Current Projects
Sustainable Building Resources

US Green Building Council
1015 18th Street, NW, Suite 508
Washington, DC 20036

Coalition of environmental building professionals promoting green building.  They sponsor national green building conferences and have a website with good information.

National Association of Homebuilders
1201  15th Street, NW
Washington  DC  20005-2800

National group with local chapters promoting good business in building.  They are also actively researching and promoting green building practices through the NAHB Research Center.

National Building Museum
401 F Street NW
Washington  DC  20001

These are the people that put on the Ten Shades of Green exhibit.  In addition to this they have info, a bookstore, professional resource guide.  Their focus changes from time to time.

E-Star / Energy Rated Homes of Colorado
1981 Blake Street
Denver  CO  80202

This is the national program that rates energy consumption.  The homes division looks at energy efficiency and use in construction. They will certify construction projects.

Partnership for Advanced Technology in Housing (PATH)
451  7th Street  SW
Suite B133
Washington  DC  20410

A governmental organization designed to promote appropriate building.  Includes energy efficiency, technologies, mech. systems, materials, etc.  Lots of info and links to other info and other organizations doing similar stuff.

Center for Resourceful Building Technology
PO Box 100
Missoula  MT  59806

A division of the National Center for Appropriate Technology.  Offers consulting, speakers and info on appropriate tech in building and also has publications available.

American Solar Energy Society
2400 Central Avenue, G1
Boulder  CO  80301-2843

Sponsors conferences, tours of solar homes and buildings, umbrella organization for local chapters, publishers of Solar Today magazine and more.

Green Builder Program of Colorado
c/o Home Builders Association of Metro Denver
1400 South Emerson Street
Denver  CO  80210

This is the Built Green program which encourages green building practices and actively promotes member builders.  They provide a checklist for new construction which is very useful for anyone, and a certification program to help with marketing, sales, etc.  you have to pay to join the program and to list your projects.

Colorado Renewable Energy Society
PO Box 933
Golden  CO  80402

This is the local chapter of the American Solar Energy Society.  Promotes photovoltaic building practices and products and publishes a directory of Colorado PV professionals.

Smart Shelter Network
684  6530 Road
Montrose  CO  81401

Local listing of environmental professionals by Gary Duncan.  You pay to be a member.

Rocky Mountain Institute
1739 Snowmass Creek Road
Snowmass  CO  81654

These are the smartest people on the planet (Amory and Hunter Lovins).  they have info, books, connections, knowledge,  and more, all related to sustainability and related issues.  their books on sustainable development and business are world-renown.  they also have a sustainable building research program called the Rocky Mountain Solutions Fund.


Southwest Solaradobe School
PO Box 153
Bosque  NM  87006
(505) 861-1255

Classes on rammed earth and other earth wall construction technology and codes.

Solar Energy International
PO Box 715
Carbondale  CO  81623
(970) 963-8855

These folks put on classes in solar power, natural home building, biodiesel, wind power and related areas.  They have classes for people wanting to design their own homes and projects, as well as professionals wanting to add skills and knowledge.

Sustainable Building Magazines

Natural Home Magazine
201 E. 4th Street
Loveland  CO  80537
(970) 669-7672 publisher
(800) 340-5846 subscriptions

This is a good magazine to get started with.  They have nice photos, good information and an easy style.  My only complaint is that the information is not deep enough and that they cater partially to the bored housewife set, including recipes and decorating ideas.

Solar Today
2400 Central Avenue, G1
Boulder  CO  80301-2843
(800) 394-5157 publisher
(303) 443-3130 subscriptions

Great magazine of solar power and photovoltaic technologies.  serious information, contact lists, links to professionals, etc.

Interamericas Adobe Builder
PO Box 153
Bosque  NM  87006
(505) 861-1255

This is a magazine dedicated to earth wall construction.  they frequently publish articles on codes and related areas of interest.  lots of pictures of projects underway or completed.  these are the same folks who do the Southwest Solaradobe School.  Well connected to builders and related professionals in the southwestern US.

Environmental Building News
122 Birge Street
Suite 30
Battleboro  VT  05301

These guys have lots of info, a newsletter / magazine, cd rom, directory, etc.
Their stuff is expensive but probably the best hardcore information out there.

