Best New Books of 2014

book covers

As a sustainable building school, Endeavour tries to keep a well-stocked library of books for our students and workshop participants. Looking back at 2014, here are three books that I feel greatly improved our library:

Making Better Buildings bookMaking Better Buildings: A Comparative Guide to Sustainable Building, by Chris Magwood

  • Okay, perhaps it’s a bit of nepotism to include my own book on this list. But all of our work at Endeavour is aimed at helping people make good sustainable building choices. In the past, we’ve had to round up information from a wide range of sources to make comparisons between different material and system choices. This book puts all the information in one place, in as unbiased a manner as possible. Anybody thinking of undertaking a sustainable building or renovation project should spend some time with this book.

Earthen Floors bookEarthen Floors: A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice, by Sukita Reay Crimmel and James Thomson

  • Interest in earthen floors has always been high among sustainable builders, so it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for a good resource on the subject to become available. It couldn’t have come from a better source. The authors are leading practitioners and have been setting the standard for earthen floors in modern building for many years. The lack of solid, reliable information has held a lot of people back from trying an earthen floor… that no longer needs to be the case. Everything one needs to know about sourcing materials, mixing, applying and finishing can be found here.

hempcrete bookThe Hempcrete Book: Designing and Building with Hemp-Lime, by William Stanwix and Alex Sparrow

  • The buzz that surrounds hempcrete has been amplifying in the past decade, but it’s been difficult to find trustworthy, reliable information on the technique, free from “hemp-hype” that tends to make exaggerated claims. This book is an excellent and thorough introduction to the materials, mixes and application of hemp-lime in new construction and renovations. It’s as thorough a how-to guide as is possible to write, and the reader should be ready to tackle a project having digested the information contained here.

Yes, it’s still relevant to buy books

Even though the internet has brought access to a great deal of free information about sustainable building (including here on Endeavour’s site), there is still no comparison to the depth of reliable information available in a good book. Books cover their subjects thoroughly, the authors tend to be well-regarded experts and publishers have spent time ensuring the information is accurate and reliable. The combination of a good book and a hands-on workshop can ready anybody to undertake their own project in a way that months of online surfing simply cannot.

If you are considering buying these (or any other) books this year, we’d recommend you go directly to the publishers and buy there. Online sources like Amazon provide low prices, but at a great cost to authors and publishers. Support your sustainable building authors and buy direct!