22 Must Read Sustainability Books

FR_Visuals_FINALOne of my aims in writing FutuREstorative was to explore and encourage new thinking for sustainability in the built environment. In turn, inspiration for the book has, in part, come from a number of classic writers and books over the last half century or so, woven into FutuREstorative and into built environment sustainability potentials.

In addition to these books being powerful in shaping my thinking towards sustainability, they  often articulate alignment between nature, the outdoors, wildness and business sustainability.

The Bibliography in FutuREstorative gives a complete listing, but below are a sample 21 of the best, all worthy of making a great sustainable reading or gifts to inspire, as indeed would FutuREstorative!.  (Note the wonderful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve, simply as an additional gift to inspire)

Image 8.1a Book Shelf

Let my People go Surfing – Chouinard, Y.
Three books in one here, a biography, a mountain & surf adventure and a business sustainability philosophy. This is a must read for reluctant business CSR people.

Sand County Almanac – Leopold, A.
Recognised as the godfather of ecology, Sand County is the classic land ecology book. Classic quotes form Sand County include Thinking like a mountain and We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain.

Silent Spring – Carson, R.
First published in three serializsed excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962,this is the book that in many ways triggered the 1960s environmental protest movement. Still as valid today as we deal with persistent chemicals within the built environment materials

Cradle to Cradle – Remaking the Way We Make Things – Braggart, M. and W. McDonough Groundbreaking for the circular economy thinking, challenging the way we make and dispose of things.

Ecology of Commerce – Hawken, P
An important text that aligned ecology and environmental concerns with mainstream business. “if you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”

Biophilia – Wilson, E.O
Part autobiographical and personal, Wilson’s introduction to the love and relationship with nature, that introduced us to the concept of biophilia. “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even wellbeing. …”

Transition Handbook – Hopkins, R.
The original handbook for the now-global Transition movement, addressing actions required in transitioning to a post peak-oil economy. “… by unleashing collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively design our energy descent, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching and that recognize the biological limits of our planet.”

Wildwood – A Journey through Trees – Deakin, R.
Living with trees, an autobiography from one of the UK’s foremost environmentalist writers. “To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed

Revolutionary Engineering – Miller, M.
How the international engineering firm Intergral approach restorative sustainability. Included are case studies from their Living Building Challenge projects. Intégral: Revolutionary Engineering is for trailblazers who care about advancing the building and construction industry toward greater occupant health and happiness, and stronger resilience and regenerative systems.

Design with Climate: BioClimatic Architecture 2015 update – Olgyay, V.
Reprint of a classic 1960s text that inspired and promoted architectural design based on biology and climate. I was not fully aware of this important work until researching for a commissioned review

Biomimicry in Architecture, 2nd Edition – Palwyn, M.,
Insights into the amazing world and future potentials of biomimicry within the built environment

Feral – Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life. Monbiot, G.
Inspiration for restorative and regenerative environmentalism and conservatism through  Monbiot’s experience and passion on rewilding themes.

Tools for Grass Roots Activists. Gallagher, N. and L. Myers, P Brilliant collection of essays and tools from over two decades of the Patagonia invite-only Tools Conferences

Walden – Thoreau, H.D.
Recognised by many as being the classic work on environmental and conservation thinking. “We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder – Louv, R. 
Why we need biophilia in our and in our children’s everyday lives. “We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories”

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: How My Company and I Transformed Our Purpose, Sparked Innovation, and Grew Profits – By Respecting the Earth – Anderson, R.C. and R. White,
The guide that shaped and continues to inspire the values and ethos of Interface Inc. to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth

Landmarks – Macfarlane, R.
Why language and words are important to understanding our relationship with nature and landscapes. Certain books, like certain landscapes, stay with us even when we left them, changing not just our weathers but our climates.”

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate – Klein, N.
How capitalism and our economic structures are at the root cause of climate change.“So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now available to us.”

Responsible Business – Chouinard, Y. and V. Stanley
Background to the responsible business values and approaches at Patagonia. “At Patagonia, making a profit is not the goal because the Zen master would say profits happen ‘when you do everything else right.’”

Reinventing Fire – Lovins, A.
A route to a non fossil fuel future in four industries that includes the built environment. Reinventing Fire will require tapping, in particular, the two biggest motherlodes of energy, efficiency and the Sun.

