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Designing the Sustainable Site | Book Review

Designing the Sustainable Site

A book review on Designing the Sustainable Site: integrated design strategies for small-scale sites and residential landscapes, by Heather Venhaus; Matt McCaw.  At this time, we want to introduce you to a complete, practical guide to facing the challenge of sustainable design beyond simply “doing no harm”. Through a holistic perspective, author Heather Venhaus draws attention to the landscape we are most exposed to: the outdoor small-scale sites we pass by every day. Her wide background working on multidisciplinary teams, always in search of better standards and strategies, was key in her writing of Designing the Sustainable Site. The book takes a look at sustainable design through the lens of experience, offering practical tips and methodology.

Designing the Sustainable Site

Front cover of Designing the Sustainable Site. Photo credit: Elisa
García Nieto

Designing the Sustainable Site

Clues After the First Impression The soft cover, just a bit smaller than A4 format and less than 0.8 inches thick, makes the book ideal for any personal library. There is much information condensed in its pages, however, and even at first sight, Designing the Sustainable Site looks like an easy-to-read piece of writing due to its clean composition and the nice balance between text and graphic elements. In that sense, it is coherent to the visual style that most designers naturally prefer. Just a little note: Although the pages are populated with representative photographs from different projects and the images are involved in the explanation of the ideas in a well-driven way, this is not the kind of book focused on showing a masterwork through graphic documents. You should not expect to find constructive details of alternative solutions. Get it Here! Beyond the Conventional Green One of the aspects really reinforced by Designing the Sustainable Site is the interconnection among different fields and characters involved in the development of sustainability. In fact, the book understands the phenomenon as a big picture, including information about maintenance guides, budget, health, and energy as part of this global point of view.

Designing the Sustainable Site

Inside Designing the Sustainable Site. Photo credit: Elisa
García Nieto

Throughout the different chapters, we learn the importance of thinking about projects in terms of regenerative and resilient systems. What does that mean to the author? In comparison with the stereotype of developing greenfields or making minor consumption of resources and waste production when thinking of sustainability, she talks about an extra factor — in her own words, “we must also reverse degradation of earth´s natural resources”. Other book reviews you may be interested in:

The Structure One of the main features of this book is its practical orientation. The structure is clear and simple: After brief introductions to different subjects, the readers are soon addressed to design considerations and strategies, pieces of advice, and, finally, real projects that work as case studies.

Designing the Sustainable Site

Inside Designing the Sustainable Site. Photo credit: Elisa
García Nieto

The range of projects behind this “case of study” label is quite wide, including residential gardens, schoolyards, and streetscapes. However, there are also mentions of several interesting projects throughout the book, which appear to illustrate specific subjects such as permeable paving, stormwater management, living walls, and drainage pipes, among others. Get it Here! The Content Diving into Designing the Sustainable Site, you will find eight chapters covering the environmental requirements and alternatives for high-quality landscape design. They start from general aspects through shorter chapters about the impact and context of sustainable projects, and move on to a more extended group of chapters under the title of Sustainable Solutions for specific technical subjects. What issues are included in this collection? Air pollution; questions related to water, such as shortages, pollution and urban flooding; invasive species; and loss of biodiversity. In addition, there is a whole chapter called The Sustainable Site Process, which assists and guides designers to review the methods and characters involved in truly integral green strategies.
Designing the Sustainable Site

Inside Designing the Sustainable Site. Photo credit: Elisa
García Nieto

The Extras Lists of references and resources are provided chapter by chapter to go deeper into the information if necessary, so our knowledge does not end with the last page. I would like to highlight two useful extras at this point: the free online tools to do some calculations and the reliable database links. With its ready-to-use and comprehensive style, the content is expanded upon through use of tables, schemes, and graphics. That makes the knowledge easily accessible for professionals to check or refresh, and even valuable for the academic environment.
Designing the Sustainable Site

Click HERE and pick up your copy of Designing the Sustainable Site. Photo credit: Elisa
García Nieto

In conclusion, Designing the Sustainable Site provides a really complete perspective for professional use and puts together interesting collections of practical strategies and resources. After reading the book, you will leave with a positive sensation of having learned something valuable to apply to your next project.

Pick up your copy of Designing the Sustainable Site today!

Review by Elisa García Nieto Return to Homepage

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