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Home > Browse By Topic > Green Homes > Design, Planning, Contracting > Design & Planning Books
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Before you build your home, read this definitive guide to designing with the sun in mind by Mother Earth News contributing editor Dan Chiras. Learn how you can cut your energy bills in half by choosin…
Before you build your home, read this definitive guide to designing with the sun in mind by Mother Earth News contributing editor Dan Chiras. Learn how you can cut your energy bills in half by choosing the best passive solar heating and cooling techniques.
Passive solar heating and passive cooling — approaches known as natural conditioning — provide comfort throughout the year by reducing, or eliminating, the need for fossil fuel. Yet while heat from sunlight and ventilation from breezes is free for the taking, few modern architects or builders really understand the principles involved.
Now Chiras, author of the popular book The Natural House, brings those principles up to date for a new generation of solar enthusiasts.
The techniques required to heat and cool a building passively have been used for thousands of years. Early societies such as the Native American Anasazis and the ancient Greeks perfected designs that effectively exploited these natural processes. The Greeks considered anyone who didn't use passive solar to heat a home to be a barbarian!
In the United States, passive solar architecture experienced a major resurgence of interest in the 1970s in response to crippling oil embargoes. With grand enthusiasm but with scant knowledge (and sometimes little common sense), architects and builders created a wide variety of solar homes. Some worked pretty well, but looked more like laboratories than houses. Others performed poorly, overheating in the summer because of excessive or misplaced windows and skylights, and growing chilly in the colder months because of insufficient thermal mass and insulation and poor siting.
In The Solar House, Chiras sets the record straight on the vast potential for passive heating and cooling. Acknowledging the good intentions of misguided solar designers in the past, he highlights certain egregious — and entirely avoidable — errors. More importantly, Chiras explains in methodical detail how today's home builders can succeed with solar designs.
Now that energy efficiency measures including higher levels of insulation and multilayered glazing have become standard, it is easier than ever before to create a comfortable and affordable passive solar house that will provide year-round comfort in any climate.
Moreover, because modern building materials and airtight construction methods sometimes result in air-quality and even toxicity problems, Chiras explains state-of-the-art ventilation and filtering techniques that complement the ancient solar strategies of thermal mass and daylighting. Chiras also explains the new diagnostic aids available in printed worksheet or software formats, allowing readers to generate their own design schemes.
About the author
Daniel D. Chiras is the author of The Natural House. He holds a doctorate in physiology and teaches courses on sustainability and environmental health at the Universities of Colorado and the University of Denver. He is the author of five college and high school textbooks as well as other books on global environmental issues. Chiras is also an avid musician, organic gardener, river runner and bicyclist. He lives with his family in a passive solar/solar electric, straw bale and rammed tire house in Evergreen, Colo.
A great overview of green building techniques, materials, products and technologies that are either currently available or will be in the near future. Author Dan Chiras provides practical information…
A great overview of green building techniques, materials, products and technologies that are either currently available or will be in the near future. Author Dan Chiras provides practical information for home buyers, owner-builders and anyone interested in building for a sustainable future.
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Create a gorgeous and greener home with the help of Green Remodeling, a Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living. It…
Create a gorgeous and greener home with the help of Green Remodeling, a Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living. It includes energy-efficient, healthful and attractive choices in building materials, heating and cooling systems and appliances. It's easy-to-read and well illustrated.
Whether because of changing lifestyles or simply because houses are becoming outdated, millions of North Americans are renovating their homes every year, spending more money annually on renovation than on new home construction. But renovations can be fraught with unintended consequences like indoor air pollution. How do you remodel in a healthy, environmentally friendly way?
Green Remodeling is a comprehensive guide. It first points out the advantages of remodeling. Buildings are responsible for 40% of worldwide energy flow and material use, so how you remodel can make a difference. Upgrading furnaces, cabinets and toilets means less fossil fuel pollution, reduced resource depletion and fewer health risks. Green remodeling is more energy-efficient, more resource-conserving, healthier for occupants, and more affordable to create, operate and maintain.
Green Remodeling then discusses simple green renovation solutions for homeowners, focusing on key aspects of the building - including foundations, framing, plumbing, windows, heating and finishes. Room by room, it outlines the intricate connections that make the house work as a system. For example, how new windows may affect the structure and mechanical systems of the rooms below, the health of the family, and the future of old-growth forests. Then, in an easy-to-read format complete with checklists, personal stories, expert insights and an extensive resource list, it covers easy ways to save energy, conserve natural resources and protect the health of loved ones. Addressing all climates, this is a perfect resource for conventional homeowners, as well as architects and remodeling contractors.
About the authors:
David Johnston has been developing green building programs for the last 10 years. Named one of the top 50 remodelers in the country by Remodeling Magazine in 1990, he developed the first green remodeling program in the country in Boulder, Colorado. He trains remodelers across the U.S. and is creating a national green certification program for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. He is president of What's Working and Lightworks Construction, Inc. He is from Boulder, Colorado.
Kim Master is a Green Building Consultant and Senior Associate with What's Working. She was previously Ecommerce/Project Manager with Care2.com, the largest environmental website for healthy living and a healthy planet. She is from Boulder, Colorado.
