Thursday, 17 November 2011

An Energetic Approach to Lingo Bingo and Greenwash

Last year, we wrote an indignant piece about local development quango ACSEF (Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future) and their flagship cargo-cult real-estate project, "Energetica", which had then just benefitted from a relaunch.

The Energetica "leaflet" distributed at the time was, we said: "[a] self-satirising work of pompous cut-and-paste managementspeak buzzword grandiloquence [which] is both a plea by vested interests for development land to be released to construction companies and a sales brochure which sickeningly flatters potential buyers."
A Newburgh
Energetica Tenement

But we've been reading the peerless Auchterness blog, where we learned a much-needed thing or two about planning, so now we take it all back, all that nasty stuff we said about Energetica. For it seems that last year's relaunch of Energetica went so well that they've decided to have another relaunch this year, with a refresh of the offering and rebranding with new brochures to download from a smashing new website with a dot-uk-dot-com domain and everything.

And so we congratulate ACSEF on this re-launch, not least because it shows a praiseworthy evolutionary approach to the use of language in support of the promotion of real-estate ventures. Whereas the previous iteration of Energetica transparently telegraphed the oil-industry legacy of the ACSEF board members (last year we were instructed that the project would "stimulate synergies" and were invited to consider the "private sector vision" of "dynamic organisations"), today, things have moved on, oh yes, and an altogether more modern and forward looking and thrillingly emotional offering is published, ready for you to download in modern, exciting, PDF form here.

For on the Energetica website and in the lovely new brochure we were very thrilled to see a use of words which is designed to push the reader's psychological buttons - evocative words, expressive phrases laden with an abstracted emotional freight - words which connote a softer kind of power than that of the oil-service companies who are largely responsible for promoting this real-estate scheme. Here's the sort of stuff they're saying now:
"Here, now, and on the horizon" - "Inspired through a deeper understanding" - "If it can be imagined, it can be realised" - "Passion and opportunity should be shared" - "We should take responsibility for our world"
Yes, it's clear that - through their stewardship of the International Design Competition for the destruction of Union Terrace Gardens - ACSEF have learned a thing or to about peppering their publications with the very latest kind of Starchitect-style boilerplate. See - the Union Terrace Gardens debacle wasn't for nothing after all!

But above all, one of the most admirable aspects of the Energetica project is its greenwashing credentials - the use of the word "sustainable", for instance is a big favourite of our local oil company tycoons here in Aberdeen, and is highly evident on the Energetica website and brochure. There are, on the exciting, innovative, forward-looking Energetica interactive maps, little glyphs which denote the locations where a handful of wind-turbines might go in-between Aberdeen and Fraserburgh one day. Sustainability, see? And we all know that golf is a "green" activity (geddit?!), so it's heartening to see a preponderance golf courses decorating the map of Energetica - many indeed are the the chances afforded by these exclusive mostly-male bastions for high-ranking executives to discuss important matters in a low-pressure unminuted environment, away from the attentions of the busybody stickybeaks who just wouldn't understand the finer points of high-end real-estate dealings anyway. And as saviour of the future Mr Dr Donald Trump himself has said
...if I added the deals I make on my course to my portfolio then it would be a much bigger part of my business. If I didn't play golf at my course in Westchester County (N.Y.) then I wouldn't have four major buildings there. Owning a great golf course gives you great power.
We offer a word of caution, however, to ACSEF. We know how difficult it is for them to shrug off their existing high-carbon motorcentric and frequent-flyer world-view, but if they are to truly achieve world-class breakthrough greenwash, they should leave out (or at least de-emphasise) all their talk of the Aberdeen Airport Expansion project, which is mentioned in the brochure and on web-pages here and here and here. Moreover, they might consider leaving out (or at least not trumpeting quite so loudly) all their needy-pleading promotion of Aberdeen's mooted orbital motorway project (the AWPR - Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route) and the accompanying intended increase of capacity on the A90 trunk road to Ellon which are mentioned on the Energetica brochure and on the web pages here and here and here and here and here and here.

And a final word of advice. In attempting to issue a greenwashing press-release, when ACSEF speak on behalf of oil service companies who have leased a shed at the Energetica industrial estate, if they are to have us believe that these companies are truly the sort of enterprises which are committed to plotting an entrepreneurial course for Aberdeen "City and Shire" into a future beyond the exploitation of oil and gas reserves, its probably best if they stop referring to sustainable and renewable sources of energy as being "alternative energy". When executives with a background in oil and gas use language like that, it just gives the game away, see?

But, to sum it up, we congratulate ACSEF once again on their re-launch of Energetica. We think it's gone so well that they should have another re-launch, really soon.

More about Golf Greens than Green Energy

1 comment:

Mick Miller said...

Another fine piece of writing. I sat on the sofa the other day and watched War of the Worlds (the overblown Spielberg epic) so was surprised to see the invading 'tripods' in that film have pitched up, in fetching purple, along the coast of the Energetic(ah!) map. Are they trying to tell us something............