Spurred by pervasive discussions among architects nationwide, the AIA recently conducted a survey to determine how far the green movement has come since 1997, and it seems that municipalities are firmly on board. “You have about 42 million people who live [in cities with] green building programs,” notes Brooks Rainwater, the AIA's manager of state and local issues and programs and the primary author of the “Local Leaders in Sustainability” report, published in November. “From talking with architects throughout the country about … green architecture, we saw what was happening, but there was no database that documented [all of it].” Of the 606 U.S. cities with a population of more than 50,000 that responded to the survey, 92 have a green program in place—in 1997 there were but two such cities—and another 36 have programs in the works. Architects were directly involved in creating at least 14 of the 92 existing programs. Regionally, the West Coast has made the most progress, with California alone accounting for 35 initiatives. Programs include tax credits, loans, and subsidies, as well as expedited permittings and other nonfinancial incentives. “We agree with the study's conclusion that local governments will continue to [find] effective green building policies as a way of addressing the issues of rising energy costs and climate change,” says Jason Hartke, manager of state and local advocacy at the U.S. Green Building Council. “We hope this study will help inform localities and advocates alike as they consider creating green building policy.” Rainwater, too, has high hopes. “You should get to a point where ‘green design' doesn't exist,” he predicts. “It'll just be the way things are done.”

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