Every design-minded citizen loves a coffee table book with glossy photography and eye-catching projects. But every now and then, it’s nice to see a book about green design that takes a more in-depth, perhaps even academic approach to the rich, always evolving and ever-exciting field of ecological design. Few people know their stuff like Sim Van Der Ryn, who initially published Ecological Design in 1996, and has arguably been one of the grandfathers of green design, designing sustainably for the past 35 years. The book argues that in order to create a more sustainable world, our products, buildings, landscapes, and cities, need to be designed with a greater understanding of ecology. Read on to see what we thought of the 10th anniversary edition of this insightful text which is still relevant even though several more years have already passed.

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With chapter headings such as Nature’s Geometry, Solutions Grow From Place, and Make Nature Visible, along with a thorough Resource Guide for Ecological Design, Van Der Ryn and Cowan provide a both an overview and strategies for more ecologically-informed, environmentally-sensitive designs. Ecological Design is as informative as a college textbook yet as interesting and easy to read as that murder mystery from your last summer reading list (if you’re as big of a design nerd as we are, that is…)

Overview from Powell’s Books: “Using examples from architecture, industrial ecology, sustainable agriculture, ecological wastewater treatment, and many other fields, Ecological Design provides a framework for integrating human design with living systems. Drawing on complex systems, ecology, and early examples of green building and design, the book challenges us to go further, creating buildings, infrastructures, and landscapes that are truly restorative rather than merely diminishing the rate at which things are getting worse.”

+ Van Der Ryn Architects