Green Architecture began with the first Earth Day in 1970, and has grown in popularity as awareness of the earth’s many ecological problems become more wide spread. Professor Rocky Brittain states "I’ve been teaching this subject for twenty years and have watched interest grow. Now I could say there is some element of sustainability taught in just about every architecture school in the country."(Talarico, 1998) Economic factors have also helped the green movement by causing changes in building materials, and technology. This is most notable in changes to heating and cooling systems, and improvements in insulation and window construction which decrease heat loss and therefore decrease heating and cooling costs. Also, "Alternatives including engineered lumber, made from wood chips or strands laminated together have become commonplace…[this is a consequence]…the rise in wood prices and decline in wood quality due to the lack of properly managed forests." (http://www.reddown.com/featartll.html.) Not only are these materials more cost efficient, they also often outperform solid wood.
Affordability is of vital importance if green architecture is going to become wide spread in a capitalistic economy. Gail Lindsey, chairman of the AIA Committee on the Environment states: "Until recently, being green was something of a luxury, reserved for homeowners who had enough money to buy triple-pane argon-filled glass windows or wool wall-to-wall carpeting. But with the growing availability of less expensive green materials, this is no longer true. Sustainable design is a balancing act, a matter of concentrating the architect’s time and the client’s resources on choices that will do the most good. We’ve learned that a house doesn’t have to be alternative or extreme to be green. If we can find a way to lesson the ecological impact of production houses, even tract houses, then we’re getting somewhere."(Talarico, 1998)
Another area in which work is being done to improve green architecture is in developing definable quantifiable ways of assessing the greenness of both building products and structures. "The AIA Committee on the Environment, is working to bring quantitative measures to the subject and to make information about sustainability easier to understand and use. The committee has divided green design into five areas: site and land use (including transportation issues), energy efficiency, materials, indoor ecology, and waste reduction."(Talarico, 1998)
Lynn Simon an environmental architect and consultant has created a system for evaluating building products. "Simon evaluates a green product with the following checklist: Is it locally produced? Is it from a sustainable or renewable resource? Is it reuseable or salvageable if the house is disassembled later? Does it contain recycled products? Were toxic by-products created during the manufacturing process? How much energy is required to create the product? Is there any...