The most recommended books on sustainable design

Who picked these books? Meet our 6 experts.

6 authors created a book list connected to sustainable design, and here are their favorite sustainable design books.
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Book cover of God Of Tarot

Travis I. Sivart Author Of Silver & Smith and the Jazeer's Light

From my list on sci-fi that explode the concept of reality.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always believed a story should be world changing and epic on some level. Perhaps on a personal level, perhaps in the actual sense of world changing. Whether it’s for my readers of a short story, the players in a tabletop role playing game I’m running, or the arc of a novel. Some of these books help form that idea, and others supported it later in my life. I love it when a tale shakes my world—in addition to the world of the characters—and makes me question what I believe. With a doctorate in metaphysics and a love of fantasy and sci-fi, I’m always looking for ways to shake up my worldview!

Travis' book list on sci-fi that explode the concept of reality

Travis I. Sivart Why did Travis love this book?

Another series, and this is because the series covers a single story. The 1980s didn’t like huge books very much, so a story was often split into the much more economical (space-wise and financially) trilogy. This story shows a future that regressed into old, sustainable technology because we learned how to get to the stars and had to conserve our resources. It also follows one man who is sent to a planet to find out which religions god has appeared on that world. It’s an incredible blend of science, society, and character that has become a book I’ve recommended my entire life.

By Piers Anthony,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God Of Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Strong spine with light creasing. Bright clean cover has slight edge wear. Text is perfect. Same day shipping first class from AZ.


Book cover of 101 Rules of Thumb for Sustainable Buildings and Cities

Sian Moxon Author Of Sustainability in Interior Design

From my list on sustainable design (from an architect).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an architect, academic, and author, who is passionate about sustainable design. At London Metropolitan University I conduct design research on urban rewilding, and teach sustainable design to architecture and interior design students. I founded the Rewild My Street campaign, which aims to inspire and empower city residents to reverse biodiversity decline by transforming their homes, gardens, and streets for wildlife. My work combines my expertise in sustainable design; architectural-practice experience in housing, building conservation, and urban regeneration; and passion for wildlife. I am driven by designing and helping others design sustainable, biodiverse buildings, and cities.

Sian's book list on sustainable design (from an architect)

Sian Moxon Why did Sian love this book?

The book is beautifully presented as a series of annotated diagrams, one for each rule of thumb. This is a very powerful communication tool for explaining principles of sustainable design that designers can understand and then apply to their own projects. The concepts span design considerations from the scale of the room to the city to the globe - benefiting interior designers, architects, landscape architects, and urban designers alike. I would urge all designers to create a sustainability diagram of every project during the design process.

By Huw Heywood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 101 Rules of Thumb for Sustainable Buildings and Cities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the success of its enormously popular predecessor (101 Rules of Thumb for Low Energy Architecture) the next title in this pithy series nowfocuses our attention on the bigger picture in sustainability: the overarching design of our buildings and cities.

With ever-increasing pressure on the planet's ecosystems, resulting from population growth, urbanisation and climate change, people across the world are becoming more aware of the need for the cities they live and work in to be sustainable. Yet the issue of how to be sustainable - and what sustainability actually means - can seem a confusing and complex one.

Fortunately,…


Book cover of The Environmental Design Pocketbook

Sian Moxon Author Of Sustainability in Interior Design

From my list on sustainable design (from an architect).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an architect, academic, and author, who is passionate about sustainable design. At London Metropolitan University I conduct design research on urban rewilding, and teach sustainable design to architecture and interior design students. I founded the Rewild My Street campaign, which aims to inspire and empower city residents to reverse biodiversity decline by transforming their homes, gardens, and streets for wildlife. My work combines my expertise in sustainable design; architectural-practice experience in housing, building conservation, and urban regeneration; and passion for wildlife. I am driven by designing and helping others design sustainable, biodiverse buildings, and cities.

Sian's book list on sustainable design (from an architect)

Sian Moxon Why did Sian love this book?

The book is a sustainable design bible, packed with technical information on environmental building features, illustrated with attractive sketches and detailed drawings. I read it cover to cover when I first started teaching sustainable design, but it can equally be dipped into for quick reference. It is particularly good on addressing climate change through domestic buildings and existing building retrofit, as well as giving appropriate weight to ecological issues, such as flood risk and biodiversity.

By Sofie Pelsmakers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Environmental Design Pocketbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Environmental Design Pocketbook 2nd ed places the information you need for sustainable, low energy building design at your fingertips.

Packed with diagrams, tools and tips, it cuts through the complex mass of technical data and legislation that faces the designer, and distils all the key guidance into a single reference that is quick, easy to use and points to the facts, figures and performance data that are most important.

