Whether you build your own home or are asking someone to build it for you, there are alternative methods to concrete and bricks. Here are some ideas. You can buy materials from Green Building Store and GreenSpec.
The Passivhaus Handbook shows how to build a low-energy (and sometimes no-energy) house or to retrofit an existing house to have low or no energy bills, using natural building materials. You’ll learn building physics and the key elements of Passivhaus (no air leakage, designing out thermal cold bridges, moisture management and ventilation).
Building with Straw Bales is by England’s top expert (a woman!) showing how to build these naturally-insulated and very cheap homes. Yet our waste hay is burned creating carbon emissions, when it could easily be used to build thousands of quick affordable homes. When built properly and plastered, they are as safe as wood houses.
Earthbag Building shows how to use the ‘flexible form rammed earth technique’ to easily build homes, outbuildings and garden walls that are naturally arched, and also good for emergency relief buildings.
Green Home Building is a comprehensive overview of all the types of natural homes. Written by a green building consultant, this also shows how to build homes that use hardly any outsourced energy.
green building on a bigger scale
Designing for the Climate Emergency is the ultimate book for architectural students, architects and town planners. Just ‘building more homes’ is not the answer, a radical change is needed to avoid just more conventional bricks and carbon emissions. This book covers 10 key themes, to guide readers through a different way to buidl homes, in five illustrated chapters. Reflecting years of study, you’ll also find key checklists, case studies, student examples and an extensive glossary. The book is written by a collection of sustainable building experts including an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Architecture at a Finnish university.
The Sustainable City is a guide to green roofs that grow on flats, homes insulated with cork and light timber structures designed to be as beautiful, as they are energy-efficient. Striking new offices are now retro-fitted over preserved buildings in the city, while communal hubs are built from reclaimed materials. This book looks at how the capital is responding to the ever-pressing need to build with the environment in mind, and talks to the London architects, designers and residents who are creating a city that lives, works and plays sustainably. Author Harriet Thorpe is a writer and editor based in London, who writes on architecture, travel, art and design. Photographer Taran Wilkhu lives in London, in a timber-frame house.
Green Building Envelopes is the ideal birthday book for architects and town planners, looking how changes in design (with project examples) can take us forward, in an era of climate change. The warming planet means we have to look more at how buildings are designed, and cities as a whole. Everything from well-insulated homes and better clean energy to preventing floods. This volume looks at impressive and promising concepts worldwide, to explore exteriors that reduce CO2 emissions, bind pollutants, provide acoustic insulation, absorb UV rays and are more energy efficient. The focus is on organic materials and how good planning and building can save the planet. Author Sibyl Kramer is an architect.
how to transform building architecture
People, Planet, Design is a book that looks at why many architects build fancy buildings, that are not set up for people or the planet. Most people in the western world spend 90% of their days inside, so why do architects use materials linked to negative health impacts? And the construction and operation of modern buildings is now responsible for 40% of climate-changing carbon emissions.
Changing the design choices by the typical architecture firm can reduce emissions by around 300 times per person. And yet ‘sustainable architecture’ remains a buzz phrase, rather than the norm. What is all new buildings were designed to cool the planet, heal communities, enhance ecological functioning and advance justice (so that poor and marginalised people still had access to clean, safe, light and healthy green homes)?
The author architect builds his case in this book, to lay out transformative tools for ‘human-centred architecture’. Still beautiful, but with awareness of how each building design impacts teh community, planet and people who will use the building. He also showcases 10 building systems that embody excellence of this philosophy.
Buildings should be focused on what they are for: to shelter us from the elements (without disconnecting us from nature) and to provide air, light and nice views (essential for mental health).
Corey Squire is an architect and expert in sustainable design. He lectures on sustainable design and is associate director at an architecture/interiors company in Oregon (US) where he lives with his architect wife and their son (a public transport advocate).