and outdoor lighting." But the building appears to be in a sprawl location surrounded, as the article says, by "larger wooded landscape," which is treated as an nice view for workers rather than something that needs preservation.

This is despite a previous article that emphasizes forest conservation and even an increase as essential in meeting goals for protecting the Bay.

The natural treatment of the stormwater pond is nice, but was it built at the expense of more forest? Is it the sprawl location of the bank that created the need for a large parking lot and pond in the first place?

Commercial construction in remote suburban locations usually means that the parking lot produces more impervious area than the building itself.

The above questions and complaints illustrate why locating a building according to smart growth principles is necessarily better than choosing a sprawl location and trying to mitigate the impacts. Needless to say, the green building features can be built in an urban building as well as this one. The view from an urban green roof is nice, too.

The parking lot and stormwater pond might be avoided altogether because no additional impervious area was created. And 14 acres of forest would still be serving their natural functions.

Caroline County would be better served by a plan to concentrate construction in developed areas. That is the lesson that should be taught to "students, government leaders and the larger business community."

Green building methods should be used to meet goals for actually reducing greenhouse gas production, not to "greenwash" improper land use, then try vainly to reduce the predictable increase in greenhouse gases.

Pamela Lindstrom
Gaithersburg, MD

Dismantle crab pots

I read with interest "Derelict pots raise specter of ghost fishing," (January 2008).

I am a member of the Undersea Explorer's Club of Virginia. A number of years ago, we got rid of abandoned lobster pots in a bay adjacent to Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

The pots were made of wood and easy to tear apart, rendering them ineffective.

One solution to the problem with abandoned crab pots in the Chesapeake Bay would be to have them constructed to that they can be easily dismantled by a diver.

Another solution would be to offer a bounty for abandoned pots retrieved by divers.

Norman Rainer
Richmond, VA