I recently received a pleasant surprise from the U.S. Postal Service. As I pulled the string to open a padded USPS envelope, I noticed it had been Cradle to Cradle Silver certified, a program of MBDC, Charlottesville, Va. The program ensures the envelope consists of environmentally safe materials, has been designed for recycling or composting, and responsibly used energy and water during manufacture. Those of us in the green-building industry are familiar with this certification for building products; today it also is an example of how our government is taking steps toward a more sustainable future. Although there is more to each candidate than environmental policy, the spread may help you envision how sustainable our nation’s future will be with McCain or Obama at the helm. The projects featured in this issue are taking the steps toward a greener future; each won an award in eco-structure’s inaugural Evergreen Awards program. The awards' categories, which are based on sections of the magazine (“ecommercial,” “greenhouse,” “flashback” and“ perspectives”), recognize architects, developers, contractors and other building professionals who have improved the environmental performances of buildings and their surroundings.

The tireless judges, including Ralph DiNola, LEED AP, principal of Green Building Services, Portland, Ore.; Tom Glaysher, intern architect with Flad Architects, Gainesville, Fla.; and Bert Gregory, FAIA, LEED AP, principal and chief executive officer of Mithun, Seattle, chose winners from 92 innovative submissions. The winning projects set admirable examples of how construction and design teams should approach all building projects. There’s no doubt we all wish we could see whether the green-building industry's current efforts are enough to positively affect our nation’s environmental future. On page 48, you’ll find what I like to call the crystal-ball article. Several design and construction industry leaders shared their predictions about our buildings in the year 2030.

Will we have achieved carbon-neutral buildings by then? I think you’ll find what each leader said informative and encouraging. As we look to the future, it's important to stay focused on what we do in the present. In this election year, let's remember what President Abraham Lincoln once said: "The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time."