Tag Archives: Victor Olgyay

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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BioClimatic Design: Book Review

Sustainability and eco design are now common place in todays built environment, yet how appropriate is our level of understanding and relationship with natural and bioclimatic conditions necessary to address climate change?

9780691169736-us-300Design for Climate, Bioclimatic Approach to Architecture Regionalism by Victor Olgyay originally published in 1962/3 has been recently updated with new essays and insights on climate change and design.

Today, even though we may have far greater understanding of climatology and potential solutions, we still strive to understand how built environment design will influence the drive to cap global warming to 1.5 deg c. The core teachings and messages in Design for Climate remain just as relevant, and indeed perhaps far more so.

The original book is populated with wonderful pen-drawn climatic and bioclimatic charts and illustrations that pull the reader in to discover more. Sadly, much of the data, charts and methodologies included within the book would now be included within BIM environmental modules, even on smart phones, based on algorithms, and possibly applied without in-depth knowledge of for example sun path diagrams and insolation affects.

I say sadly, as we have perhaps lost that connection and innate understanding of the natural climatic conditions pertaining to the individual places in which we build.

Considering that the original edition would have been conceived, researched and produced without the use of computers and the internet, the meteorology, climatology and biological data incorporated into Design for Climate are outstanding.

There are a number of areas in the book, both within the original text and in the new prefaces that resonate with where I am in my sustainability research, practice and thinking for FutuREstorative.

For example there is a resonance with the Living Building Challenge philosophy, and of the flower metaphor for buildings rooted in place, harvesting all energy and water whilst being adapted to climate and site. Words which would not have been out of place within Olgyays text and charts.

Within the new preface, Victor W Olgyay describes how the very local bioclimatic conditions at Limone, Lake Garda, have given rise to very specific architecture, something that Living Building Challenge students on the annual Regeneration design competition, held nearby in Dro, take into account as they prepare designs for local municipal buildings along Living Building Challenge principles.

1962 also saw the publication of Silent Spring, in an era of environmental awakening, of pollution awareness and of the impact or relationship of buildings with the climate, which ushered in the modern environmental protest movement.

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Earth Day Catalogue

Through the text and the images, even the paper quality, I was reminded of another near-contemporary text, towards the end of that decade, the Earth Day Catalogue and its mantra of that time, still relevant today, to Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.

Further there is a striking continuity which caught my eye, Victor Olygay passed away on the first earth day in 1970. Part of the organisation team on that day was Denis Hayes, who, 40 years later would apply the essence of Design with Climate, translated through the Place and the other Living Building Challenge imperatives on the built environments green flagship at the Bullitt Centre.

Design for Climate includes a number of concepts that now seem way ahead of its time (or rather concepts not fully understood or adopted by practice) re-emphasised in the new Scannable Documentessays. For example, the concept of interlocking fields for climate balance – suggesting that architecture design should be in balance with biology, technology and climatology. Something which is very close to the current thinking of integrating digital technologies (BIM) with bio-data, nature and climatology within todays restorative sustainable design and build.

Core to Design for Climate text is the concept of comfort, again a concept central to todays sustainable building design, for example within passive house thinking. Olgyay quotes a Dr Cannon “the development of a nearly thermostable state in our buildings should be regarded as one of the most valuable advances in the evolution of buildings” An outcome we have lost sight of perhaps in our search for ever more energy efficient buildings under the label of sustainability, but now being addressed through a balancing wellbeing and healthy building agenda

I was somewhat surprised to note that demand for Design for Climate has outstripped supply, most likely as being an AIA recommended text for architect studies. Indeed if that is the case then why are we not seeing more buildings fully bioclimatic focused? Maybe this new and updated version will correct that, bringing understanding of bioclimatic design principles to a new generation.

In one of the new essays, (The Roots of BioClimatic Design) John Reynolds comments “while the teachings of these are still rippling out there are many corners of our built environment that cry for their application”


 

I am grateful toMolly Miller via Princeton Press. to forwarding a copy of Design For Climate for review here and within FutuREstorative