Mind & Matter


A Standout Among Eco-Design Manuals

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A chart generated with CES EduPack software, featured in Materials and the Environment.


As the number of published books on green materials increases, predictable themes and methodologies are often repeated. However, a new book by eminent scholar Michael Ashby offers refreshingly useful insights regarding environmental approaches to selecting materials for design applications.

Materials and the Environment (Elsevier Press, 2009) is geared primarily to product designers, but many of the topics related to resource consumption and embodied energy are equally practical for architects. Moreover, many of the provocative investigations of material life cycle data include buildings in relation to other forms of design. (For example, one diagram demonstrates that more energy consumption occurs in the materials of a multi-story parking garage as opposed to the ongoing use of an airplane.)

Featuring updated strategies related to eco-audits and environmental legislation—as well as detailed data-sheets for 60 of the most commonly used materials—Ashby's treatise on eco-informed environmental choice is a welcome addition to an architect's library.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.