The Eco-Home Design Guide – Book Review

The Eco-Home Design Guide
Principles and practice for new-build or for retrofit
by Christopher Day
Published by Green Book 29th October 2015
ISBN 9780857843050 (paperback)
£24.99 paperback (£39.99 hardback) 256 pages, 255mm x 205mm

4039With a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales

The Eco-Home Design Guide is the fantastic new book by Christopher Day. Designing an eco home is about working with your house's place and situation, not about relying on intrusive technology and hi-tech materials.

Christopher Day draws on his extensive experience to explain the key principles of eco-home design, common-sense methods to create a pleasant, comfortable and healthy home, all illustrated with beautifully simple hand-drawn illustrations. The book includes several case studies of eco homes, reviewing with the hindsight of what worked well and what could have been better. It is perfect for anyone designing or building their own eco-home as well as for professional builders, architects, surveyors and developers. If buying to eco-convert the book shows how to work out how easy it will be to remedy the problems of an existing building.

Compared to a conventional house, an eco-home will be more comfortable thermally, cheaper to keep warm or cool, healthier and more resilient to extreme weather and power disruptions. By looking at a variety of “why”, “where”, “how”, “what” and “when and who” issues you can identify what aspects of eco-design are important for you, enabling you to create a home that is in harmony with the environment around it at the same time as matching your individual physical, social aesthetic and space needs – a house where life is worth living.

Day's approach to eco building uses simple, easily-accessible materials and techniques and remedying shortcomings of a home's location to give an improved microclimate. This not only keeps the embodied carbon of the building lower, it also makes it accessible to anyone building with a limited budget or poor access to resources (such as in the developing world).

Unlike most building and design books, The Eco-Home Design Guide encourages people to think of whole- of-life care. This makes it perfect for anyone who wants to design a home that is wheelchair friendly. With the benefit of experience, Day shows how a few small changes can make sockets and switches accessible or enable a wheelchair user to turn around easily in a corridor.

Regardless of your reasons for building or retrofitting an eco-home, Christopher's advice is the perfect starting point. He walks you through all the essentials, helping you to put together a realistic and achievable design, whether you are an homeowner taking on your first project, or an experienced architect or developer.

Christopher Day has studied architecture and sculpture and has been committed to eco-architecture and an ecological lifestyle since the 1970s. He was Visiting Professor in Architecture at Queen's University of Belfast and has received four design awards, including a Prince of Wales Award, for his work on eco-houses and Steiner schools. He is the author of Consensus Design; Environment and Children and Spirit and Place. In his Dying: Or Learning to Live? he talks about how he came to terms with his diagnosis of motor neurone disease (ALS).

This is a very detailed book that looks at all aspects of eco-home design and the refurbishment of older buildings into eco-homes. When I say all aspects I do mean all aspects, up to and including perimeter defense, that is to say making your home and properly secure against intruders, including defensive landscaping, though there are still more of those, if one should need them, that are not covered in this book.

A great manual, for a manual it is, for anyone considering designing, building an eco-home, or refurbishing/retrofitting an old(er) home to eco-home standards.

A great and extremely useful manual. Five out of five for sure.

© 2015