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Book Review: The Green Studio Handbook
Alison G. Kwok & Walter T. Grondzik 2011
Architectural Press; 2nd edition (May 2011)
Price in UK pounds | Price in US dollars
Alison G. Kwok's and Walter T. Grondzik's 2011 updated edition, The Green Studio Handbook is a concise, clear and relevant book which provides a substantial amount of information and consideration regarding environmentally sensitive design. The book boasts it is a 'handbook for schematic design', and it would be hard to play that down. With over 400 pages, rich graphics including diagrams, sections, plans, schematics, and well summarized case studies, there is a lot to get through. 

The book is written in simple chapters which are based on the themes of 'green design', and early on, the poignant debate is sparked regarding 'sustainable' vs 'green' when justifying the title. The Authors set out that 'green' is worthy of discussion, as it 'describes the limits of what a resource can realistically address in time'. Sustainability is discussed as broader in its reach to green, addressing longer term wider goals in regard to economic, social and environmental factors. As the reader will become aware, the thesis of the book is not about eco add ons or 'sustainable' systems, but rather, well thought through strategies that are embedded early in the design process, aiming to create 'high performance green buildings', which are a step towards sustainability.

With the objectives set, the 'Studio' is broken down, where the authors discuss how to get the best out of the design process and achieve intentions through research, testing and validation.  Clear headings illustrate a methodological and scientific approach to 'integrated design'.

The body of the volume is the handbook, which covers envelope, lighting, heating, energy production, water and waste management, and a section of fully illustrated projects. Each chapter is covered with clear and methodical architectural issues, implementation considerations, design procedure and illustrated examples.  The authors are not shy of getting into the numbers, which is really useful, especially for topics such as energy loads, heating and water management where the equations are explained using step by step worked examples.  

Each theme and containing strategies are outlined, and a recurring message throughout the book, is that with schematic design it is about choice, and there is no real 'best' strategy, rather; site analysis, research, constraints and thoughtful consideration will lead to a suitable solution. 

The Green Studio Handbook achieves its intentions, in providing a good understanding of the wide ranging strategies within environmental design and the multiple and often conflicting factors that designers have to consider. It provides clear and stimulating read, and would be recommended for an introduction for undergraduate students, as a refresher for graduates and also would be a good reference for working professionals. 

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