Your Summer Reading List:

Passive House Edition

Summer is here, and your bookshelf is calling. Whether you’re looking for a book to unwind with at the beach, kill a few hours on a plane, or an audiobook for a road trip or daily commute, we’ve got you covered. Here are some great books on sustainability, climate, and hope for the future.

The Story of Upfront Carbon: How a Life of Just Enough Offers a Way Out of the Climate Crisis – Lloyd Alter

Fresh off the printing press, our friend Lloyd Alter’s latest book examines where carbon emissions can be found, the emissions involved in making everyday objects, and our consumption-driven culture. Learn about the complex web of cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessments, learn the rationale behind carbon minimalism, and discover how the wider picture of a broader, systemic approach to determining a product’s ecological footprint can guide the transition to a state of sustainable consumption he terms “sufficiency,” ultimately leading to zero-carbon society.

Join Lloyd Alter on July 2nd as we feature his book on PHN Presents. We encourage you to read the book and come with questions! It’s like the Passive House Book Club you’ve always wanted. Learn more and register here.

Post Growth: Life After Capitalism – Tim Jackson

Post-Growth is an economic school of thought that is getting widespread attention. It argues that capitalism’s demand for growth and its success as measured in GDP are destructive and unsustainable and blind us to other possibilities. Weaving together philosophical reflection, economic insight, and social vision, Tim Jackson provides an alternative narrative, outside our traditional mythologies, for greater prosperity, happiness, and sustainability.

Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet – Hannah Ritchie

While it’s common to be bogged down with doomsday headlines that predict crop failures and unlivable temperatures, the Our World in Data scientist Hannah Ritchie argues that the wider picture is much more hopeful than snapshot headlines portray. A hard look at the data shows we’ve made great progress on these problems, and if we keep it up, we could be on track to achieve true sustainability. The research, guidance, and graphics in this book will help you understand the current crisis and break down our climate crisis into solvable challenges.


Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope – Mark Manson

If you still don’t believe that we’re not f*cked, this book meets you where you are. With compounding calamities worldwide, this book offers a counterintuitive psychological and philosophical lens to dissect them. With wit and humor, Manson looks at our human relationships with money, entertainment, and the internet and helps us define what the harm is with too much of a good thing. The author challenges our definitions of faith, happiness, and freedom and makes us think anew about hope.


The Ministry for the Future – Kim Stanley Robinson

Do you have a long road trip coming up? A transatlantic plane ride, perhaps? This might be the book for you. Said to be one of the best nonfiction-fiction books ever written, Robinson’s 2021 door-stopper (clocking in at almost 600 pages, so don’t say we didn’t warn you) uses fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. This is a global story of the death and destruction the climate crisis has in store for us. Still, it’s also a model of the international cooperation we’ll need to create a better world–because, as the book shows us, a better world is possible, and while there are challenges to getting there, the end product is more than worth it.

The Power of Existing Buildings: Save Money, Improve Health, and Reduce Environmental Impacts – Robert Sroufe, Craig Stevenson, & Beth Eckenrode

Existing buildings are an incredible asset in our quest to decrease energy consumption and carbon emissions. Academic sustainability expert Robert Sroufe and construction and building experts Craig Stevenson and Beth Eckenrode explain how to unlock the power of existing buildings in a step-by-step guide, enabling readers to understand where to start a project, develop financial models, realize cost savings, assemble and expert team, and align project goals with sustainability goals. It’s a book of practical insights that will help you make actionable progress in the quest for zero energy buildings.


Building for People: Designing Livable, Affordable, Low-Carbon Communities – Michael Eliason

Okay, this book won’t be released until December, but this Summer Reading List wouldn’t be complete without our friend Michael Eliason’s forthcoming book. What do we picture when we think of a beautiful, green neighborhood where most of our needs are within a walkable distance or otherwise accessed through public transit? Filled with full-color images and figures highlighting the affordable, climate-adaptive design of eco-districts, he makes the case that low-carbon eco-districts are the way forward to directly and equitably address our housing shortages while simultaneously planning for climate change.

Pre-orders have a huge impact on book rankings and sales, so by pre-ordering this book, you’ll help get it into the hands of more people (and it will be here just in time for your Winter Reading List!).

*We suggest purchasing or pre-ordering these books directly from the publisher to support the authors or ordering from your local independent bookstore to support your community.