Just a few days ago I met with a potential client who very much wanted me to design a rural green home on the edge of a wetland. He would have to compensate for the damage the home would do by funding the planting of native flora to help restore another wetland.

I declined even though it would have been interesting and lucrative. I am fully aware that he will just hire someone else and besmirch the wetland anyway. This happens to me on occasion. I refuse to design rural homes or cabins, especially off-grid ones, purely out of a sense of self-righteous indignation. They are sores on the face of the planet. I don’t really blame those who are chasing their eco-fantasy, and I don’t really blame those who will eventually do the designs for them, I just don’t want to participate in the rape of the planet any more than necessary.

But today, I got the following email:

I recently purchased some property on a Caribbean Island off the coast of Panama. I plan on building two houses. One small over the water guest house (depth approximately 3 feet) approximately 702 square feet which includes a 180 sq loft and 180 deck. The main house will be on 9 ft pilings and will be approximately 2560 sq which includes a 560 sq loft and 600 sq feet deck. It will be two bedrooms, two bath + the loft. The house will be off the grid with solar and a water catchment system.

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I have completed basic draft plans with pencil and paper. I am looking for someone to make recommendations and complete house plans on CAD or similar format. In addition to your normal compensation I would offer a free week stay at the guest house if interested.

Please let me know if this is a project you have interest in working on and next steps.

I have no idea if this is a legitimate request, the musings of a dreamer, a scam to get me to buy a timeshare, or worse, a joke from my brother-in-law.

It doesn’t matter, because I can still use it to make a point. The profit motive is extremely powerful. Once an environmentalist starts a business to capitalize on some aspect of the present popularity of “going green,” all pretenses of neutrality are off. When a publication starts to accept advertising, a biofuel distributor defends biofuels, or a carbon-offset business owner defends carbon offsets, they had better have some very defensible arguments, because the presence of rationalization bias, both conscious and unconscious, is almost guaranteed.

Should I delete the email so I won’t be tempted? What would you do?

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