Fine Homebuilding
The Taunton Press
PO Box 5506
Newtown  CT  06470
(800) 283-7252 office
(800) 888-8286 subscriptions and book orders

Although not strictly a green building magazine, fine homebuilding is the best home building and construction magazine around.  Their articles are top notch and well written, and the information is current and pertinent. The quality of the magazine is great, and the market is to professional builders and serious self-builders and hobbyists.  They also publish an extensive catalog of books published by the Taunton Press, all of which are top notch.

Home Power
PO Box 520
Ashland  OR  97520
(800) 707-6585

Nicely done magazine covering all kinds of alternative power (not just solar).  Good info on wind and microhydro systems.  Geared towards the conscientious do-it-yourselfer, but with plenty of serious information for professionals. I especially like their system schematics, which are the best drawn and easiest to read i have ever seen.


Iris Communications
PO Box 20
Lorane  OR  97451

These guys sell the best books and videos, all related to environmental construction. The website is also slated to expand to covering green building topics, materials and more as a resource site, and should have links to lots of good stuff.  

Chelsea Green Publishing
PO Box 428
White River Junction  VT  05001

A fantastic publisher of books on environmental issues, green building, etc.  Check it out.

Green Building Resource Directories

Green Spec Directory
by Building Green

Available through Environmental Building News or Building Green at 800-861-0954.
PB 94.00.
Professional compendium of products and specifications for green products. Excellent.

Solar Living Sourcebook
by Real Goods

Available through Chelsea Green Publishing or Real Goods.
PB 30.00
Fantastic book with lots of information and lots of products, all sold by Real Goods.

Green Building Sourcebook
by Ross Spiegel and Dru Meadows

Available through Wiley Publishing or
HC 75.00.
Serious textbook for architects and professionals, with good info on specifications.

National Green Pages
by Co-op America

Available through Co-op America at 800-584-7336.
PB 5.95.
A phone book of sorts, listing every category of environmentally responsible product.

Eco Design  : The Sourcebook
by Alistair Fuad-Luke

Available at
PB 35.00.
Incredible worldwide listing of everything eco friendly and cool with lots of neat pictures

Alternative Building Sourcebook
by Steve Chappell

Published by Fox Maple Press of Brownfield Maine.
Out of print.

Interior Concerns Resource Guide
by Victoria Schomer

Published by Interior Concerns of Mill Valley California.
Out of print.

Green Building Resource Guide
by John Hermannsson

Published by Taunton Press.
Out of print.

Sustainable Building Books

The following is a list of some of the better environmental design and construction books I own and / or have read.  It is by no means an exhaustive or all-inclusive list, but a start down the path. I have provided a description of each book. My description is based on my own biases and opinions, which relate to my likes and dislikes, and to my background as a building contractor.  

Happy reading ! -- David Holubetz

A Pattern Language
by Christopher Alexander and friends

This is the single most important book i have ever read, and i have read a lot of books about design and construction of buildings.  Mandatory for any student of architecture.  This is the book that made me want to be a builder.  It breaks down all of the design details of construction into patterns which can be easily understood and assembled into a project's descriptive language. The patterns are timeless, existing through all cultures from the start of settled communities. The book progresses from the layout of towns and villages to streets, public areas, buildings, houses, rooms and finally features of rooms. These people were world-changers in the 70's.  

The Natural House
by David Pearson

This is a great primer on natural house building. it talks about materials and methods more than about design or any one aspect of construction. It is full of color pictures and descriptions of different materials. It is easy to approach and use, and will quickly bring you into the loop. Highly recommended for newcomers to the environmental building circle.

The Natural House Catalog
by David Pearson

Companion to the natural house, this book is more focused on sourcing products. lots of good photos and information. Like the natural house, the layout is well-conceived and tastefully produced. Highly recommended.

The Not So Big House and Creating The Not So Big House
both by Susan Saranka

Great books on design and planning of houses, organized under the thought that it is better to build a smaller house that fits the needs of the user and build it well than to just go for square footage.I like her design ideas, and the high quality she gets out of the projects. She is a very successful architect.

