Taking a page from the playbook of the online architecture and design community Houzz.com, 150 Best Eco House Ideas draws its core strength not from words, but from well-executed photographic essays. There are some obvious benefits here to swiping hardbound pages versus clicking previous and next buttons in the Houzz app, namely the increased richness of coverage given to each of the 64 projects profiled, and the intrinsic ability of a printed page spread to convey expanses of architectural space. These studies are artfully documented not only through their many photos, but also by means of architectural drawings, illustrations, floor plans, and site plans.
Then of course, there is the omnipresent theme of sustainability that threads through all of the projects in this book, in contrast to the thematic diversity of Houzz where there are no such bounds. But one won’t purchase this book seeking detailed editorial dissertations, as author Marta Serrats has intentionally restrained inline copy. For example, in the Bluff House, a project from Wisconsin, the full text of the accompanying story reads as follows:
The shell of this house is composed of polyurethane structured insulated panels (SIPs) in the walls and ceiling, and the low-emission windows contain argon for insulation. The main level features a hydronic radiant floor heating system to maintain a comfortable atmosphere. Outside air is filtered through a fan that purifies it without cooling the room’s temperature.
Serrats augments these short stories, however, through her namesake 150 ideas, a stream of well-chosen sustainability tidbits sprinkled throughout as sidebars. In the Emu Bay House, a project from Australia, Idea 093 offers the following: “Metal is the most commonly used material for making rainwater storage tanks and cisterns. Galvanized steel is rustproof.”
For those seeking to incorporate more sustainability into their next project, remodel or from-the-ground-up build, this beautifully-rendered, 600-page read is an illustrative source of inspirational designs and ideas.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.