The significance of sustainability in architecture has grown in recent years with no signs of slowing down. More commissions than ever before are targeting sustainability, whether by legal mandate, as an ESG target, or as a moral imperative.

In honor of National Book Month, we’re listing some of our team’s Top 10 suggested reads on sustainable design and architecture which we hope will inspire new ideas for your next project.

1. Buildings Don't Lie by Henry Gifford

With over 1,000 large drawings and photos, this book provides a clear, thorough, and complete explanation of basic building science applicable to any building in any climate. Read this book to become your own expert on making buildings comfortable, healthy, safe, durable, and sustainable. This book also provides guidance on designing building enclosures, indoor air quality, choosing heating and cooling systems, and how to ventilate, heat, and cool different types of buildings to maximize energy efficiency.


2. Moisture Control Handbook by Joe Lstiburek

In the climate-controlled buildings of today, moisture problems affect not only the usable life expectancy of the structure, but the comfort and health of the occupants. This reference is the first to apply up-to-date moisture control and treatment techniques in a problem/solution format.


3. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough

"Reduce, reuse, recycle," urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. But such an approach only perpetuates the one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that creates exorbitant waste and pollution.

McDonough and Braungart explain how products can be designed from the outset so that, after their useful lives, they provide nourishment for something new or continually circulate as pure and valuable materials within closed-loop industrial cycles, rather than being "recycled"-- into low-grade materials.

4. Green Building Illustrated by Francis DK Ching

This book offers a graphical presentation to the theory, practices, and complexities of sustainable design. From the outside to the inside of a building, it covers all aspects of sustainability, providing a framework and detailed strategies to design sustainable buildings. The book includes theories behind green building and current rating systems before moving on to a comprehensive discussion of vital topics. These topics include site selection, passive design using building shape, water conservation, ventilation and air quality, heating and cooling, minimum-impact materials, and much more.

5. The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future by Bill Maclay

The new threshold for green building is not just low energy, it's net-zero energy. Sustainable architect Bill Maclay charts the path for designers and builders interested in exploring green design's new frontier net-zero-energy structures that produce as much energy as they consume and are carbon neutral.

6. Design Professional's Guide to Zero Net Energy Buildings by Charles Eley

Charles Eley draws from over 40 years of his own experience, and interviews with other industry experts, to lay out the principles for achieving Zero Net Energy buildings and the issues surrounding their development. Eley emphasizes the importance of building energy use in achieving a sustainable future; describes how building energy use can be minimized through smart design and energy efficiency technologies; and presents practical information on how to incorporate renewable energy technologies to meet the lowered energy needs. The book identifies the building types and climates where meeting the goal will be a challenge and offers solutions for these special cases. It provides examples and explanations on how these solutions are viable and cost-effective.

7. Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity by Joseph Allen

Health and sustainability are directly linked. This book makes the connection between health science and business for a new way to think about buildings. Allen explains how our indoor environment can have a dramatic impact on a whole host of higher order cognitive functions--including things like concentration, strategic thinking, troubleshooting, and decision-making. Drawing on strategies from sustainable building design such as improved ventilation, use of eco-friendly materials and lighting and noise control, this book provides a guide on improving occupant well-being in a new era of ESG responsibility. 

8. California Greenin': How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader by David Vogel

Over the course of its 150-year history, California has successfully protected its scenic wilderness areas, restricted coastal oil drilling, regulated automobile emissions, preserved coastal access, improved energy efficiency, and, most recently, addressed global climate change. How has this state, more than any other, enacted so many innovative and stringent environmental regulations over such a long period of time? The first comprehensive look at California's history of environmental leadership, California Greenin' shows why the Golden State has been at the forefront in setting new environmental standards, often leading the rest of the nation.


9. Vitamin Green by Joshua Bolchover

Vitamin Green provides an updated exploration of how sustainability is being incorporated into design. “Concerns about sustainability are changing design at every level, and Bolchover has collected well-illustrated examples from every industry, demonstrating how sustainability is impacting the design of everything from skyscrapers to spectacles,” says Gladys Jones, an editor at Essayroo. “Seeing how designers are taking sustainability on board in creative ways will motivate your own spirit of innovation on the next project.”


10. The Law of Green Buildings: Regulatory and Legal Issues in Design, Construction, Operations, and Financing by J. Cullen Howe

Examining the most important issues in achieving the goal of building more efficient and less damaging buildings, this book highlights the significant statutes and regulations as well as other legal issues that need to be considered when advising clients in the development, construction, financing, and leasing of a green building. Topics include federal incentive programs, financing, alternative energy, site selection, land use planning, green construction practices and materials, emerging legal issues, and the effects of climate change on planning and architectural design. 

For more resources on sustainable design, check out our knowledge base or contact us.



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