Sustainable Design


  • Architecture 2030. Focused on combating global warming by changing the building industry, Architecture 2030 teaches about the affects of climate change and building initiatives that can help negate those affects.
  • Created by co-author of The Green Museum: A Primer on Environmental Practice, this site holds suggestions for making museums more sustainable as well as links to articles and sites which focus on greening the museum world.
  • Congress for a New Urbanism. As an organization dedicated to community based development, their site features publications and reports on urban planning, as well as a project database.
  • Environmental Design + Construction Magazine. A magazine for green building and design.
  • Green Builders. A one-hour high definition special, narrated by Brad Pitt, which profiles a cast of green building pioneers who have taken the leap into making their structures more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
  • Green Design Wiki. Dedicated to gathering information pertaining to green exhibit design, this site allows readers to submit and review articles on various topics in the realm of green exhibits.
  • Greener Buildings. Find articles on architecture and design, building materials, energy use and water use on this resource center for development.
  • Reusable Resources Association. This site is focused on connecting businesses with educators to promote the use of reusable resources in education and creative play.
  • The Sustainable Communities Network. SCN is focused on creating rural and urban community sustainability. Organizations and publications oriented around smart growth and sustainable community development can be found on SCN’s site.
  • Sustainable Museums. A blog that focuses on greening museums' practices and programs, from dumpster-diving to strategy, with some funding on the side.
  • Zero Waste. Discovery Museum of San Jose's Replication Toolkit.




  • A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishiwaka, & Murray Silverstein (Oxford University Press, 1977). This seminal book on architecture and design provides a universal "design language" which will enable a person to make a design for almost any kind of building or built environment. Using 250 archetypal "patterns" that are deeply rooted in the nature of things, the authors encourage designers and builders to think about the relationship of the parts to the whole.

  • A Primer on Sustainable Design, Rocky Mountain Institute, Dianne Lopez Barnett with William D. Browning, 1995, 1998). This book provides a very complete and easy to read introduction to the principles of sustainable design and construction. Though geared toward building design, its clear, concise overview of the process of sustainable design and building makes it a must read.

  • A Safe and Sustainable World: The Promise of Ecological Design, Nancy Jack Todd.

  • Biomimicry, Janine M. Benyus (Perennial, 2002). Science writer Janine Benyus shows how innovators in many fields are looking at the natural world, copying and mimicking nature's processes, unearthing nature's hidden mysteries and analyzing natures' best ideas in order to learn from nature and adapt natural processes for human use. Highlighting pioneering breakthroughs in industry, Benyus provides important lessons for living sustainably and in harmony with nature.

  • Caring Spaces, Learning Places: Children's Environments That Work, Jim Greenman (Exchange Press, 1988). Though written for child care professionals, there is much to learn in this book. Greenman focuses on the importance of using space creatively, imaginatively and with care in order that children's indoor and outdoor play experiences may be rich and meaningful.

  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough and Michael Braungart (North Point Press, 2002). This visionary book invites readers to replace the old ideas of reduce, reuse, recycle, or "being less bad" with a new vision using nature as a model for making things. McDonough and Braungart imagine a world with a closed biological loop, where nothing is wasted and everything is recycled. Unlike many gloom and doom books on environmental issues, this book offers a refreshing, uplifting and optimistic approach to using creativity, technology and radical new ways of thinking to change industry and rethink the way we make things. This is essential reading for museum designers and fabricators.

  • Deep Design, David Wann (Island Press, 1996). The author explores a new way of thinking about design, one that is based upon looking at natural systems and begins with the question "What is our ultimate goal? before the first step is taken. Wann interviews more than 50 innovative designers in a wide variety of fields as his jumping off point.

  • Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must Be Sustainable, Nathan Shedroff (Rosenfeld Media, 2009). In this book, Nathan Shedroff explores practical strategies for sustainability and ways to include sustainability into current development processes.

  • Designs for Living and Learning, Deb Curtis and Margie Carter (Redleaf Press, 2003). Curtis and Carter draw inspiration from educators and other thinkers, from Waldorf to Montessori to Reggio to Greenman, Prescott and Olds. They outline hundreds of ways to create healthy and inviting physical, social and emotional environments, particularly for children in child care, but with plenty to consider for children's museums, too. Hundreds of compelling, full-color photographs.

  • The Art of Natural Building, Joseph Kennedy (editor), Michael Smith, Catherine Wanek. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to natural building. Suitable for lay people, architects or designers, it covers a vast array of natural building techniques that can be employed for interior and exterior wall structures, from straw bale to cob, to recycled concrete and salvaged materials and more.

  • The Natural Step Story: Seeding A Quiet Revolution, Karl-Henrik Robert (New Society, 2002). The author outlines a framework, The Natural Step, for strategic planning to move organizations and businesses toward sustainability. Working with companies like Starbucks, Nike, IKEA, McDonalds, and Home Depot, Robert shows how companies can make a profit and work toward environmental and social responsibility. This book tells the story of the organization's beginnings and sheds light on the international movement that provides education and support for businesses and organizations worldwide that are seeking to move toward sustainability.

  • The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture and Human Intention. David Orr (Oxford University Press, 2004). David Orr provides an integrated vision of the role of design and its relationship with nature. Combining theory, practicality and a call to action, Orr brilliantly outlines what is needed for an ecological design revolution. Weaving together politics, ethics, education with building and technology design, Orr's book is full of charity, love and deep respect for children and their rights to inherit a healthy planet. A must read.

  • The Philosophy of Sustainable Design, Jason F. McLennan

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