This 2nd edition is now fully up-to-date with the latest Building Regulations Part L and F legislation (England and Wales), RIBA Plan of Work 2013, new information on the Green…


Book cover of Design A Healthy Home: 100 Ways to transform your space for physical and mental wellbeing

Michelle Ogundehin Author Of Happy Inside: How to harness the power of home for health and happiness

From my list on homes for health, happiness, and healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was old enough to move my bedroom furniture around I was profoundly aware that my environment was as important to my wellbeing as food, sleep and exercise. It was the invisible hand that shaped my behaviour. I went on to study architecture and my first proper job was as Editor in Chief of ELLE Decoration magazine. As such I’ve seen inside thousands of homes and my passion is based on proof. I know this stuff makes a difference because I’ve healed myself through my home. And today, what I knew intuitively is now backed by science. Better homes mean better health. 

Michelle's book list on homes for health, happiness, and healing

Michelle Ogundehin Why did Michelle love this book?

This is more of a nuts and bolts book. Its subtitle is 100 ways to transform your space for physical and mental well-being. So, taking Oliver’s background in biophilic design—the art of integrating the forms and feel of nature into designed spaces—as his starting point, he guides you through a series of practical suggestions to help you better align your home with your well-being.

By Oliver Heath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Design A Healthy Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With indoor air pollution at its worst, and many of us spending more time in our own homes, this interior design guide will help you create calm, social, and comfortable spaces.

Let leading sustainability architect, Oliver Heath, give you all the practical solutions you need to transform your space for physical and mental wellbeing.

Inside the pages of this home decor book, you'll discover how to detoxify your home by making small changes. It includes:

- 100 tried and tested, research-based design ideas to support your health and wellbeing in even the smallest of spaces
- Stylish, fun, and affordable…


Book cover of Design for Biodiversity: A Technical Guide for New and Existing Buildings

Sian Moxon Author Of Sustainability in Interior Design

From my list on sustainable design (from an architect).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an architect, academic, and author, who is passionate about sustainable design. At London Metropolitan University I conduct design research on urban rewilding, and teach sustainable design to architecture and interior design students. I founded the Rewild My Street campaign, which aims to inspire and empower city residents to reverse biodiversity decline by transforming their homes, gardens, and streets for wildlife. My work combines my expertise in sustainable design; architectural-practice experience in housing, building conservation, and urban regeneration; and passion for wildlife. I am driven by designing and helping others design sustainable, biodiverse buildings, and cities.

Sian's book list on sustainable design (from an architect)

Sian Moxon Why did Sian love this book?

Many books now address designing low-energy buildings to mitigate climate change, but few focus on designing buildings to benefit wildlife. Given the global biodiversity crisis and modern buildings’ lack of accidental gaps to shelter birds, bats, and insects, more guidance on safely incorporating wildlife habitat within buildings and outdoor spaces is crucial. This was one of the inspirations behind my urban-rewilding campaign, Rewild My Street.

By Carol Williams, Kelly Gunnell, Brian Murphy

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Design for Biodiversity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The creation of highly insulated and sealed buildings, necessitated by the shift towards designing and building low-carbon buildings, has had a negative effect on biodiversity. The potential niches for biodiversity such as spaces in open roof voids, generous overhangs and cracks and crevices that can be home for a wide range of birds, bats, insects and plants, are now being designed out through the desire to develop airtight buildings.

The first edition of this book showed how you can make provision for building-reliant species when designing new low or zero carbon buildings. This second edition remains true to that need…


Book cover of The Man Who Planted Trees

Carol Drinkwater Author Of The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Olive Oil in the South of France

From my list on fiction and non-fiction about the South of France.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thirty-five years ago, I bought a dilapidated olive farm overlooking the Bay of Cannes. I was well-known as an actress for such roles as Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. Moving to Provence, living on the Mediterranean, transformed my life. I became passionate about the landscape, history, art, languages, literature of the region. I spent 17 months travelling solo round the Mediterranean basin, searching out the history and cultures of the olive tree, a mythical plant. I was invited to work with UNESCO to create a Mediterranean Olive Route. I make films, TV programmes, and write books. Almost all my work is set in the south of France.

Carol's book list on fiction and non-fiction about the South of France

Carol Drinkwater Why did Carol love this book?

The American novelist Henry Miller who loved France described Giono as "one of if not the greatest writer of the twentieth century." This novel is set in deep Provence and tells the tale of a lone shepherd who dedicates his life to reforesting a desolate valley area at the foothills of the Alps. Over forty years he plants his saplings, right up until his death, by which time the valley has been transformed into a paradise for men, creatures, and plants. The writing is sublime, poetic, and inspirational. This story is as relevant today as it was when written seventy years ago.  A must-read.

By Jean Giono, Michael McCurdy (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Man Who Planted Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty years ago Chelsea Green published the first trade edition of The Man Who Planted Trees, a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzeard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape-from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.

Since our first publication, the book has sold over a…


Book cover of Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Strategies Towards Net Zero Architecture

Lori Dennis and Courtney Porter Author Of Green Interior Design

From my list on the future of design and sustainable living.

Why are we passionate about this?

