The Green Movement, popular with the Hippies in the early 60s was the precursor for the present interest in building Green homes. The movement caught on in Europe and the United States with some variations along the way. The political authority of the green movement gained significantly with the institution of the German Green Party in 1970s. Many more Green political parties came into being notably in Europe and thus an institutional approach to the green movement was in place in Europe. These Green parties often formed alliances in Europe giving the impetus to the green agenda. A prime example is the green legislation tax passed in the late 1990s by the German government.
Now, nothing of that sort has happened in America. In this country, the Green movement has continued its march without any federal support. During the early years, building green homes was significantly more expensive than normal homes. The American building industry following the pragmatic capitalist line, sought to maximize profits unlike the European builders who had the pressure of the governments and influential NGOs to persevere building green.
One of the popular movements in Europe that has persisted over 30 years is termed Building Biology, and opines that traditional brick and mortar buildings with its ingredients of steel, concrete, plastic foams are unhealthy; it also recommends that naturally occurring local building materials are a better choice. Consequently, over the years, Europeans have been building walls with the help of loam. For insulation, recycled newspaper is a prudent choice. Used bathing water which was till late considered as waste by Americans, can be sensibly utilized for landscaping. The US LEED initiative which aims at bringing green building into the mainstream is still not a federal law. One may look at the French initiative, to implement its local building green norms in the European Union, as a positive influence on the State.
For ages, Americans have built their houses with wood, a cheap and plentiful commodity. The swift expansion of the US construction industry raised import of wood and consequently the loss of substantial tropical rainforest areas. The real estate developers did not see it fit to consider the incalculable harm that was being done to the global environment. The Europeans on the other had very early on understood the likely adverse impact on the environment and commenced forest plantation in their own countries as also using bamboo and other quick growing woods instead of tropical rainforest woods. Wonder why Europe has maintained an ample lead over the United States in building green.