The book “Energy Efficient Buildings: Architecture, Engineering, and Environment” by Hawkes and Forster is a little misleading in its title since it only covers large educational and commercial buildings for the most part. The residential buildings it covers are also large multifamily structures.

It does not address smaller buildings at all and the title should make some reference to this.

As a New York green contractor primarily interested in smaller buildings I did not get as much as I would have liked from the book for this reason.

Nonetheless it does showcase some beautiful structures that exemplify our societies best technological achievements. In this I am also pointing out that the book is almost void of structures that rely on more natural low tech materials and techniques.

I tend to be more of a low tech green builder, looking more to how things were built two thousand years ago for inspiration rather than building techniques that require a PhD in molecular chemistry to understand.

The buildings in this book have a lot of very advanced engineering and chemistry, and in many ways is a glimpse into the future of building. My one  concern is that these same buildings have a lot in them that can break.

I am a huge fan of Passive House construction, which is the height of modern technological building, so I fully support using modern science to increase the energy efficiency of buildings.

However I would have loved to see more examples of earth sheltered buildings with integrated biology. The buildings in this book continue in the tradition of beautiful structures standing in start contrast with their surroundings. The artist statement. The “creative genius” of the lone architect.

Mont Cenis Training Center, an example of the books’ buildings.

My preference is the opposite, where the builder attempts to remove their signature and simply highlights the genius of nature. A non-building hidden in a complex ecological network of natural and human bio-systems, very much along the line of Malcolm Wells‘ design.

A Building by Malcolm Wells

Lastly, how can you make a book about energy efficient buildings without mentioning Passive House? That is like writing about renewable energy and not mentioning solar panels.