Recent books take on net-zero energy,‘transformational thought’

We’re not in the habit of recommending books in these pages, but we could not ignore two recent noteworthy publications. (Both are available on

Net Zero Energy Design: A Guide for Commercial Architecture is an in-depth, 441-page exploration into the practical problems of designing and building net-zero buildings. The author, architect Tom Hootman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is Director of Sustainability at RNL, the Denver-based design firm.

He was a key contributor to the Building Team that designed the Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy lab in Golden, Colo. It was the first net-zero building in the U.S. to demonstrate both environmental and economic feasibility.

If your firm is contemplating taking on a net-zero energy project, you would be remiss if you ignored this book, the first essential manual in the field.

See my interview with Hootman on how NZE buildings are creating a new role for architects, at /new-leadership-role-architects-net-zero-design.

Transformational Thought: Radical Ideas to Remake the Built Environment is a series of 14 essays by Jason F. McLennan, LEED Fellow, founder of the Living Building Challenge and a primal force in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Cascadia Green Building Council. He was named to Building Design+Construction’s “40 under 40” list in 2010 as a 32-year-old principal at BNIM.

McLellan roams far and wide in his essays, from the role of women in a “restorative future,” to the urban agriculture revolution, to a discussion challenging the wisdom of height and density in urban structures.

It is not always easy to agree with McLellan, and his provocative argumentation will keep you awake at night, thinking. +


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