Too many contractors operate on a "if it ain't broken don't fix it" and "I have been successfully doing things (the old way) for 25 years." It is difficult to get the average contractor to think and act green. Johnston & Gibson lay out and walk through the key ideas . . . in plain English with lots of excellent photographs. Every architect, county planning department, planning inspectors and utility district should have this close at hand. This provides the average person what realtors and homes for sale newspaper features don't know and don't get.
Because there is so much hyperbole, many do not know what to accept, reject, believe or move forward with. How do you speak intelligently with an architect for schools, homes, churches and business and clearly communicate what makes up a functional, sustainable, energy conserving and site appropriate structure?
Planning and Design is a whole system, not a one shot effort. This includes siting, aspect, elevation, lighting, landscaping, plumbing, materials, construction techniques, heating and cooling, interior and exterior finishes, decking, roofs and attics and basements. "Form follows function," taught in design schools, but too often ignored, permeates every thought. Collective wisdom reaches back to the Anasazi in the Southwest. This explains why you insulate under a foundation, how fly ash makes concrete stronger and takes care of an otherwise waste product requiring less Portland cement for walls and floors. Advanced framing techniques or use of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), alternatives to wood steel studs reduce waste and cost and increases thermal efficiency. Tubular sunpipes are shown illuminating interior space (a much superior alternative to leaky skylights).
Whether you are thinking of new construction or a retrofit, this is a key guide. As we enter "Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (Heinberg, 2007)," this is a guide to quality, high expectations and cost effectiveness with emphasis on sustainability and durability. When I look at a building, these are the critical thinking thoughts and questions in my head. This should be close at hand in every home construction and hardware supply store. Superbly written, well laid out, easy to find information.