EnvironDesign Journal As the need for developing business models and manufacturing processes that sustain environmental health has become crucial to long-term success, many companies are reinventing themselves and searching for new ways of doing things.by Jean Pierre SimardStaying the CourseAmericans grew more negative over the past year about the quality of the environment in the United States, according to the results of Gallup's annual Environment/Earth Day poll conducted this past March. At the same time, they also became less likely to favor aggressive action to correct environmental problems. Why the inconsistency? Most likely it stemmed from Americans' heightened worries about the U.S. economy, as well as the war in Iraq. In fact, the percentage of Americans who evaluated the U.S. economy positively—calling it "excellent" or "good"—has inched downward each of the last two years, from 46 percent in March 2001 to 44 percent in March 2002 and to 41 percent in March 2003. Over the same period, the outlook on the environment has fluctuated, with the percentage saying it is "getting better" rising from 36 percent in 2001 to 40 percent in 2002, and then dropping significantly to 33 percent this year.The net result is that the percentage holding a negative view of environmental conditions increased sharply over the past year, from 38 percent in 2002 to 47 percent today. And yet, despite this change in Americans' impressions about environmental conditions, the public appears less willing than in the past to support strong environmental protection measures. Just 47 percent say protection of the environment should be given priority, while nearly as many (42 percent) say economic growth should take priority. Last year, the margin in favor of the environment on this question was much stronger: 54 percent versus 36 percent.Considering these trends, we congratulate companies that continue to move ahead in their dedication to environmental initiatives. While these corporate citizens also experience the same economic and global stability worries as does John Q. Public, they have decided to stay the course. Instead of being swayed by fickle public opinion, these companies are guided by 21st-century wisdom, secure in their vision that environmental stewardship is not a burden, but rather a creative and necessary force that will drive product innovation and, eventually, help secure long-term success—and maybe even survival. Our economic woes will not remain forever, and the companies that have dedicated themselves to forward-thinking research and development will reap the rewards of their stick-to-itiveness.We hope you will use the annual Directory of Green Design and Building Products included in this issue to research healthier, more eco-friendly alternatives to traditional building materials produced by those companies that are looking solidly toward the future. It is a good first step toward providing the positive reinforcement these businesses deserve as they move us all into an era where specifying green design and building products is standard operating procedure.