Many people recognize the term LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as a positive, green designation. And it is -- it's an internationally recognized mark of excellence that's given to structures that meet certain sustainable qualifications [source: U.S. Green Building Council]. But architect Thom Mayne, the 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner (aka the architect's Nobel), hopes people don't consider LEED standards the final word for sustainable architecture. More specifically, he doesn't believe buildings must sport a certain look, or meet very specific standards, to be considered green. Instead, he'd prefer to look more at a building's long-term environmental performance when deciding if it's sustainable or not [source: Bowen].
Mayne founded California-based architectural firm Morphosis in 1972, and focuses on creating innovatively designed structures offering long-range, eco-friendly benefits. Recent projects, such as the San Francisco Federal Building and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite operations center in Maryland, sport features such as green roofs, solar power and thermally efficient outer-wall designs. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Big Easy in 2005, Mayne -- in conjunction with actor Brad Pitt's Make It Right Foundation -- created the FLOAT house specifically for the families of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. These pre-fab, green homes sit above the ground on a chassis or sorts, which can rise up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) along guideposts in the event of flooding [source: Make It Right].