Green Building Timeline

  • Pre-20th Century – structures were designed and built by builder-architects who had an ability to understand the entire building from design through construction and lifetime operations. They incorporated enduring passive design and simple mechanical systems to heat, cool and light buildings. Architects in the 21st Century will look back upon these ideas to relearn the basics of climatic design.

  • 1930s – new building technologies began to transform urban landscape. Advent of air conditioning, low-wattage fluorescent lighting, structural steel, and reflective glass made possible enclosed glass and steel structures that could be heated and cooled with massive HVAC systems, thanks to availability of cheap fossil fuels. These technologies began a sadly regressive movement in architecture in which architects began to ignore climate issues and their effect on buildings and occupants. Increasing complexity in the industry also brought about specialization in professionals, leading to the loss of the generalists, the builder-architects.  This specialization led to an increasing lack of communication between the professionals and therefore of lack of whole systems thinking in designing the various parts of the building. This problem will only begin to be addressed by the start of the 21st Century through the integrated design process.

  • 1970s, a small group of forward-thinking architects, environmentalists, and ecologists inspired by work of Victor Olgyay (Design with Climate), Ralph Knowles (Form and Stability), and Rachel Carson (Silent Spring), began to question the advisability of building in this manner.

  • 1973 – in response to energy crisis, American Institute of Architects (AIA) formed an energy task force, later the AIA Committee on Energy

  • 1977 – The Department of Energy was created to address energy usage and conservation

  • 1977 – Solar Energy Research Institute was founded (later National Renewable Energy Laboratory) in Golden, CO

  • 1980 – The Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC) was founded by the major building trade associations as the Passive Solar Industries Council.

  • 1987 – UN World Commission on the Environment and Development provided the first definition of the term “sustainable development,” as that which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

  • 1989 – The AIA Energy Committee formed into the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE)

  • 1990 – Austin Green Building Program launched (Austin, TX)

  • 1992 – AIA Environmental Resource Guide – the first assessment of building products based on life cycle analysis. Credited with encouraging numerous building product manufacturers to make their products more ecologically sensitive.

  • 1992 –UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, or “Earth Summit.” Passage of Agenda 21, a blueprint for achieving global sustainability, the Rio declaration on Environment and Development, and statements on forest principles, climate change, and biodiversity.

  • 1992 – Rio Earth Summit awards Austin Green Building Program on of only ten awards for most innovative government environmental programs in the world, the only one awarded to a US program.

  • 1993 – Inspired at Earth Summit, AIA president-elect chose sustainability as theme for International Union of Architects (UIA)/AIA World Congress of Architects. Signed a declaration of Interdependence for a Sustainable Future by AIA president Susan Maxman and UIA president Olufemi Majekodunmi. Today, the “Architecture at the Crossroads” convention is recognized as a turning point in the history of the green building movement.

  • 1993 – Greening of the White House: President Clinton announced plans to make the Presidential mansion “a model for efficiency and waste reduction.” This encouraged participants to green other properties: the Pentagon, the Presidio, and the US Department of Energy Headquarters, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Alaska’s Denali

  • 1993 – US Green Building Council Founded

  • 1994 – City of Boulder, CO, GreenPoints Program launched (Boulder, CO)

  • 1995 – The Built Green Colorado Program launched (Denver, CO)

  • 1997 – Build a Better Kitsap Program launched (Kitsap County, WA)

  • 1997 – The Navy initiated the development of the Whole Building Design Guide, an online resource that incorporates sustainability requirements into mainstream specifications and guidelines. They incorporate sustainable design into the majority of their new projects.

  • 1998 – Green Building Challenge – Reps from 14 nations met to create an international assessment tool that takes into account regional and national environmental, economic, and social equity conditions

  • 1998 – Build a Better Clark Program launched (Clark County, WA)

  • 1998 – City of Scottsdale, AZ Sustainable Building Program launched (Scottsdale, AZ)

  • 1998 – AIA/COTE Top 10 Green Projects to call attention to successful sustainable design

  • 1998 – President Clinton issued first of 3 “greening buildings” executive orders

  • 1999 – Earth Craft House Program launched (Atlanta, GA)

  • 1999 – Executive Order 12852 established President Council on Sustainable Development final report, recommending 140 actions to improve the nation’s environment, many related to building sustainability.

  • 2000 – Increasing number of municipalities and corporations begin to demand and set internal standards for green buildings within their organizations.  Growth in green building organizations, attendance at professional conferences, and consumer awareness grows exponentially.


3 Responses to “Green Building Timeline”

  1. 1 Nouran
    December 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    what happened after 2000??

  2. December 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    why is there a gun at the top

  3. January 16, 2014 at 5:41 am

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on
    the video to make your point. You clearly know
    what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site
    when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

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