Eden – Smit, T.
Background to the development and principles of the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. “…. construction is a culture that depends on warfare and fault finding that is not compatible with collaborative partnerships …”

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FutuREstorative: Working Towards a New Sustainability Brown, M.
Focuses on the emergence of a net positive and restorative sustainability, as a more rounded social, wellness, health and healthy buildings debate “We can and must reignite sustainability, set the sustainability soul on fire, make sustainability fun and exciting, and inspire a new generation – not only for a vision of sustainability that is regenerative but a vision that also acknowledges the damage of the past and makes amends, healing the future

 FutuREstorative : is available via RIBA Bookshops and other online book services!
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Inventing the Eco-Industrial Age … with ‘Bio’ the new Data.

unnamedThat ‘Bio’ is set to be the new data, and a further development for BIM (Building Information Management) to align with biomimicry and the circular economy was reinforced in a Wired interview with Janice Beynus inspirational insights into the near future manufacturing at Interface.

What excites you about where technology is taking humankind?

I’m excited by the fact that we are probably the first generation to actually be able to gather biological intelligence and distribute it to the people because of the Internet. Our understanding of how nature works is just increasing exponentially. Now we have a way to gather it and to actually make it available to people.

Our experiment is AskNature.org to try to get that biological intelligence out. That’s exciting to me—understanding how nature works, and then possibly being able to emulate it.

You’ve said that “heat, beat, and treat”—heating up materials, beating them with high pressure, and treating them with chemicals—is the de facto slogan for our current industrial age. What should be the slogan for the next era in manufacturing?

I think manufacturing will be local, safe, and cyclical. (… but at the moment) We’re talking about an industrial process, where you wear hard hats and eye guards. We’re a long way to go before it’s local raw material, safely produced, (with non toxic products) and then recycled at the end of its life—put back into the printer, if you will, as the raw materials for the next product.

We’ve got a long way to go.

RegenerativeBIM … moving the GreenBIM debate

green bimBuilding Information Management offers huge benefits to Sustainability and to GreenBuild, but needs to move from GreenBIM to RestorativeBIM

Bringing together the two most important themes of todays built environment, Sustainability and BIM, the ThinkBIM and Green Vision programmes at Leeds Beckett are setting the agenda for GreenBIM.

However we need to guard against GreenBIM falling into a trap of being Sustainability and BIM as usual, but to move GreenBIM into the visionary, Regenerative Sustainability arena, as adopted by Green Vision through their association with the Living Building Challenge.

Rethinking BIM for the Ecological Age

It does seems a waste that all the creative and innovative thinking and energy being put into BIM should only incrementally improve built environment sustainability, and that we will be a little less bad next year, a bit more less bad by 2018

Aligning the innovation of BIM and the forward thinking of Regenerative Sustainability provides an immense opportunity that could and should powerfully push the overall built environment agenda forward. And, through the intelligence of a RegenerativeBIM, ensure that each element, not just the building, contributes in a net-positive manner, doing more good, not just doing incrementally less bad.

Where GreenBIM is today and where Green BIM needs to be, RegenerativeBIM.
Where GreenBIM is today and where Green BIM needs to be, RegenerativeBIM.

Imagine then if every building, indeed every ‘facility’ was designed, constructed and operated through a RegenerativeBIM, that;

> is designed and constructed specifically in relation to its ‘place’, positively impacting and benefiting its immediate environment.

> becomes a provider of water, cleaning all that falls on the building and providing clean water to adjacent facilities.

> generates more energy than required and contributes the net positive difference to nearby homes, community buildings.

> contains no harmful materials. There should be no place in a GreenBIM for materials on Red Lists. An intelligent RestorativeBIM could not allow materials or products such as PVC, formaldehyde, or SPF’s. Every Product Data Sheet would include the elements of the Living Product Challenge, with every product having a net-positive Handprint

>  are based on biophilic and biomimic principles. RegenerativeBIM would constantly ask the question, How would nature approach this?

> focus on a positive, salutogenetic health principle – on making people healthy, not as present on the negative stopping people getting less ill. (Big difference!)

> cleans the air, emitting better quality than intaking.

> delights and encourages creativity …

> intelligently and digitally inspires and educate the next …. BIM.

