First emerging to mainstream acceptance in the early 1970s with the adoption of Earth Day, the "green" movement has picked up a lot of stream in the last decade or so. Now, more than ever, people are aware of their environmental impact and want to know what they can do to help preserve the planet and its resources for future generations.

But let's be realistic: In an ideal world, we all want to live in the comfortable ways to which we are accustomed, while also being as green as possible. This has given rise to things like gas-efficient hybrid sedans and SUVs, for example.

But what about the homes we live in, or the offices we work in? It's clear that putting up a new building uses a lot of resources -- there's wood, plastic and metal, and gasoline is needed to power the trucks to bring all those materials to the construction site. Is there any way that an inherently resource-consuming process could be altered to be more planet friendly? Absolutely. Green construction is a new, thriving industry, and by using sustainable and energy-efficient materials, people are living and working in beautiful, modern buildings, all the more modern because they aren't damaging the planet as much.

Governments on the local and national level recognize the importance of green construction, and the balance of employment, financial and environmental issues it represents. Read on to find out more about the green movement, how it has affected the construction and remodeling industries, and what's being done to encourage it on the legal level.