Green Design for a Good Living

Alison G. Kwok, Walter T. Grondzik, The Green Studio Handbook. Environmental Strategies for Schematic Design, 2nd edition, New York: Architectural Press, 2011.

Review by Angelica Fortuzzi

Alison G. Kwok, AIA, architect and professor of architecture at the University of Oregon, she taught in architecture programs in California, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Japan, and New York. Walter T. Grondzik, PE, is an architectural engineer and a professor of architecture at Ball State University. He has taught in architecture and architectural engineering programs in Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Saudi Arabia.

The Biourbanism approach emphasises the need of harmonic solutions in the design of spaces, to make our environments and buildings sensibly better, since, according to what Stephen Kellert writes about biophilic principles “human brain responds functionally to sensory patterns and cues emanating from natural environment”. A good architecture really makes the difference for the total well-being of our body and mind. Spaces with natural light and ventilation and other environmental features result in improved mental and physical performance, lowering the stress. Therefore, a good and responsible use and implementation of natural resources, knowing of the natural resource savings strategies, regarding energy, water and material resources, are fundamental elements to design and an effective high-performing architecture, which is friendly for the environment and human life.

Kwok and Grondzik stress the role of the book, thought as a reference guide to green design, not as a checklist. A source of inspiration for architects and students in university design studio or seminar courses.

The authors provide tools for the preliminary sizing of green strategies, to choose the most appropriate. An introduction focuses on the issues of the design process and integrated design. Then, a relevant part of the book describes the forty-two selected green design strategies, identifying the following main topics: Envelope, Lighting, Heating, Cooling, Energy Production, Water and Waste.

Each strategy is analysed with brief descriptions of principles and concepts, approaches, with key architectural issues, implementation considerations, design procedure, examples and drawings. A reference is provided for further information to the international standards, rating systems, guidelines, and Internet sources.

Furthermore, the Case Studies chapters provide a diversity of geographic locations, climates, building types and green strategies with a roadmap to quickly understand the main differences. A glossary of terms and buildings gives a useful aid at the end of the book.