30 Years of Green Building in the U.S.

Date published: 
January 12, 2021

It has been quite a wild ride! As The BuildingGreen Report (formerly Environmental Building News, or “EBN”) celebrates its 30th year of publication, we decided to track the growth—and explosion—of the green building movement. We start in 1990 with the founding of AIA’s Committee on the Environment.

There is so much more that we could have listed--what significant events and developments did we miss? Use the comments to help fill out the story. 

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January 20, 2021 - 9:38 am

With the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Austin Energy Green Building developed the first residential rating in 1991. In 1995, a checklist for commercial buildings was developed and in 1998 the multifamily green building rating tool was added.

January 20, 2021 - 10:09 am

Thanks! That's a lot of early action.

January 20, 2021 - 4:39 pm

I was a proud intern for the Austin Energy Program back in 1993 and attended the first GreenBuild in Austin. Fun times. 

January 21, 2021 - 3:39 pm

Interesting growth of the market. Definitely explains the real rate of change in the building industry. Still waiting for the "explosion" to happen, but hoping it is coming soon, as the changes seem pretty minor here.

January 25, 2021 - 1:42 pm

If you can fit it in the tight curve, the HPD and HPDC launched in 2012.

January 26, 2021 - 11:06 am

And we were even partners in the original HPD working group. Don't know how we missed this one. :-)

February 11, 2021 - 12:34 am


June 27, 2022 - 5:58 pm

The American Lung Association (ALA) Health House Program was founded in 1993 to address growing national concerns about indoor air quality and to educate homeowners and builders on how they can make homes healthier. The program’s developed guidelines to raise awareness of the health risks associated with lesser-known pollutants, as well as combustion sources within a home. They had built several demonstration homes in the US and led tours to educate homeowners, designers and builders. 

June 28, 2022 - 9:11 am

That is really interesting, and I didn't know they had done that.

June 30, 2022 - 12:25 pm

In 1996 and 1997 the first 2 National Green Building Conferences were held in Austin

July 27, 2022 - 4:48 pm

Fun to revisit this "long strange trip"!  Two additional items -- EBN was involved in creating summaries of materials reports for the AIA Environmental Resource Guide -- thank you -- already showing your talent for communicating difficult information.  NIST created BEES - a tool for assessing the environmental and economic costs and benefits of materials -- mid-1990s.  It never caught on but some very good LCA work came out of it.

July 28, 2022 - 9:13 am

Always great when you add your wisdom!