A Green Vitruvius

Cover, A Green Vitruvius

Author: J. Owen Lewis

ISBN: 187393694X

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Two thousand years ago the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio wrote the first book on architecture. It established the concept of the pattern book — showing design principles and solutions. This publication is today’s pattern book of green design.

Sustainable architecture offers more than simply environmental benefits. It creates place-sensitive buildings, a location-specific architecture responding to local climatic conditions and using local materials instead of global cookie-cutter solutions. It also offers better architectural quality with more natural and fewer artificial inputs. Less is more, and less is beautiful.

The book is divided into four sections, which structure advice according to the design and construction process, the issues to be considered, the strategies to be adopted and the elements of green design. A fifth section advises on design evaluation.

Sustainability is one of many considerations for the practicing architect. This book is for the experienced practitioner anywhere who wishes to make a more sustainable architecture whether or not they have yet acquired any particular expertise in the subject. It will also serve as a valuable introduction to the subject, and provide a clear and attractive text for students. Published in the United Kingdom.

176 pages, 1999

… A Green Vitruvius is a wonderful resource that certainly lives up to its subtitle … Environmental Building News

The Straw Bale House: Designing and Building with a Resource-Efficient Material

The Straw Bale House: Designing and Building with a Resource-Efficient Material

The Straw Bale House: Designing and Building with a Resource-Efficient Material

Author(s): Athena and Bill Steen, David Bainbridge, David Eisenberg

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing

Paperback: 320 pages

ISBN: 0930031717

ISBN-13: 978-0930031718

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The Straw Bale House: Designing and Building with a Resource-Efficient Material

by Athena and Bill Steen, David Bainbridge, with David. Eisenberg.

Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 1995.

This is a comprehensive 300 page manual providing a broad overview of straw bale construction, and its related components. Loaded with over 250 black & white and color photos, illustrations and sample floor plans, it profiles a large collection of straw bale houses. The book contains a brief history, benefits and concerns, basic considerations (including passive solar), a how-to for bale wall systems, and options for foundations, floors, doors and windows, roofs, and wall finishes.


Get a leg up on the first Little Pig with The Straw Bale House, your guide to inexpensive, durable, earth-friendly construction that will stand up to much more than the Big Bad Wolf. Authors Athena Swentzell Steen and Bill Steen founded the Canelo Project, which promotes innovative building; David Bainbridge is a California restoration ecologist; and David Eisenberg is an alternative-materials builder who pioneered straw bale wall testing. Between them, they have encyclopedic knowledge of their subject. The book is comprehensive, broadly covering why and how to build with straw and then focusing on the details, which are both intellectually and aesthetically delightful.Beside being cheap, clean, and lightweight, straw also provides advantages like energy efficiency and resistance to seismic stresses. For the nervous Martha Stewart types, there are scads of black-and-white and color plates of strikingly beautiful interiors and exteriors from New Mexico to southern France. Both new and experienced builders will appreciate the clear, simple instructions and diagrams, as well as practical explanations for dealing with building codes and insurers. The Straw Bale House shows us advantages so numerous and dramatic that you’ll wonder why we ever moved on to sticks and bricks. –Rob Lightner


Using plastered straw bales as building materials for a home may not sound stable or long-lasting, but these can be used for a variety of purposes from adjacent buildings to entire houses, can be used with relatively little experience, and have many attributes; from super-insulation to cheap construction. Applications are more useful for the Southwest region but ideas may transfer to other U. S. locales. The book’s price tag seems high for a paperback, but this goes in great detail on a subject which is fairly understated in most construction or homeowner’s guides. — Midwest Book Review

Adding to a House: Planning, Design, & Construction

Cover, Adding to a House

Publisher: Fine Homebuilding

ISBN: 1561580724

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One of the best ways to combat urban sprawl and save money is to recycle an old home. Often older homes seem inadequate because of lack of space or facilities (such as bathrooms, offices, utility rooms, etc.). In Adding to a House, designer/builder Philip Wenz gives you the benefit of his 20 years of building experience. He explains how to:

      Evaluate a house for its addition potential, in terms of its resale value and the condition of the structure and site.
      Design the addition for continuity with the existing house.
      Avoid costly mistakes that leave the house in worse shape than when the project began.
      Accurately estimate the cost of any type of addition.
      Ensure that the addition conforms to local building codes and zoning regulations.
      Make connections between the old and new foundations, framing and roofs.

Now all the essential information about residential additions can be found in one book. 263 pages, 1995

Living Spaces: Ecological Building and Design

Cover, Living Spaces: Ecological Building and DesignAuthor(s): L. Abraham and T. Fisher

ISBN: 3895089257
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Living Spaces: Ecological Building and Design adapted from Germany by L. Abraham. T., Fisher .

This dense, spectacular, full color edition covers everything including stone, clay, cob, timberframe, brick and other natural techniques. Discusses sustainability, the basics of design, materials, solar, thermal, acoustical, moisture, cost effectiveness, repair, energy efficiency, and so much more.

(Natural pigments from plants, water systems, recycling old doors, windows, modern electrical products, materials in bedding, insulation composting, fuel, and facade design. Over 480 pages with unique photos of European and other houses throughout, bibliography, resources, index.

