Bruce Anderson: Author of The Solar Home Book

A Plowboy Interview with architect and Total Environmental Action business owner Bruce Anderson, author of "The Solar Home Book," published in 1975.

| July/August 1978

  • A Plowboy Interview with Bruce Anderson, author of The Solar Home Book.
    A Plowboy Interview with Bruce Anderson, author of The Solar Home Book.
    Photo by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • A Plowboy Interview with Bruce Anderson, author of The Solar Home Book.

This Plowboy Interview showcases Bruce Anderson, author of The Solar Home Book.

Bruce Anderson Author of The Solar Home Book

In 1974, the prestigious research firm of Arthur D. Little, Inc. hired a young MIT graduate in architecture to write a definitive, full-length handbook on solar building design. And that graduate — Bruce N. Anderson — labored for a year to produce a manuscript consisting of 800 typed pages and 500 illustrations. One week after the work was handed in, however, Arthur D. Little closed down its publishing operation . . . and Bruce Anderson was left without a sponsor.

Fortunately for the whole solar energy movement, the mere cop-out of his original publisher did not keep Anderson from going ahead and doing something worthwhile with his manuscript. In the fall of 1975, in fact — backed by two friends (Richard Katzenberg and Michael Riordan) — Bruce Anderson self-published the mountain of material he'd assembled under the revised title of The Solar Home Book.

Almost the instant it came off the press, The Solar Home Book was a success. "Before you build or buy a new house, you should read this book," Wilson Clark (a noted environmentalist) wrote in a review. Popular Science and The New York Times heralded Anderson's treatise as "the best book yet on solar." Even the staid Library Journal rated Bruce's effort "among the best of the new books on solar energy as a viable alternative energy source for homeowners".

By publishing-industry standards, The Solar Home Book — which has now sold in excess of 125,000 copies at $7.50 each — is a spectacular achievement. By anyone's standards, it is an important book.

No less spectacular or important than Bruce Anderson's original publishing success, however, is the success he has met while promoting solar energy via other means. In 1974, for example, Bruce founded his own architectural design and consulting firm: Total Environmental Action, Inc. Since then, TEA (which now employs 30 people) has grown to become a several-hundred-thousand-dollar-a-year business made up of a solar bookshop, a publishing arm, and a non — profit foundation.

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