17 Top Book Gift Ideas for LEED Pros

Sarah Ward's picture
Sarah Ward
December 1, 2014

From fracking to the slow food movement to international sustainable architecture, we’ve got your readers' needs covered.

Looking to curl up with a good book this winter? Check out these eco-classics!
Looking to curl up with a good book this winter? Check out these eco-classics!
Credit: Hendrik Terbeck via Flickr
What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?
What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?
Credit: Tony Juniper
The Boom
The Boom
Credit: Russell Gold
Smart Cities
Smart Cities
Credit: Anthony M. Townsend
The Sixth Extinction
The Sixth Extinction
Credit: Elizabeth Kolbert
Blessing the Hands That Feed Us
Blessing the Hands That Feed Us
Credit: Vicki Robin
The New Net Zero
The New Net Zero
Credit: Bill Maclay
Lake/Flato Houses
Lake/Flato Houses
Credit: Frederick Steiner
Water 4.0
Water 4.0
Credit: David Sedlak
The Conscience Economy
The Conscience Economy
Credit: Steven Overman

With Winter upon you, you may be looking for low-stress gift ideas for your favorite green builder... The coming long winter nights, and maybe a bit of time off, are the perfect time to learn more about what's happening to the environment.

But rather than spending hours searching on Amazon or your local book shop for good (or rather, great) book ideas, here are 17 titles on green building you may be interested in checking out. You'll find good reads on tiny houses, smart city development, net zero and prefab construction, and the tension that exists between balancing the needs of a growing human population and our natural environment.

1) What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees by Tony Juniper

From Indian vultures to Chinese bees, Nature provides the 'natural services' that keep the economy going. An abundance of life creating a genetic codebook that underpins our food, pharmaceutical industries and much more, it has been estimated that these and other services are each year worth about double global GDP.

Yet we take most of Nature's services for granted, imagining them free and limitless ... until they suddenly switch off...

2) The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World by Russell Gold

Russell Gold, a brilliant and dogged investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal, has spent more than a decade reporting on one of the biggest stories of our time: the spectacular, world-changing rise of “fracking.”

The result is an essential book—a commanding piece of journalism, an astounding study of human ingenuity, and an epic work of storytelling.

3) Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony Townsend

A century ago, the telegraph and the mechanical tabulator were used to tame cities of millions. Today, cellular networks and cloud computing tie together the complex choreography of mega-regions of tens of millions of people.

As technology barons, entrepreneurs, mayors, and an emerging vanguard of civic hackers are trying to shape this new frontier, Smart Cities considers the motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings of them all while offering a new civics to guide our efforts as we build the future together, one click at a time.

4) The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted.

Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

This time around, the cataclysm is us.

5) Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: What Eating Closer to Home Can Teach Us About Food, Community, and Our Place on Earth by Vicki Robin

Taking the locavore movement to heart, bestselling author and social innovator Vicki Robin pledged for one month to eat only food sourced within a 10-mile radius of her home on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Washington.

Her sustainable diet not only brings to light society’s unhealthy dependency on mass-produced, prepackaged foods but also helps her reconnect with her body and her environment.

6) The New Net Zero: Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future by Bill Maclay

Designers and builders will find a wealth of state-of-the-art information on such considerations as air, water, and vapor barriers; embodied energy; residential and commercial net-zero standards; monitoring and commissioning; insulation options; costs; and more.

The comprehensive overview is accompanied by several case studies, which include institutional buildings, commercial projects, and residences. Both new-building and renovation projects are covered in detail.

7) Lake/Flato Houses: Embracing the Landscape by Lake/Flato Architects

Lake|Flato won the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2013, and it has also received the American Institute of Architects’ highest honor, the National Firm Award.

In all, Lake|Flato has won more than 150 national and state design awards. Residential architecture has always been a priority for the firm, and Lake|Flato Houses showcases an extensive selection of landmark homes built since 1999.

Color photographs and architectural commentary create a memorable portrait of houses from Texas to Montana.

8) Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource by David Sedlak

To make informed decisions about the future, we need to understand the three revolutions in urban water systems that have occurred over the past 2,500 years and the technologies that will remake the system.

David Sedlak offers an insider’s look at current systems that rely on reservoirs, underground pipe networks, treatment plants, and storm sewers to provide water that is safe to drink, before addressing how these water systems will have to be reinvented.

9) The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good Is Great for Business by Steven Overman

The implications of the Conscience Economy are not “soft.” Ignore it, and your consumer or voter base will rebel, using a host of free tools and cheap connectivity to spread their rejection to peers around the world in real time. Leverage it, and Conscience Culture is a wellspring of financial upside.

The Conscience Economy is the must-read guide to this unprecedented shift in human motivation and behavior.

10) Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages by Andrew Heben

Tent City Urbanism explores the intersection of the "tiny house movement" and tent cities organized by the homeless to present an accessible and sustainable housing paradigm that can improve the quality of life for everyone.

Along with documenting and articulating the roots of this budding movement, the book provides a practical guide to help catalyze new and existing initiatives in other areas.

11) American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood by Paul Greenberg

In American Catch, award-winning author Paul Greenberg takes the same skills that won him acclaim in Four Fish to uncover the tragic unraveling of the nation’s seafood supply—telling the surprising story of why Americans stopped eating from their own waters.

12) Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet by Ryan Mitchell

Tiny House Living is about distilling life down to that which you value most...freeing yourself from clutter, mortgages and home maintenance...and, in doing so, making more room in everyday life for the really important things, like relationships, passions and community. Whether you downsize to a 400-square-foot home or simply scale back the amount of stuff you have in your current home, this book shows you how to live well with less.

13) The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future by Michael Levi

The United States is in the throes of two unfolding energy revolutions, and partisans--convinced that only their side holds the key to American prosperity, security, and safety--are battling over which one should prevail. In The Power Surge, Michael Levi takes readers inside these revolutions.

14) The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber

At the heart of today’s optimistic farm-to-table food culture is a dark secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has also offered a false promise for the future of food.

Our concern over factory farms and chemically grown crops might have sparked a social movement, but chef Dan Barber reveals that even the most enlightened eating of today is ultimately detrimental to the environment and to individual health. And it doesn’t involve truly delicious food. Based on ten years of surveying farming communities around the world, Barber’s The Third Plate offers a radical new way of thinking about food that will heal the land and taste good, too.

A vivid and profound work that takes readers into the kitchens and fields revolutionizing the way we eat, The Third Plate redefines nutrition, agriculture, and taste for the twenty-first century. The Third Plate charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike, daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as sustainable as it is delicious.

15) This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

16) Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck

Jeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive. And he has boiled it down to one key factor: walkability. Making downtown into a walkable, viable community is the essential fix for the typical American city; it is eminently achievable and its benefits are manifold. Walkable City, bursting with sharp observations and key insights into how urban change happens, lays out a practical, necessary, and inspiring vision for how to make American cities great again.

17) Prefabulous World: Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Homes Around the Globe by Sherri Koones, forward by Robert Redford

The rising cost of fuel and the growing commit­ment to protect the environment have sparked exciting innovations in prefab home construction. Showcasing the unlimited possibilities offered by prefabrication to build incredibly energy-efficient, green homes, Prefabulous World features sophisticated examples of eco-friendly home design in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, the United States, England, Germany, South Africa, and beyond.


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