Opinion Four Books About Sustainable Design By Michael Cockram Healthy Environments, Healing Spaces: Practices and Directions in Health Planning and Design, edited by Timothy Beatley, Carla Jones, and Reuben Rainey. University of Virginia Press, 296 pages, $70. Beginning from the stance that health is more than just the absence of disease, the book’s dozen essays illustrate how we can design environments in which people thrive in mind and body. The editors address a range of issues such as the benefits of exposure to nature, access to various modes of transportation, and planning cities for healthy food systems. They discuss “evidence-based design” founded on, for example, research in the Netherlands showing that “disease clusters” are more prevalent in neighborhoods lacking access to green space. The book is a valuable primer for designers and planners concerned with shaping environments that foster well-being.Passive House Details: Solutions for High-Performance Design, by Donald B. Corner, Jan C. Fillinger, and Allison G. Kwok. Routledge, 332 pages, $49.95. For Passive House, the high-performance building-certification system developed in Germany, achievement is in the details. The standard’s stringent energy-use requirements necessitate a superinsulated, extremely snug envelope. As Passive House gathers momentum in the U.S., this timely guide should help building professionals in improving efficiency. More than a collection of strategies, the tightly organized book lays out the principles of Passive House and illustrates how to attain the energy targets with clearly detailed graphics and an array of case studies from different climates, site conditions, and architectural styles. The New Carbon Architecture: Building to Cool the Climate, by Bruce King and others. New Society, 176 pages, $29.99. Climate change has sparked exploration of how future technologies could extract and store carbon from the atmosphere, but the authors of this collection take the position that a solution already exists in plants, which absorb and retain carbon for the life of the plant-based material. For example, they discuss the potential of mass timber and components made of straw and other agricultural by-products to lock up the embodied carbon—the carbon emitted during the life cycle of a building from material manufacture through demolition. Although the book would have benefited from more in-depth case studies, it succeeds in refocusing the debate beyond energy efficiency to sequestered carbon, a topic that will become more critical as the earth warms. Nature by Design: The Practice of Biophilic Design, by Stephen R. Kellert. Yale University Press, 224 pages, $35. The late Stephen Kellert, a professor of social ecology at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, took a thoughtful look at architecture through the lens of biophilia—our affinity for nature and the processes of life. His premise, that biophilic design is essential to creating desirable human habitats, is supported by research showing that people are healthier and more productive when built environments have a direct connection to nature—or even an indirect one, through use of natural materials, art, and organic forms. Compelling photos and line drawings of historic and contemporary examples reinforce the argument and appeal to various audiences. November 8, 2018 A selection of books discusses ways in which architects can design in response to nature. KEYWORDS: Book Reviews / Excerpts Share This Story Michael Cockram is a freelance writer and director of Bowerbird Design in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Post a comment to this article Name* E-mail (will not be displayed)* Subject Comment* Report Abusive Comment Thank you for helping us to improve our forums. Is this comment offensive? Please tell us why.