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Urban Green: Architecture for the Future Hardcover – July 5, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“Chambers sketches an ambitious way forward for the green building industry. Defining what green building is and how well its goals are being met, he explores where the movement needs to be a century from now.” ―The Washington Post
“Neil Chambers is a voice of reason and a visionary. Urban Green inspires and empowers us to creatively integrate sustainability into every level of our world - our homes, towns, cities and infrastructure so we can make room for the future of our planet and all things that live on it.” ―Dickson Despommier, author of The Vertical Farm
“Neil Chambers has an expert perspective on the deepest of home truths: We are what we live in (and work in), not just what we eat. Every building, he reminds us, is a pile of choices with implications for planet Earth.” ―David Quammen, author of The Song of the Dodo
“Technology meets ecology in Chambers' fascinating exploration of green building's current limitations and the emerging paradigm poised to supersede it.” ―Josh Dorfman, author of The Lazy Environmentalist
“As the world becomes more urbanized, there is bound to be conflict between our homes and the natural world. Chambers adds insights that are easy for the layman to understand and are told in an entertaining manner. I highly recommend reading this book.” ―Peter Fusaro, best-selling author of What Went Wrong at Enron, and Chairman, Global Change Associates
“Where is sustainability going? Let Urban Green point you in the right direction. It's a smart, bold look at the future of green. Full of passion as well as practical information, it declares war on the status quo of doing the bare minimum to go green. If you want a glimpse at a truly revolutionary perspective of how we can truly live in harmony with nature, this is the book.” ―Graham Hill, founder of treehugger.com and author of Ready, Set, Green
“Buildings, even "green" buildings, have impacts that ripple across the infrastructures of towns, suburbs, and cities. Those ripples also have far-reaching and underappreciated impacts on water, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and wilderness. Like a central stone at the summit of an arch or a predator maintaining biodiversity through strong species interactions, Urban Green is keystone: it melds the art (and science) of building design with the science of biodiversity conservation. A must read for anyone chasing the architecture of the future.” ―C. Josh Donlan, Advanced Conservation Strategies & Cornell University.
“Neil Chambers Urban Green is wide ranging, imaginative, and at times ornery and irreverent. This is just what we need to help rethink building in our immediate future. Chambers makes clear that orthodoxy about ‘green building' needs to be contextualized to take into account our development and use of energy, water, and space. More reflection and less impulsive action can go a long way in meeting many goals of an effective green movement.” ―Martin V. Melosi, author of The Sanitary City
About the Author
Neil B. Chambers is an award-winning green designer and founder of Chambers Design, Inc. and Green Ground Zero. He serves as an adjunct professor at NYU, teaching green design and environmental policy, and is a national fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program. Chambers has a growing media presence, both in traditional media and the blogosphere, where his blog on Treehugger.com, which is owned by Discovery, has an active following of 90,000 readers. He has also been featured in The Village Voice, Architectural Record, The Sun News and Timeout, and has been interviewed by BBC News, NY1, and Guernica magazine, which called him a "green guru."
Top customer reviews
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Urban Green is a short-read. It's interesting, it's fast-paced, and it covers a variety of captivating topics (almost to a fault). However, I finished the book and walked away sort of pissed off. It's been two weeks since I've read it, and it's taken me this long to digest the material that's there. Sure, I'd like to believe that super efficient electrical grids and cars we can plug in at the local McDonalds are going to ensure the quality of life and prosperity that I desire for my kids, but I shouldn't lie to myself. That's exactly what got me so pissed off about Urban Green... it's a reality check... it's essentially 244 pages of Neil Chambers pointing out that in many ways we're greenwashing ourselves toward disaster. Harsh.
Chamber's main point (or at least my synthesis of it), centers around the idea that design and architecture should be contextual. Installing a sustainable office park in the middle of a desert doesn't mean slapping in some low-flow water fixtures and plopping some solar panels on the roof. In fact, it might mean not placing the office park in an area where its very installation is going to exceed the carrying capacity of the local ecosystem. Sure the low-flow fixtures are great, but they don't totally mitigate the volumes of water we are sucking out of water tables that aren't regenerating fast enough. They certainly don't account for all the externalities of the infrastructure necessary to move the water to the site from more water-abundant regions.
Chamber's goes on to murder the latest bastion of Americanized-sustainability by pointing out that electric cars aren't really sustainable when the energy source they're using hosts more environmental problems than the energy source they're meant to replace.
Urban Green presents a fresh (albeit disturbing) look at the way we think about the built environment. It stings a little bit, but Chamber's plays the role of Drill Sergeant in driving home the point that our efforts aren't enough. We have pay even greater detail to the ecological context of the areas that we are working within and ensure that we are planning in a way that supports not only our own perpetuity, but our fellow species. As Chamber's would say, we have to start acting like a keystone species (meaning that we have to take into account our profound ability to alter the existence of our biological companions).
Pick it up. Read it. Get pissed off about hearing the cold, hard truth. Then go do something about it.
I've always thought that trying to keep up with the latest technologies and schemes to save the world can become confusing and overwhelming... Chambers brings the sustainability hoopla down to earth-- both literally and figuratively. He proposes that true sustainability can only come if we embrace the natural environment- understanding it so we can build successfully within it and get inspired by its genius designs. He urges that moving forward, we must demand that sustainability efforts be more than a quick fix-- they must be analyzed for their big picture, long term effect.
It makes sense. It's sustainable sustainability.
Chambers makes these big ideas approachable- there's a practicality behind his reasoning and an emphasis on action over rhetoric. From architects and designers to students and concerned citizens--Urban Green is a vital read for anyone who cares about the future of our planet.
It is the fact that Chambers walks the fine line between accessibility and innovation that this book is a rare find. For anyone interested in cities and sustainability this is a must read.
Now if I can only talk my wife into letting our lawn run wild. I won't miss cutting the grass for a second.