Building Green, New Edition: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods
Earth Plaster * Straw Bale * Cordwood * Cob * Living Roofs 

building_green book


— 600+ pages
— approx. 1500 color photos
— 80 color illustrations
Revised Introduction
Revised Chapter Introductions

The best-selling and highly regarded reference to sustainable construction gets an update! It’s refreshed with a completely revised introduction, a bright new cover, and extensive online resource tie-ins.




To us, green building is less about materials and more about a shift in perspective. It means creating a building that fits its inhabitants and the building site like a glove to the benefit of both. To do that, the conception, design, and construction of a building needs to be a seamless, cohesive whole. That, in turn, means that the inhabitants (you) need to be deeply involved in the creation of the building. That’s often difficult because, to be blunt, the people from whose imagination the building has sprung (you again) usually know nothing about building.

The best way to learn about building is to build with someone who is willing to teach. That’s hard enough to find in the world of conventional construction. If you’re interested in green building, the small offering of opportunities thins considerably more. If you can’t do it, the next best thing is to watch it being done, so we decided to create a fully functional, exquisitely crafted little house right in front of your eyes in the pages of a book.

We start out with a short primer on building, so you’ll understand the basics. Next, we go over the fundamental problems with the modern building paradigm and offer general alternative strategies to improve on the norm. Then, we roll up our sleeves and take you through the conception, design, and construction of an “eco-cottage” chock full of green building materials and techniques including a gravel trench foundation, insulated light concrete stem walls, living roof, and a post and beam structure with five different wall infills: straw bale, cob, clay-slip straw, and modified stick frame. More importantly these materials are consciously placed as part of a passive solar design that nestles the cottage into its site to meet the needs of specific people. The whole process is documented with almost 1,500 color photos and 80 beautiful illustrations. In addition, we introduce every material and technique with a general discussion and end with options for varying what we’ve done to match your situation.

What can we say? This is simply an incredible book. It’s scope and organization make it useful to a wide variety of people. For the complete novice, it can serve as an eye-opening general introduction to the process of building. On the other hand, it’s also a good resource for seasoned builders who want to expose themselves to some popular alternatives. In addition, it’s invaluable for anyone thinking of building (or paying to build) their own green home. It will also make a great book for an undergraduate design/build course in architecture. Finally, the breadth of photos of buildings around the world and up your green building street make it a beautiful coffee table book.

About the Authors

Clarke Snell is a researcher, designer, and author with a central interest in the intersection of the natural and built environments. He holds a Master of Architecture from the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC) and has a background in low-tech, high performance residential building systems with extensive experience in both construction as a builder and design as principal at a small “hyper green” residential design and consulting firm. He has written two books and numerous articles on alternatives to currently standard construction methodologies and has taught the topic as an adjunct professor.

Hemp designer & builder Tim Callahan serves as Technical Design Analyst and partner at Alembic Studio. With over 30 years of construction experience , Tim continues to push the envelope in the marriage of ultra-efficient systems with healthy, natural building methods.