Such an approach is not only possible but arguably the responsible approach we must take. An approach that in a short time could be the accepted way of designing, constructing and maintaining buildings.

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These ideas will be explored further in upcoming ‘GreenBIM’ events hosted through Green Vision, ThinkBIM and CE Yorkshire.

Watch this space.

Ecological Handprints: Construction materials that do more good not just less harm

Living Product Challenge. Click to access document on LivingFutures.org
Living Product Challenge. Click to access document on LivingFutures.org

One of the more interesting and potentially industry game changing announcements coming out from the ILFI 2015 conference in Seattle last week was the launch of The Living Product Challenge (LPC).

Initially introduced at the LF 2014 conference with more detail released this year along with more on the concept of the “Ecological Handprint” (not a new concept, but one that is set to gain more parlance now adopted by the ILFI)

The LPC challenges manufacturing organisations to make products with a positive “handprint” i.e. encouraging products that are net-positive and transparent throughout the entire life cycle. (Ecological Handprints will measure the positive impact that a product causes across its life cycle, such as harvesting more water and generating more energy than was required to make the product)

There could be reservations with a requirement for LPC accredited organisations to hold  other ILFI standards such as Just and Declare, seeming a little incestuous perhaps. However sticking to the LBC approach of philosophy first, advocacy second and accreditation third, lets focus on the philosophy and advocacy to improve the sector, and address certification issues later. Living Product Challenge is looking to operate in an increasingly crowded healthy material transparency and green directory arena, yet the absolute-ness of the criteria, (you do or you don’t) will undoubtedly differentiate.

Buildings that consists solely of products and technologies that themselves do more good than harm, across environmental, social and economic spectrums, in manufacture, construction and in use is a very powerful statement for a regenerative future.

And its an approach of course that responsible organisations within the built environment should be adopting. And here are a whole new set of questions to ask; before designers specify materials; when contractors procure products and as facilities management upgrade/replace products.

The philsophy:

Re-imagine the design and construction of products to function as elegantly and efficiently as anything found in the natural world.

Products are informed by biomimicry and biophilia; manufactured by processes powered only by renewable energy and within the water balance of the places they are made.

Products improve our quality of life and bring joy through their beauty and functionality.

Imagine a Living Product whose very existence builds soil; creates habitat; nourishes the human spirit; and provides inspiration for personal, political and economic change.

Like the Living Building Challenge (LBC), the LPC consists of 20 specific “Imperatives” under seven “Petal” categories. All 20 requirements are needed for full LPC certification, or Imperative and Petal certification options . Many of the imperatives will be familiar to those already au fait with the Living Building Challenge, with a few new additions and definations, for example:

Positive Handprint: The manufacturer must demonstrate that the product gives more than it takes over its entire life cycle,

Net-Positive Waste: Water use and release from manufacturing the product must work in harmony with the natural water flows of the site and its surroundings.

Net Positive Material Health: The product must be safe for human exposure during manufacturing, use and end-of-use.

Human Thriving: The product must contribute to an active, healthy lifestyle and be designed to nurture the innate human/nature connection.

Product Fit to Use: Durability, warranty, and useful lifespan must have a direct relationship to environmental impact and embodied energy.

Equitable Product Access: Products sold to consumers must be affordable to the people who manufacture them, and products used in buildings must not unduly impair the affordability of those buildings.

The Living Product Challenge ‘brochure’ pdf can be downloaded from here. The UK LBC Collaborative will be getting to grips with the LPC over the coming weeks, with a view to providing more information and introduction sessions later in the year.

Sources #LF15 Tweets,  https://living-future.org

Biomimicry: the tool to facilitate our transition to the ecological age

unnamedHaving just finished reading Michael Palwyn’s Biomimicry in Architecture as background reading  for upcoming book, Healing the Future, I am looking forward to the Green Vision session on Biomimicry and Biophilia with Richard James MacCowan (Director and Co-Founder,Biomimicry UK ), Yaniv Peer (Associate – Exploration) along with others TBC.  (This GreenVision event is key for anyone in the built environment with an interest in sustainability and looking to improve knowledge and awareness of biomimicry and biophilic developments, Registration and more detail here)

Richard James MacCowan, Re-thinking Nature The world that we live in faces enormous challenges such as climate change, food security, biosphere integrity and freshwater use. Nature can play a strong role to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Solutions are at our fingertips, they are cost effective and we know how to implement them. Richard’s talk will focus on developments, research, case studies and future opportunities that this vital strand of sustainability can offer our industry.

