Well if you can measure the importance of a holiday by whether Google adorns its logo in the spirit of the day, then Earth Day has truly come into its own.

It’s not surprising to see solar panels and wind turbines on today’s page, but when you think about it, it’s a very auspicious sign of change. What used to be the typical icons that represented Earth Day? Trees? Flowers? “Natural” things? Now what we see are the tools and technologies that are actually pushing progress towards living better on (and with) the Earth.

Google expects that their vast public audience will know what those blue rectangles and white fan-shaped things are — and it’s a reasonable expectation. Renewable energy has taken center stage in every news medium from small-town gazettes to the global wires. Wind towers and photovoltaics are recognizable objects now; they are the designed and engineered expression of a growing willingness to meet our needs in a new way.

This is particularly exhilirating time within design and architecture, when rethinking approaches, adopting new materials and technologies, and modifying industrial practices, can potentially have profound impact.

While of course we wish that the motivation that drives a good Earth Day celebration would hold its momentum throughout the year, we also appreciate that this holiday serves as an annual opportunity to reflect on how things have changed since the last go round. And they have.

Earth Day is no longer just a salute to the natural world. This year, it’s a resounding affirmation that we can design our way out of disaster, or at least steer in a different direction. Google’s illustration is a testament to this future-forward design intelligence, as is much of what we present at Inhabitat. We aim to bring attention to people and projects that are pushing the edge of sustainable design in all its forms.

In the 364 days until Earth Day 2007, we’ll be holding this affirmation close at hand. The rate of transformation in this field is astoundingly rapid. We can only imagine what we might be reflecting upon one year from today.

Happy Earth Day from Inhabitat.