Your Green Home: A Guide to Planning a Healthy, Environmentally New Home

Alex Wilson

Canada: New Society Publishers, 2006


Go Green Guidance is based in Phoenix, Arizona

Your Green Home: A Guide to Planning a Healthy, Environmentally Friendly New Home

Alex Wilson

Building a new home is, in essence, not an environmental practice. No matter what, a new home will influence the natural landscape, demand the use of products that were produced using energy or unsustainable resources, and will require energy for the transportation of materials and the construction itself. Alex Wilson’s goal is to help homebuilders minimize the carbon footprints of their projects. By describing the extensive considerations to make while designing a new home and clearly detailing the pros and cons of multiple options, Your Green Home can assist the owner-builder who wants to diminish the negative environmental impact of new construction.

Throughout Your Green Home, Wilson organizes information in an efficient, logical fashion, covering topics like how to find a green designer, what type of structural materials to use, and how to ensure the indoor air environment is as healthy as possible. Although the information is more technical than the average first time owner-builder would be familiar with, all building terms are defined in convenient glossary. It is also refreshing that Wilson seems to have no delusions about the trade-offs that come up for eco-builders, and the impossibility of having a zero-impact building experience. When discussing the various building materials available, Wilson writes:

For some people, the highest priority is sourcing all of the materials for a house from a 50-mile radius, and in this case straw-bale or adobe might be the building system of choice. Sacrificing optimal energy performance might be considered acceptable for people living in the country with a fully sustainable supply of fuel wood. (Although, given the increasing concerns about global climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions, energy conservation should always be a high priority…). (55)

One of the strengths of this text is its willingness to list the pros and cons of many different options and explain what choice is optimal for a variety of different hypothetical situations.

Overall, my greatest criticism of this book came in its diagrams and illustrations. While the majority of the information presented is very clear, the majority of the graphs and tables are indecipherable, and the illustrations are practically wasted ink. While this may not seem like a big issue, I do wish I had been able to compare fuel costs for various delivery systems and water heater efficiency as certain charts promised to do. Overall, though, most of the information is easily digestible, and the text directs readers to strong resources that can supply further information on nearly every topic.