The Independent Home
by Michael Potts

This is a good primer on alternative energy and other systems. A good place to start to learn about solar and wind and water power and the related design and construction factors. Geared towards off-the-gridliving.  Lots of case stories of people who have done it and how the different ideas and technologies working daily practice.  Published by Chelsea Green and Real Goods.

Design Outlaws on the Ecological Frontier
by Chris Zelov and Phil Cousineau

This will get you psyched. This will make you want to take chances, to stretch your imagination and to try things that may not work. These are the people who are at the edge of experimentation with design and building and energy and gardening and all the related areas. Really cool. There is a video too, which I have and which is really neat.

Your Natural Home
by Janet Marinelli and Paul Bierman-Lytle

Another great primer on natural and environmentally-friendly construction. Talks about materials and embodied energy costs, appropriate methods, etc.  Well done and nicely organized.  Will whet your appetite for more, and for actually doing it now that you've read about it

The Passive Solar House
by James Kachadorian

This is another real goods book, and it's by far the best on passive solar design. This is where you should start. Active solar is great, but without passive solar, everything else is just trying to make up for bad preliminary design. Should be required reading for anyone allowed to build in the countryside.

New Organic Architecture - The Breaking Wave
by David Pearson

His new book on architects who are pushing the boundaries of what is natural architecture. Lots of free form organic curving shapes and structures. Not really a practical book, but one to feed the right side of your brain and break down a lifetime of societal conditioning.  Highly recommended.

Shelter, Shelter II and Homework
by Lloyd Kahn, Jr.

Seminal books on human shelter from ancient times. Incredible photos and drawings. Mind candy in the best sense of the term. Highly recommended.

The Healthy House and Healthy House Building
both by John Bower

Not very visually exciting, but the best books around on indoor air quality and creating good IAQ with the proper materials and methods and systems. Lots of serious information. How to cure sick buildings. How to build right from the start to accommodate environmentally sensitive people.  

Homemade Money
by Richard Heede and the folks at RMI

Another great book from Rocky Mountain Institute, this one on how to save energy in the home by implementing good building and conservation techniques. Well thought out and well written with real usable information.

All of the Books
by Francis DK Ching

If you are serious about architecture and drafting, start with Ching. He is the master, the best draftsperson of all time. I use his books constantly. Start with architecture : form space and order, and then get building construction illustrated and drawing : a creative process and architectural graphics and for a visual treat try a visual dictionary of architecture. If you can spend time with these books and not want to draw, something's wrong.

The Straw Bale House
by Athena and Bill Steen and David Bainbridge

The serious straw bale book. These guys are leading the field. Lots of good info, pictures, resources, etc.  Another real goods book. Check the info with current codes and practices, as some of the info and techniques are old.

Simply Build Green
by John Talbot and the Findhorn Foundation

An interesting take on green building.  Findhorn is a community in Scotland and they are building in an ecologically sensitive way. Kind of a hippie commune, but with smart people who are doing real good. The book is published in UK and so some of the info is irrelevant for US builders.

Earth Construction
by Hugo Houben and Hubert Guillaud

This is the primer on earth building.  It's a serious book.  No color pictures, no hype about building your own mud hut for pocket change. Technical information and drawings, materials, methods and history. The best comparison of all the types of earth and earth hybrid construction. Recommended for the professional builder or serious student of earthen construction, but probably too much for the armchair builder.

The Rammed Earth House
by David Easton

This is where to get your info on rammed earth. I think that RE is the best of the alternative envelope construction methods. The houses look clean and modern, they are strong and stable, the thick walls are good moderators of temperature, the construction is inherently fireproof and rot resistant. Easton and his company are at the forefront, and it shows in this book.

Green Development
by Rocky Mountain Institute

All developers should read this book. All realtors should read this book. Anyone who has the money or power to alter the fabric of our communities or rural landscape should read this book. City planners, builders, investment bankers ... the list goes on.  Best book out there on conceiving, designing, constructing and selling ecological real estate projects.

A Shelter Sketchbook
by John Taylor

Neat little book with great drawings.  very informally arranged survey of how people have solved the enduring problems faced in designing and constructing buildings all over the world, throughout time.  A small gem.

