It is becoming apparent that “green design” is not a passing trend. More and more, words such as “sustainable,” “LEED certified,” “eco-friendly” and “carbon foot print” are being used to describe the construction of new buildings and homes. According to a statement recently released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), local communities in the U.S. are expanding their green building programs despite the economic downturn.

“More than one in five U.S. cities with populations greater than 50,000 surveyed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) report having a policy to promote green buildings, accounting for more than 53 million people,” stated the AIA. “The AIA initially conducted this survey in 2007 for a Local Leaders in Sustainability report that has just been updated. The new report, “Green Building Policy in a Changing Economic Environment,” is an inventory of policies and best practices intended to help policymakers advance a more sustainable legislative agenda for growth and development.”

It is gratifying to hear statistics such as these, because the more people that “think green,” the better off our environment will be. It will encourage architects and designers to continue to search for the most eco-friendly ways to design new projects.

“It is encouraging that cities are recognizing the economic benefits of energy-efficient buildings, and equally encouraging that the number of programs across the country are increasing despite such difficult economic conditions,” stated AIA Executive Vice President / CEO Christine McEntee. “Our ultimate goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in buildings by 2030 and that all design projects will be sustainable as a matter of course.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to witness first hand the benefits of a LEED-certified building. I traveled out to Minnesota to visit Cold Spring Granite Co., a large American producer of natural stone. While the company’s philosophy has always been a mindset of environmental awareness, in recent years it has taken dramatic steps to become more efficient and cut down on energy consumption - overall minimizing its carbon footprint.

“Developing and maintaining a sustainable operation for quarrying, processing, transporting and using stone is a core value that not only changes how we do business, but also shapes our corporate culture,” states Cold Spring Granite Co. on its Web site. And when walking throughout the stone producer’s facilities, it is obvious that it stands by its word. Not only does the company recycle more than 95% of its water during the production process, it works tirelessly to reduce its impact of operating performance/distribution processes on air, land and water.

Additionally, it has expended a lot of time and effort to building a new sustainable office. The first level of its new headquarters has received LEED certification. From low-flush toilets to sensor lighting and white noise, the first floor of the building is an innovation in green building. Also, 90% of the space has a direct view of the outside and there is a pre-set temperature control.

Cold Spring Granite Co.’s facilities is just one example of an environmentally conscious company. As a magazine editor, I continually receive press releases introducing new stone or tile products. I am pleased to report that more and more of these releases are presenting new product lines that are green. Whether they are made with recycled material or the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly, it is obvious that many manufacturers are now developing products with green building in mind. Some of these latest innovations can be found in the Cersaie product review, which begins on page 14. Unfortunately, space constraints only allow for a handful to be printed at one time, but as long as I keep receiving information about new green products that hit the market, I promise to continue to share these stone and tile lines with our readers.