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Gifts for Your (Sustainable) Coffee Table

If a tree fell in a forest and was then smashed into pulp to create paper for a mass-produced book, would it make a sound? The following titles won’t solve this eco-ethical dilemma, but they may help you solve a few of your own.


This colorful, spiral bound book with tabbed sections and funny asides is full of surprising information. Packed with pragmatic tips on getting rid of the toxic chemicals that invade our homes, Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan’s Squeaky Green will change the way you think about cleanliness. While the “cute-factor” might be over the top, the actual content holds up in this room-by-room guide and will have you bidding farewell to your chemical tendency. At the very least, it will force you to reconsider the products, furnishings, and various homegoods you blindly trust. Squeaky Green will help you detox your home and change your lifestyle for the better.
Chronicle Books; $16.95


Written by experts at GreenSource Magazine, Emerald Architecture documents 24 in-depth case studies, providing “hard” information about every detail that goes into “green” architecture. Printed on uncoated, 100% recycled paper, Emerald Architecture takes a no-nonsense approach to essential concepts used in sustainable construction. While this would make a great text book for any architect, an occupation in the architectural or building industry is not necessary to find these case studies fascinating. Each study includes documentation of the carbon footprint and energy use of the structures, ranging from libraries to office buildings. Get to know what it really means, not to mention what it takes, to be
LEED-certified. McGraw Hill; $59.95


The Contemporary Design in Detail series takes a suitably visual look at architectural design details. Sustainable Environments, written by architect Yenna Chan, explores residences that have made the conscientious choice to lessen their impact on the environment. The book, which presents recent work by architects from around the globe in color photographs and architectural drawings, is separated into four sections: “Response to Place,” “Connection to Habitat,” “Conservation of Resources,” and “Use of Building Materials.” The reader sees first-hand the degree of difficulty that exists in making homes sustainable. It is a sacrifice, according to Chan, but for many, one worth making. Rockport Publishers; $50.00


Against both urban and suburban landscapes, the innovative homes found in James Grayson Trulove’s New Sustainable Homes: Designs for Healthy Living prove that lessening your carbon footprint doesn’t mean cutting back on aesthetics. The book provides detailed
descriptions of alternative materials widely available today, including water-retrieving concrete, bio-fiber panels, solar water heating systems, and high-thermal performance windows. Many people have been riding the environmentally conscious bandwagon before it became trendy. This book will teach you what it takes to join them. Collins Design; $35.00


In honor of TASCHEN’s 25th year, the German publisher has republished many previous titles in gorgeous hard-back volumes, including Green Architecture, written by James Wines (back in 2000). Exploring the history of environmentally-aware architecture and the effect it’s had on structures being built today, Wines (a devout follower of Frank Lloyd Wright) speaks out against an attentiveness to function and makes a case for architecture that not only focuses on technological solutions, but also tries to reconcile man and nature in its formal idiom. Ahead of the curve, visually stimulating, and beautifully bound, Green Architecture is a book collector’s dream. TASCHEN; $24.99

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