Customer Reviews: Green from the Ground Up: Sustainable, Healthy, and Energy-Efficient Home Construction (Builder's Guide)
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on June 27, 2008
This book does a good job at setting up a working definition of "green building" as a decision making process that occurs at each point in the design of a building, with an emphasis on residential construction. The book has a lot of pictures and pop-up bubble sidebars that make each page seem more like a design school presentation poster (that's a good thing). It presents a lot of basic information and principles about each part of a building, from foundations, insulation, windows, framing, flashing, natural building, etc. and how they come together as a "green building system."
If you are an architect or drafter who is looking for a book with technical details and explanations about specific construction methods or materials notes do not buy this book. If you would like to learn about green building science principles as to how they relate with each division in a building then buy this book.
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on June 25, 2008
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.
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on May 7, 2008
Excellent book for novice and professionals! I have attended three of the largest green building training programs(nationwide) and this book brings all of that training into a single, easy to understand source. As last years President of the Homebuilders Association of SW Colorado and member of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Association of Homebuilders...I am recommending this book to all of my associates!!
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on June 11, 2008
This is a excellent overview and introduction to a very complex subject. The authors do a great job of explaining "Green" concepts and how they relate to all of the processes and systems in residential construction today. It's not really a "how-to", but that couldn't fit in one book. But it does outline all of the green technologies and choices available. "Green" is kind of a moving target. This book gives you the framework you need to figure out a "Green" approach to any project and all the information you need to get started finding the most appropriate systems and technologies. It's a great starting point, very well written, practical, and not a bit preachy.
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on May 27, 2008
One thing I especially liked about this book is it has a million photos and drawings. Very helpful. Overall, the book is comprehensive, practical and clearly written. I've read a couple other books by David Johnston, all dealing with similar subjects. Before becoming a writer, he spent several decades as a hands-on builder. He thoroughly knows his stuff and it shows. An excellent book.
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on August 2, 2009
I'm working as a green building consultant for a major remodel/upgrade on a 250 yr old house in NH. This book has brought a beautifully wide perspective to a very concrete process. Johnston & Gibson understand green building and more importantly they understand that the most expensive answer is not necessarily the best. They give a balanced discussion on the pros and cons on various techniques and technology. After discussing the merits of tankless water heaters and there are many, they note that a California Build Water Heater can deliver similar energy efficiency results at a fraction of the cost. I appreciate that they understand the Return on the Investment side of the equation.

It is a complete book; all the various facets of HVAC from duct trouble spots, sheet metal ducts vs flex ducts, geothermal pumps, swamp coolers to night flushing are discussed. I would recommend it to both experts and novices.

Taunton Publishing brought their exceptional understanding of how-to books to the text. It is well-designed and laid out for both readability and comprehension. The illustrations are excellent and the pictures informative.

It is nice to see this level of quality in such a cloudy and sometimes hyped subject matter. In a word: Inspirational.
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on January 29, 2016
This book is a joke. The third adjective in the title is "healthy", yet the whole 330 pages book contains only 15 pages about indoor air quality (IAQ) and no other content about "health". The 15 pages are just common knowledge. The best advice on IAQ is "open the window" and "stay away from radon".

Here are some more themes from this book: The toxic substances in "glues, fillers, paints, or solvents" are like the "smog" - things that nobody has seen or been worried about. Even now, people are still "short on answers" on those. The fiberglass and mineral wool will just make "your skin itch". But air ducts coated in them are great because they bent so well. The same is true of colorful plastic plumbing - it bents so well. And mercury in your CFLs is not a big deal because the coal industry dumps much more of it into air...
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on January 23, 2012
Great book overall. Probably the perfect book for a beginner in trying to build green. Actually a perfect book for EVERYONE that owns a home, is going to build a home, or knows someone that does. A lot of concepts are explained in a subject that is often misunderstood. I would Highly recommend people read this as one of their first books on this subject. A lot of quality information that can definitely lead to a greener home, life, and ultimately a less expensive but yet comfortable lifestyle. No doubt that this book can save you money, help save the environment, and reduce the energy needed to live in any home.

Sheds some light on many often overlooked concepts of building. A lot of pictures to help you along the way. Many ideas and concepts are explained, even the ones the other doesn't think are the best, but leaves it up to you.

Does a great job of giving the full explanation of "green". Many different ways to come up with what is "green" and what isn't. He gives you all the information for ALL the possibilities and lets you decide for yourself which one is best for you. Just because something is recycled doesn't necessarily mean it is the best option for you. Something else that might be manufactured may very well be the most cost efficient for you in the long run, and therefore "green". - I really enjoyed this thought process.

The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because it doesn't have as much detail in it as the best book I have read on the subject. A definite "must read", but as a more general overview, and after that you will need to go elsewhere for more detail. Highly Recommend.
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on December 20, 2013
A informative book on what to do in designing and building an efficient house.

This book is written mostly for cold climates, vice hot climates. It has a lot of high level knowledge about a house and the systems that can be utilized for efficiency. I ignored the parts that dealt with global warming and energy running out, as they are not really important to how the house should be designed and built.

They have done an excellent job of looking at what can be done today, and what makes sense to do in building a house. They seem to be more aimed at temperate and cold climates in the USA, and do not pay as much attention to hot climates, and what can be done in a hot climate to keep the place cool. In particular, what to do about windows, and house orientation etc. In temperate and cold climates, having lots of south facing windows and the thermal mass for the winter time makes sense. What are their recommendations for hot climates, where solar heating is not really needed in the house, except perhaps for a short period in the winter time? Good job. Interesting and informative book with lots of illustrations and photographs.
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on March 12, 2009
Well done reference book for not only professionals but home owners as well. Our architectural/ engineering office was very impressed with the well researched information. It is presented in a clear easy way for the home owner to understand yet a great guide for professionals in the building fields.
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