Nontoxic, Natural and Earthwise
by Debra Lynn Dadd

Guide to how to live lightly and toxin-free. Geared towards consumers and homeowners, but lots of good info that everyone should know. They should teach this stuff in school instead of the jewel poetry block.  Iimagine a world of kids growing up knowing how to recycle, what health and beauty aids to buy, what foods and other products to just say no to. Exhaustively researched, but remember that resource lists get outdated pretty quick.

A Primer On Sustainable Building
Rocky Mountain Institute

Just what it says it is, a primer.  If you know very little about building green and the related concerns of ecological design and construction, this would be a good place to start. No photos but still useful.

Designing Your Natural House
by Malcolm Wells and Charles Woods

This is a cool book. Random in layout and hand drawn and lettered, these two counter culture geniuses tear apart the way buildings are designed and put it all back together in a creative and mostly sensible way.  My hat is off to these guys, even though i don't always agree with their recommendations.

The Earth-Sheltered House
by Malcolm Wells

Great book on underground or semi-underground houses. Hand drawn and lettered and very opinionated. Also recounts many of his designs which were conceived and proposed but never built. The frustrated genius.

Green Home
by Wayne Grady

Another book on planning and building the environmentally friendly house.  When i saw this i didn't think much - no pictures, no photos, small and textual and from Canada.  Turns out that I learned a lot and got some good ideas from these guys who built a house as part of a national energy efficiency contest. Their suggestions and recounts of trials make good reading, even for a jaded old sap like me.

The Pedestrian Pocket Handbook
Princeton Architectural Press

A little book with a big view of urban planning, zoning and development as it impacts quality of life and personal movement in the cityscape. Very good.

Your Home, Your Health and Well Being
by David Rousseau and W. J. Rea

Lots of good information on indoor air quality and construction choices. The type of info that every home owner should know before they buy or build a new house. Good info for renovators as well. Covers a lot of ground pretty well, but serious builders may find it lacking in technical detail and depth.

Cradle to Cradle
by William McDonough and  Michael Braungart

Great new book on rethinking the entire process of demand, supply and discard. This book will open your eyes to the crazy and unsustainable world we have created.  The solutions proposed are both simple and complex, and I wonder if we will make them of our own accord, or if the impending disaster we face will force them upon us. Highly recommended.

The Ecology of Architecture
by Laura Zeiher

What a joy to find something written for intelligent professionals.  Now if only I could learn me to read past 4th grade level !  Directed towards architects and design build firms, this book shows what is possible in design and architecture if you are intelligent, diligent and well-funded.  Examples from all over the world of contemporary work by the best. Cool pictures and serious info make this my current favorite.

The Healthy House
by Sydney and Joan Baggs

A nice large book with lots of photos and good information. Leans towards the new age style of spiritual siting and all that, but the photos and general feel of the book are good. One of those books to get you psyched and provide a lot of basic information but not damage your brain.

Running A Successful Construction Company
by David Gerstel

A  Fine Homebuilding book.  If you ever dream of being a builder, a general contractor - read this first. When i started my business ten years ago, this was my bible.  I'd like to say that I avoided all trouble because of it, but all i can really claim is that I'm still in business, largely thanks to this book. The kind of info you need, and which would take you years of combing other books and translation to be relevant for the business of building construction. Well written, well organized, and all by a builder who has my ultimate respect.

The Cobber's Companion
by Michael G. Smith

This is hippie mud hut building at its best. A good place to start if you are interested in cob building, which is probably the easiest and lowest cost of the earth wall systems.  This book has lots of good info and drawings which help to explain the materials and methods.

Places of the Soul
by Christopher Day

Architecture and environment as a healing art.  Not really a book on architecture or building, but more a book to make you rethink structures, housing, urban design, planning, interiors, space layout, etc., all with the intent of creating spaces which nourish the souls of the occupants.  Nice.

Dwelling, Place and Environment
by David Seamon and Robert Mugerauer

A scholarly look at how the layout and structure of our environment creates and defines us as people. A series of essays on different aspects, in different locations and through time, all footnoted. Interesting to someone who wants to take it all to a psycho-emotional-spiritual level.