After specializing in minimalism and zero/low-waste in luxury residential design, Lori Dennis Inc. was tapped to author two books on Green Interior Design. The mission is to make sustainable design and living fun and accessible. Both Lori Dennis and Courtney Porter discovered their passions for design at an early age, spawned from resourcefulness and creative resstaint. Having lived in NYC and LA, Lori and Courtney have a love of cities, community, and the great outdoors.

Lori's book list on the future of design and sustainable living

Lori Dennis and Courtney Porter Why did Lori love this book?

When we think about the fundamental purpose of interior space, creating shelter is about heating, cooling, and lighting. This recommendation is more for the professional designer than the DIY’er, but it is the handbook for a reason. It breaks down all of the fundamentals and their importance and emphasizes net-zero design strategies for sustainable building. 

By Norbert M. Lechner, Patricia Andrasik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heating, Cooling, Lighting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The essential guide to environmental control systems in building design

For over 25 years Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Strategies Towards Net Zero Architecture has provided architects and design professionals the knowledge and tools required to design a sustainable built environment at the schematic design stage. This Fifth Edition offers cutting-edge research in the field of sustainable architecture and design and has been completely restructured based on net zero design strategies. Reflecting the latest developments in codes, standards, and rating systems for energy efficiency, Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Strategies Towards Net Zero Architecture includes three new chapters:

Retrofits: Best…


Book cover of Rewild Yourself: Making Nature More Visible in Our Lives

Sian Moxon Author Of Sustainability in Interior Design

From my list on sustainable design (from an architect).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an architect, academic, and author, who is passionate about sustainable design. At London Metropolitan University I conduct design research on urban rewilding, and teach sustainable design to architecture and interior design students. I founded the Rewild My Street campaign, which aims to inspire and empower city residents to reverse biodiversity decline by transforming their homes, gardens, and streets for wildlife. My work combines my expertise in sustainable design; architectural-practice experience in housing, building conservation, and urban regeneration; and passion for wildlife. I am driven by designing and helping others design sustainable, biodiverse buildings, and cities.

Sian's book list on sustainable design (from an architect)

Sian Moxon Why did Sian love this book?

As designers, we should arguably take responsibility for the ecological footprint of our own lifestyles before we attempt to impose sustainable lifestyles on those who use the spaces we create. This book guides you through simple yet profound ways to reconnect with the natural world. Being in touch with nature yourself will help you design spaces that prioritise the natural world and connect people to it, even in the city. I have always loved Barnes’s nature of writing for its fundamental insights and poetic style. This has inspired my own ‘rewilding’ process, culminating in the creation of the Rewild My Street resource, which offers a design toolkit. 

By Simon Barnes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rewild Yourself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For those readers who want to get closer to the nature all around them and bring it back into focus within their lives, this book is the ideal companion.

We're not just losing the wild world. We're forgetting it. We're no longer noticing it. We've lost the habit of looking and seeing and listening and hearing.

But we can make hidden things visible, and this book features numerous spellbinding ways to bring the magic of nature much closer to home.

Mammals you never knew existed will enter your world. Birds hidden in treetops will shed their cloak of anonymity. With…


Book cover of Happy Inside: How to harness the power of home for health and happiness

Joanna Thornhill Author Of My Bedroom Is an Office: & Other Interior Design Dilemmas

From my list on how our interiors can support our wellbeing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a lifelong interiors obsessive, which I’ve managed to turn into a multi-stranded career: I style commercial photoshoots and set up events for brands, write about interiors trends for magazines and a trend forecasting agency, have authored several interiors books of my own, and recently I’ve begun teaching my own blend of authentic yet actionable interior design tips to others, through courses, workshops, and creative consultancy. I am always interested in the why behind what makes us feel a certain way when it comes to design, and believe that creating a home that reflects and supports our emotional needs will ultimately support us in all aspects of life.

Joanna's book list on how our interiors can support our wellbeing

Joanna Thornhill Why did Joanna love this book?

Interiors expert and host of Interior Design Masters (BBC), Michelle has a fascinating view on interiors, honed through her many years working on magazines alongside her personal interests in Buddhist philosophy, sustainable design, and ‘clean’ living within the home. She goes deep into her research within this title, examining potential pathogens that might be lurking in a typical household (and advising on what to do to mitigate them), alongside thoughtful prose on how you can identify both your aesthetic and wellbeing needs and decorate accordingly.

By Michelle Ogundehin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Happy Inside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I love this book. Strong, clever, intelligent advice with soul.'
Mary Portas

'A wonderful look at how to transform our homes to be more mindfully aligned with our true nature and a reflection of who we are.'
Fearne Cotton

'A happy home is a fundamental building block of happiness, and Michelle's book is an essential, step-by-step guide to creating a home we love.'
Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

'A must-have read for anyone looking to improve not just their home but also their quality of life within it.'
Matthew Williamson

Be happier, healthier and more empowered with Michelle…