(I especially liked the reed matting and clay daub photos indicating how very old styles can be used today (pgs 93-95). Hardbound, oversize,

More Other Homes and Garbage: Designs for Self-Sufficient Living, Complete Revised, Expanded, and Updated

More Other Homes and Garbage: Designs for Self-Sufficient LivingAuthor(s): Jim Leckie

Publisher: Sierra Club Books

ISBN: 087156274X

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“daphage” (Ithaca, NY)

While ageless classics exist, I must deduct one star per 25 year for technical manuals. This however is a library of practical knowledge in one book. This book from ’75 found the perfect balance between techno-engineering texts that no one could read and the books that told you to conserve energy without any real direction or practicality. This book gives practical design tips and easy to use formulas for everything from designing passive solar collectors to generating your own electricity to methane digesters and other waste handling techniques. Water supplies, photovoltaics, house insulation and even placing windbreaks around your house to both cool in the summer and protect in the winter are covered!

I used this book as a text in my Renewable Energy Systems course and learned more practical knowledge from it than I think I have in my 4 years at Cornell! Highly recommended and I hope people will buy it so we can get it back in print!

The Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically-Sound Home Environment

Cover, The Natural House Book : Creating a Healthy, Harmonious,  and Ecologically-Sound Home Environment Author(s): David Pearson, Malcolm Wells

Publisher: Fireside

ISBN: 0671666355

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The Natural House Book: Creating a Healthy, Harmonious, and Ecologically-Sound Home Environment

Paperback, 287 pages
Publication date: October 1989

Here is the first guide to redecorating any house or apartment to create a sanctuary that enhances physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. 105 four-color photographs. 10 four-color charts. 80 one-color illustrations.

Booknews, Inc., 02/01/90:
Numerous illustrations and informative text give decorating and designing guidance. A thorough, useful work at a low price. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

Homing Instinct: Using Your Lifestyle to Design & Build Your Home

Homing Instinct: Using Your Lifestyle to Design & Build Your Home


Homing Instinct: Using Your Lifestyle to Design & Build Your HomeAuthor(s): John Connell

Paperback: 448 pages

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional; 1 edition (December 31, 1998)

ISBN: 0070123462

ISBN-13: 978-0070123465

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Although it’s not a “how-to” book, Homing Instinct is filled with nuts-and-bolts details along with clever construction ideas. The book is really about the design and how to make the myriad choices that go into a home. At every step, Connell describes architectural fundamentals and effective building techniques to support your design decisions and resolve questions of cost, durability, design, intent and self-expression. You’ll see how things really work, from foundation and framing, to plumbing and electricity, to selecting the right materials and products. Concern for the environment is woven into every topic including passive solar energy, insulation, material selection, grey water treatment and much more. A robust appendix provides detailed design information, including a program questionnaire, heat loss calculations, span tables and foundation design. This richly detailed, forward-thinking book can help you create a house that perfectly expresses who you are–physically, emotionally and spiritually. 448 pages, 1998

The New Strawbale Home

The New Strawbale Home

The New Strawbale HomeAuthor(s): Catherine Wanek

Publisher: Gibbs Smith Publishers

ISBN: 1-58685-203-5

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Although strawbale construction is beginning to enter the mainstream, many people continue to wonder what a strawbale house looks like. The New Strawbale Home answers definitively, “Anything you want!” Innovative architects and builders are reinventing this century-old technology to create thick walled modern houses of unsurpassed natural beauty.

The New Strawbale Home compiles floor plans and images from forty cutting-edge homes across North America, from California to Quebec, New Mexico to New England, showcasing a spectrum of regional styles and personal aesthetic choices. This practical guide discusses varying climate considerations and essential design details for problem-free construction and low maintenace care, and also points out the ecologically friendly, energy-saving aspects of strawbale construction. The New Strawbale Home beautifully illustrates how building with strawbale allows for maximum personal creativity–whether the finished product is an urban home, a country hideaway, or anything in between.

Author and photographer Catherine Wanek organized the building of a strawbale greenhouse in 1992 and has been an advocate for strawbale construction ever since. She produced and directed the Building with Straw video series, and spent nearly five years publishing and editing The Last Straw Journal. Her first book, The Art of Natural Building was published in 2002. Wanek lives in Kingston, New Mexico.

Hardcover, 150 Color Photographs
8.5 x 10.75 in, 176 pages

Small Houses for the Next Century

Small Houses for the Next Century

Small Houses for the Next Century

Author(s): Duo Dickinson

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

ISBN: 0070168288

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Small Houses for the Next Century

2nd edition
January 1995

House sizes will shrink in the next century. Tight zoning restrictions, lack of available land, and cost constraints are just some of the factors affecting the trend to downsizing. Now, following in the success of The Small House, this vividly illustrated editon provides a road map to small house design in the twenty-first century.

The Owner Built Home

Cover, The Owner Built Home  - Original 1972 Edition

Author(s): Ken Kern

ISBN: 0686312201

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The Owner Built Home

10 Chapters: Building site, Planting Design, Climatology, Summer Cooling, Ventilation, Light & Shade, Central heating, Heating, Fireplac, Heat Circulatiing Fireplace,

Covers How to on: Adobe block, Pressed block (cinva ram) Rammed Earth, Stone Masonry, Masonry Block and brick, Concrete, Precast concrete panels,(tilt up concrete walls) Stone slipformss, Wood, Wood frame, Pole frame, Composite materials (early papercrete ideas), Plastics (shell & foam houses. Salvage materials(includes “zome “car tops design), Tools, Foundations, Floors, Walls, Wood floors, Masonry roofs, Stairs, Plumbing, Wiring and lighting, Light and color, DIY painting, Conclusion,110 pages, index, B&W photos and diagrams. Original book (used several in stock now.

This is the book that made Ken Kern famous! 6″x8” size, softcover. All in good or fair shape, some with underlining, marking, or scuffing as is expected from a heavily used “primer” on owner building!