Sustainability is now becoming a topic found on every Main Street in America. What some once thought of as elitism is now entering the realm of the building code.

I found proof of this last week when I previewed a news release we posted on our Web site. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) says that since 2003, the number of counties with green building programs has risen from eight to 39, a 487% increase.

AIA determined this by surveying the eco-friendly initiatives of the 200 most populous counties in 2008, representing 169 million Americans, or a little more than half of the country. Working in conjunction with the National Association of Counties, the AIA surveyors spoke to planners, building officials, and sustainability managers across the country, resulting in a total response rate of 88%.

"Green building policy is an important part of this process, and it is heartening to see all of the effort being put forth by local leaders," said Paul Mendelsohn, AIA's vice president, government and community relations. "The experiences of these counties make it increasingly clear that investment in high-performance building programs is an efficient and popular use of taxpayer dollars."

Key findings include:

  • Thirty-nine counties have a green building program, or at least 19.5% of all sample counties
  • At least 43 million people, or 26% of the sample population, live in counties with green building programs.
  • An additional nine counties indicated that they are in a more advanced stage of developing green building programs, indicating a future of increased green activity.

The acceptance of concrete's role in sustainability may provide a key tool in how to grow the market in the next 18 months. So in a few weeks, we'll be doing our part to help convince you to join the green effort. Soon you'll be receiving the first of what we hope will be come an annual special issue featuring our GreenSite award program. You can preview our results by visiting our Web site.

Like our city's leaders, I hope you will accept this growth in green building. I hope we receive many more entries next year.

Download the American Institute of Architects' 56-page study, Local Leaders in Sustainability: Green Counties.