Geography of Nowhere and Home From Nowhere
both by James Kunstler

A depressing but enlightening look at the homogenization of the american landscape by cookie cutter construction and automobile centricity.  Eye opening reading.

Natural Capitalism
by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute

Another amazing book from RMI, this one on business and sustainability. Reading this kind of stuff will both depress and enthuse you, as you see how the world could be, how it is, and then how to remake it. Now get going!

Sustainable Architecture White Pages
by Various Authors, published by the Earth Pledge Foundation

A collection of articles on sustainable design, architecture and construction.  the range of topics is broad. What I really like about this book is that even though the range of the topics is broad, the depth of each article is substantial enough to actually give you good information and make you see things sometimes in a new or different way.

Green Architecture
by James Wines

Another nice book of projects and architects. Covers the important ground and shows examples of success stories. Philosophy and politics thrown in for good measure. Contemporary architects and contemporary projects make for an interesting book.

HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design
by Sandra Mendler and William Odell

Large, expensive, cool book of projects by the international architecture and engineering firm HOK. Shows exactly what the considerations were for each project and how solutions were arrived at and implemented, and followup on occupant utility. This is the epitome of sustainable design and construction.  you may not like the size of the projects or the use, but these large projects are going to be built and we are lucky that a few firms are going to do it right, or at least closer to right. An intense read.

Structural Insulated Panels
by Michael Morley

SIPS are becoming more prevalant in the building of ecologically sound and environmentally efficient structures. This book lays out the information in a logical way and has lots of drawings and pictures to help the designer and installer get their hands around the materials and methods. Somewhat dated in that it doesn't have info on agriboard, but otherwise a great book.

Prescriptions for a Healthy House
by Paula Baker-LaPorte, Erica Elliot and John Banta

This is very highly recommended for anyone with chemical sensitivities or air quality concerns. We used this book to build a nontoxic house for a couple who were very sensitive and they were happy with the results. Has lots of sources for materials, and comments by the authors on what is best. Very good.

The Natural Plaster Book
by Cedar Rose Guelberth and Dan Chiras

There are a number of good plaster books out there, but none that addresses natural plasters as well as this.  Cedar Rose is an expert earth plasterer, and has given workshops all over the country.  For anyone building an earthen house or considering earth plasters, this book will be a godsend.

ICF Answer Book for Homebuyers
by Build Central Inc.

This is not the best book, but one of the only ones i know of to deal specifically with ICF construction.  Useful for general information, but you will want to get the manufacturer's design / installation manual for the system you end up using.

Moisture Control Handbook
by Joseph Lstiburek and John Carmody

This is not an easy read, but contains the most scientific and concise information available on moisture problems and how to design and build to avoid them.  these guys are building scientists and they take their work very seriously.  With the increasing number of health complaints, callbacks and even lawsuits regarding mold and moisture problems, this book is worth the money and time to read it.

Building for a Lifetime
by Margaret Wylde, Adrian Baron-Robbins and Sam Clark

This is a good book on building for handicapped folks.  it includes info on the American Disabilities Act, which governs commercial buildings, and on code compliance for challenged individuals. Perhaps more valuable to a general readership is the concept of designing and building for universal accessibility, which includes children, old people and anyone who has special needs. The book really makes you rethink how we design and build our environments for a very limited norm and ignore everyone else.

Understanding Ventilation
by John Bower

Another book on a subject we probably don't know enough about. Poor ventilation leads to poor indoor air quality which leads to poor quality of life for the inhabitants. john bower is an expert on healthy house building, and he applies all his skill to the topic of ventilation. Highly recommended for anyone serious about high performance construction.

Optimum Environments for Optimum Health and Creativity
by William J. Rea, MD

Another guidebook to building a healthy house, this one by the founder of a company that sells healthy house building materials and supplies. Lots of pictures and good information. Some of the techniques are pretty involved, but for anyone with serious health problems or indoor air quality concerns, this is a great resource.

Building for Cold Climates
by Joseph Lstiburek

The science of building construction explained in diagrams and drafting.  high performance, high efficiency construction techniques. This is the real deal. For expert builders who want to take it to the highest level. Should be required reading for every architect practising in cold climates anywhere in the world.


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