Here's an interesting emerging micro-trend in Ecollywood: Marquee-named environmental activists ruffling feathers because of their support, and in this case, opposition, of eco-friendly residential building projects.

Last week, I blogged about U2 guitarist The Edge’s controversial plan to build five environmentally sensitive mansions on environmentally sensitive terrain high above Malib. Needless to say, folks aren't happy. This week, screen legend, Sundance honcho, and all-around green god Robert Redford is raising eyebrows because of his opposition to a proposed eco housing development in Napa Valley.

So why is Redford, someone who we’d think would support such a project, trying to block it? Essentially, Redford, a resident of Napa Valley, is pulling a “reverse Mailbu.” According to The New York Times, Redford has joined the group Save Rural Angwin in effort to halt the development of the Angwin Ecovillage on a 63-acre plot of unspoiled agricultural land in the tiny cow/college town of Angwin.

The unique building project will support cash-strapped Pacific Union College and entails the construction of 275 solar panel-equipped homes (15 percent being affordable) and a retirement community. Angwin Ecovillage will also boast an electric car-sharing program and an organic farm.

Although Angwin Ecovillage seems far less environmentally risky in terms of engineering than the project in fire-, flood-, and landslide-prone Malibu, it is much more grand in scale. Opponents believe an increase in traffic to and from the community will negate any eco-friendliness. 

I don't know enough about Angwin to side with either camp, but I'm guessing that new residential developments of this scale aren't exactly a rarity in Northern California. It's a shame that an institute of higher learning must resort to rural real estate development and potentially sully untouched land to keep its doors open, but, to play devil's advocate, it could be much worse. Small town after small town are being turned upside by big box stores and strip malls; it's a saving grace that the folks behind the Angwin development are thinking green. What are your thoughts?

Via [NYT]

Photo: Apollo Alliance

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Redford thwarts green building project
Is Robert Redford going against the green grain by opposing a proposed eco-village in Napa Valley?