Cob cottages are the ultimate expression of ecological design. Made of earth, clay, sand, straw and water, they are their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. These houses are light, ener…
Cob cottages are the ultimate expression of ecological design. Made of earth, clay, sand, straw and water, they are their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. These houses are light, energy-efficient and cozy, with curved walls and built-in whimsical touches.
The Hand-Sculpted House is theoretical and philosophical, but intensely practical as well. You will get all the how-to information to undertake an earth and straw building project. As the modern world rediscovers the importance of living in sustainable harmony with the environment, this book is a bible of radical simplicity.
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This guide brings earth-sheltered construction up-to-date for those who want to build their own underground home at …
This guide brings earth-sheltered construction up-to-date for those who want to build their own underground home at a moderate cost. It covers all the various construction techniques, including details on planning, excavation, footings, floor, walls, framing, roofing, waterproofing, insulation and drainage.
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More and more homeowners today want houses that are healthy to live in and cause minimal damage to the environment. …
More and more homeowners today want houses that are healthy to live in and cause minimal damage to the environment. That's what green building is all about.
Your Green Home, a Mother Earth News Book for Wiser Living is written for homeowners planning a new home — whether you are working with an architect or builder, or serving as your own general contractor. Intended to improve the overall environmental performance of new houses being built, the book sets out to answer some of the big-picture questions relating to having a home designed and built — and getting what you want.
Your Green Home covers:
A continuation of Lloyd Kahn's journeys into the creative processes of owner-built homes - their innovative techniques, use of sustainable materials, and essential dedication to the natural elements s…
A continuation of Lloyd Kahn's journeys into the creative processes of owner-built homes - their innovative techniques, use of sustainable materials, and essential dedication to the natural elements surrounding their designs - Builders of the Pacific Coast explores the aesthetics and techniques of three master builders in California, Washington state, and the rugged terrain of British Columbia.
The three featured craftsmen - Lloyd House, Bruce Atkey, and Sun Ray Kelley - combine imaginative architecture with innovative contexts: everything from unusual house-boats to sculptural dwellings made of driftwood are included. With stunning color and black-and-white photographs, as well as detailed black-and-white drawings of the homes, this collection of unique and progressive designs creates a template for a future filled with forward-thinking architecture.
The Earth-Sheltered House is a classic in the annals of sustainable building books, written by a legend in the field of sustainable architecture. Malcolm Wells had a fundamentally different way of loo…
The Earth-Sheltered House is a classic in the annals of sustainable building books, written by a legend in the field of sustainable architecture. Malcolm Wells had a fundamentally different way of looking at the design and building process, and his iconoclastic perspective has never been more apparent.
Wells’ work is revolutionary, but readers will find his message to be pure common sense. Earth sheltering offers superior comfort with minimal energy input, and it is adaptable to diverse terrains as well as a variety of architectural aesthetics.
This architect's sketchbook will show you how you can build underground homes of different styles. Complete with floor plans, elevation drawings and detailed diagrams, this book is a necessary resource for anyone who is considering building green.
An architect by trade, Wells lived in The Underground Art Gallery, in Brewster, Massachusetts, and wrote several books about this subject, which he began promoting in 1964. He was a pioneer of underground building and natural design. His best-selling books include Gentle Architecture and How to Build an Underground House. The Earth-Sheltered House is scanned from his own handwritten and illustrated pages.
Architect David Wright helped pioneer the concept of passive solar architecture, and his thoughts and experiments have helped shape the evolution of solar design throughout the world. His years of exp…
Architect David Wright helped pioneer the concept of passive solar architecture, and his thoughts and experiments have helped shape the evolution of solar design throughout the world. His years of exploration are distilled in this comprehensive book, which provides simple graphics and language to illuminate concepts including greenhouse effect, heat storage, surface-to-volume ratio, ventilation and cooling.Tips, rules-of-thumb, regional characteristics and many other considerations are presented to help readers, from initial site selection to visionary design. Written for architects, designers and others who seek to tap the free resources offered by earth and sun, this invaluable tool will help reduce dependence on outside energy sources. You will be inspired.
Compact Cabins presents 62 design interpretations of the getaway dream. Whether it be a small cabin on a sparkling lakefront, a breath-taking mountaintop, an expansive beach, or some other peaceful lo…
Compact Cabins presents 62 design interpretations of the getaway dream. Whether it be a small cabin on a sparkling lakefront, a breath-taking mountaintop, an expansive beach, or some other peaceful location, there is something here to please every taste. Best of all, these small-footprint designs are affordable and energy-efficient without skimping on comfort and style. The cabins range in size form a cozy 150 square feet to a more spacious but still economical 1,000 square feet, and all include sleeping accommodations, kitchen and bath facilities, and a heat source. Complete chapters on low-maintenance building materials, utilities and appliances, and alternative energy sources supply you with the options for living efficiently in small space.
For every design, you will find floor plans with detailed suggestions for designing the space for optimal use. These plans are flexible: many feature modular elements that can be mixed and matched to accommodate your particular needs or hobbies. Features such as an outdoor fireplace, covered porch, or external storage locker might work nicely in several cabin designs. It's all about enhancing and maximizing small spaces to your individual needs and preferences.
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