Witold Rybczynski asks about sustainable design: "does all this really amount to a new type of "green architecture," or "eco-tecture," as the New York Times Magazine inelegantly called it not long ago? Or is green design just the equivalent of better plumbing?" He has been there before- shown above is "a model house that demonstrated a number of energy-saving and environmentally friendly features, built 35 years ago. These included a self-contained toilet, a rooftop solar still to recycle shower water, a wind machine to generate electricity, and a solar oven (in foreground at right). We gratefully accepted Buckminster Fuller's suggestion and christened the house the Ecol Operation."
He has a great slide show covering a history of green building design at ::Slate
"The problem with solar houses, like this example, was that they tended to resemble wedges of cheese. That's what happens when a single factor—how you heat a building—is given precedence over all the rest."