For an invigorating tour of green houses around the world, pick up a copy of New Green Homes: The Latest in Sustainable Living by Sergi Costa Duran (Collins Design, $39.99). You can rest assured that your purchase will leave a small carbon footprint; according to the publisher, the book is printed on paper made to rigorous environmental standards.
The paper isn't the book's only green feature. This sequel to the 2007 title Green Homes: New Ideas for Sustainable Living (Collins Design, $35) covers 25 modern homes in varying climates and site conditions, each one with a carefully tailored sustainable strategy.
A Los Angeles residence by Belzberg Architects, for example, utilizes passive solar design, local materials, natural ventilation, and xeriscaping, while also repurposing the granite removed during excavation. And a rammed-earth house in Australia by Nicholas Burns Associates captures and treats rainwater. Generally, the book emphasizes holistic solutions that embrace local landscape and climate, rather than high-tech bells and whistles.
New Green Homes gets into just enough detail to satisfy architect readers, providing diagrams, drawings, plans, and sections to explain each home's idiosyncrasies. It also provides a handy, at-a-glance guide at the beginning of each write-up that summarizes the project's green highlights. Of course, all of these visual aids serve to supplement high-quality color photography, which shows up nicely on that eco-conscious paper.
Projects from Central and South America, Australia, and Europe balance out the seven U.S. houses, most of which are located in California. No matter what part of the planet they occupy, these interesting buildings will inspire architects and homeowners alike. The latter's interest in sustainable design is particularly crucial to reducing homes' overall impact on the planet, as the Chilean architect Guillermo Hevia Hernández eloquently acknowledges in his preface. "Only real demand coming from society can bring about large-scale research and, consequently, drive us toward changing the current situation," he writes.