Yaniv Peer (Associate – Exploration): Radical Nature  At a time when architecture and society urgently need to reconsider their relationship to the natural world there are few more exciting and innovative ways to find solutions to our current and future challenges than the discipline known as Biomimicry. This field uses nature as a mentor, learning from its ingenious adaptations that have undergone 3.8 billion years of research and development to produce exceptionally well evolved solutions. This talk will explore three projects of the London based Exploration Architecture Ltd and how it is that they use biomimicry in their work to offer new solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face today. 

And it’s not just material innovation that can benefit here. We can learn from nature for construction process and improvement. Indeed nature works with small and continuous feedback loops, always learning, adopting and evolving to its changing environment. Through learning and applying such feedback loops to design, to construction and to management of facilities we will be able to achieve far better sustainable processes, buildings and facilities.

I was struck by a review comment from Peter Head @PeterHeadCBE (Chair, Global Consulting Planning at Arup) on the cover of Michael Palwyn’s book:

“Between now and 2050 I think Biomimicry is going to be one of the main tools that will facilitate the transition from the industrial age to the ecological age” 

Agree!

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Biomimetics and Biophilia – the new sustainable construction?

There is a new language and lexicon emerging within the world of built environment sustainability, from circular economy to biophilia,  indicating a maturing of construction’s approach, moving from better waste management to circular economy thinking, from biodiversity management to biophilia.

I participated in a brilliant tweetchat yesterday evening, under the hashtag of #CityofLife, hosted by Melissa Sterry (http://melissasterry.com) and others with some very knowledgeable contributors from Northern Europe and elsewhere, exploring the concepts of Biomimetics in buildings and cities. There will be a transcript soon and more debates, so watch this #CityofLife space.

It did strike me though, whilst being comfortable with these new terms in sustainability, many readers and subscribers to this blog may not be, so here is a quick primer.

Biomimetics –  learning from nature as models for building design and construction. See Building a Bionic City (Intriguingly George Mokhtar (@GeorgeMokhtar) tweeted  yesterday before the chat “biomimetics, basically the reason I started using 3D models” proving, maybe, a foundation link with BIM?)

Biomimcry, imitation of nature for the purpose of solving complex problems. Perhaps the best source of information can be found at Biomimicry38  and the Janine Benyus  Biomimicry TED talk

Biophillia, exploring the intrinsic bond between humans and nature, most commonly from a health and well being perspective of building users and occupants.

lbc biophillia

Biophllic thinking is core philosophy for the Living Building Challenge  and suggests the adoption of Richard Kellert’s Six Biophilic Design Elements, (roughly 70 design attributes,  from egg-shaped buildings a historical connection to place)

Suggested reading:

E.O. Wilson, Biophilia 1984 (There is a very useful primer on Ecology, based around E.O Wilson work, within the iBooks (ipad) series from the Open University, with texts, videos and workbooks)

Last Child in the Woods: Richard Louv

Building for Life: Richard Kellert

Case Study Cities: Melissa Sterry, Sustain Magazine

Suggested people to follow on twitter

@melissasterry @thefuturemakers @StefanoSerafi11

@amandasturgeon  @livingbuilding @livingbldgUK

@JanineBenyus @RichLouv @biomimicry_uk @AskNatureTweets

Other Links:

Bios – Flipboard Magazine 

Biophilia in the Real World

Biophilic Design Solutions and Effect

Sustain – my flipboard magazine 

Inspired by Biomimicry

I participated in a short, sharp but highly inspirational #biomimicry tweetchat last night, hosted by TreeHugger with questions fielded by Janine Benyus

“Every design guideline that we need to plan the future already exists … in the bottomland hardwood forest and the tall grass prairie … Go outside. Quiet your cleverness. Listen to the lessons of the natives.”

Janine Benyus, Co-Founder, Biomimicry 3.8

download

TreeHugger have posted a useful record of the event, but there was so much (more) information, links and references shared during the chat I captured more of the tweetchat on a storify here:

Inspired by Biomimicry #biomimicry2013 Storify – Salient tweets links and comments from the whirlwind tweetchat hosted by Treehugger with Janine Benyus

Enjoy