Media - Our Latest Book and Radio Programs

What an inspired, clear, and exciting guide to improving our design/construction processes. I am a third through the book but can't see myself beginning a new project without implementing what I have learned so far. Therefore, we have planned our first Goal Setting Workshop for a new project near the end of this month, and I am tasked with serving as a process facilitator and presenter of the Integrative Design Process/Systems Thinking Concept.

I see great power in the many stories and pictures in your book. Thank you for sharing your talents and passion.

- Michael G. Hummel -

From start to finish, the authors of this book have laid out a clear and comprehensive roadmap which redefines the way we currently design and operate our buildings.

This is a must read for every real estate and building professional that seeks to move beyond basic "green" to restorative and regenerative buildings and communities. From the "Discovery Phase" through Post-Occupancy, each stage of the development process is clearly described with pertinent case studies and numerous resources for readers to further research the subject matter.

Our current development industry is plagued by a broken design process and this book takes a giant leap forward in beginning to repair this process and transform the way our industry engages building design and construction. Indeed, I suspect many readers will go through their own personal transformation after reading this book. This is by far the new definitive text on Integrative Design.

-Jason Twill - Senior Project Manager Sustainability (Seattle, WA)

Change is hard and let's face it, while LEED was / is an excellent tool or primer on green design it will never get us to truly impacting climate change. Designers must let go of the old implementation model with LEED tacked on. We must encourage creative and whole system thinking within our entire stakeholder team.

This book is great for managers, in that in lays out a profitable implementation process. Its also great for soul. Should you take it to heart you will enjoy a better working and community environment. Just maybe we can regain our spiritual connection to earth as well. Should be required university reading for all architecture and engineering practice management classes.

- Charles W. Brown -

The "How To" integrative design process is clearly and consisely explained in the heart of this book - essential reading for future green building Owners, Designers, Engineers,Contractors & LEED AP's.

We can and MUST do better job of creating, constructing & operating healthier buildings. The authors propose a simple first step for the Owner - select the project team members upfront (including the CM or GC!) and conduct a series of structured hands-on goal-setting work sessions. These sessions tap into the collective knowledge base and allow everyone to creatively participate in the all-important "Discovery Phase," before the first line is drawn. We should have been doing this long ago!

- Jon R. Barrett - (Rochester, NY)

Last week my bedtime reading was the Stern Review - I haven't finished it because, I am inclined to believe, it was causing me to wake up in the middle of the night in cold sweats. Don't read the Stern Review right before lights out! So I searched my bookshelf for an unread tome that would provide for some more positive reading, and picked out this book. I haven't put it down since.

From the cover this looks like a text book, but you know what they say about judging books. This is anything but a dry technical manual, it is instead a compelling, no, inspiring, and well argued case for a new collaborative way of designing the buildings that the world needs to start developing in order to properly address, and begin to redress the environmental problems we face today.

- TShen -

The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building:
Redefining the Practice of Sustainability

By 7group and Bill Reed, 2009, Wiley & Sons; 416 pages, $75
Order online from: Wiley & Sons Publishing or from

Seeking to “redesign the design process,” as they put it, the authors of this remarkable book share their unquenchable spirit of inquiry. At the core of the book is an expanded and updated presentation of their method of integrative design—“integrative” because the integration is ongoing, never completed as would be implied by the more common term “integrated design.”

In that sense, this book is like a reference guide to the “Whole Systems Integrated Process Guide (WSIP) 2007 for Sustainable Buildings & Communities,” an ANSI/MTS standard (see EBN September 2007). But wrapped around that step-by-step, nuts-and-bolts guidance are the big ideas that inform this integrative process. Understanding that buildings, their components, and their context are nested whole systems, the way to solve interconnected problems without creating new ones is to “solve for pattern.” This is done by discovering the story of each place, and designing not merely to restore ecological functions but to facilitate the ongoing evolution of a place to higher and better functioning.

Ultimately, the focus of resources, energy, and attention that comes about when designing and building or renovating a facility becomes an opportunity to transform both the place and the participants, helping both initiate a continuing evolution. If this all sounds like pie-in-the-sky idealism, read a few of the many real-world stories to see the potential.

– Nadav MalinMore reviews

Radio Programs

Building Deeper Green: Reframing Sustainability is a series of radio programs which aired on "The Green Talk Network". (Note: Shows are recorded in mp3 format. If your computer does not have an mp3 player you may listen to the programs here.)


What are Green Buildings?
Green buildings are promoted by many practitioners as a way to achieve sustainability; in fact, they are a way to work towards a sustainable condition but a building by itself can never be sustainable. This program will explore the various claims of sustainability, why they are valid and why they are also insufficient. From the beginning of the energy efficiency and solar movement in the 1970’s through today’s popular and transformational LEED Green Building Rating System and the Living Building Challenge, Bill Reed and John Boecker will explore the implications of our scientifically fragmented approach. A scientific reductionist perspective is useful to address the problems that a reductionist science based world-view has caused. To address life as a whole inter-connected, and evolving process requires us to work with a pattern-based approach in order to address the complexities of how humans and natural systems interact with each other.

The Two Paths of Systems Thinking
We engage systems every day - electrical systems, water systems, transportation systems, and so on. When we think about the need to address more complex living systems such as food, habitat, and social systems, the ability to understand and resolve all these issues together seems insurmountable. To do so requires us to work with a whole living system from the perspective of a new mental model. We generally try to solve the problems of the world through a reductionist model that breaks large systems into fragments to isolate the issues. However, life works as an interrelated web; the ability to understand it is lost when we break it into pieces. While interactions between technical systems, such as buildings, can be relatively easily addressed, human and natural living systems require a qualitative approach that is understood through the unique patterns of life in each place we live. It’s actually easier to work this way – once we break the habit of looking at life in pieces.

What Does it Mean to Sustain Life?
We generally think of humans as separate from nature, but to create a truly sustainable condition, it will be necessary for us to shift our mental model to one that acknowledges all of life as an integrated whole system. Just as plants and bees have roles, humans also have roles in sustaining the web of life. Over the past three or four decades our understanding of how the indigenous peoples of North America did this is becoming clear. Our predecessors spent millennia managing and tending their places, thriving in mutually beneficial relationships, and living with abundance. What can we learn from this new understanding of our continent’s history prior to European settlement? How can we too inhabit our places in healthy interrelationship in order to sustain life - how can we “re-member”? Our guest, Dr. Gerould Wilhelm – botanist, hydrologist, and native American scholar – will tell us stories about how fire, water, soil, and humans play vital roles in the Living System.

How Can We Create Healthy Habitat?
We use a number of terms to describe how we, as a culture, work with the environment; the terms we choose imply how we are in relationship with it. We use words such as high performance, conservation, restoration, and regeneration in an attempt to try clarify the vaguely defined concepts of ecological and sustainable design. What do these words mean? Why are each necessary? Why is it important that we achieve alignment around what these mean? And, why are these important to understand in relation to how we design and build buildings? Our guest, Keith Bowers, is the founder and president of Biohabitats, a leading firm working in the field of habitat restoration – and one of the earliest. Keith is an internationally recognized landscape architect. He has planned, designed, and managed the construction of over 200 ecological restoration projects. We will be discussing his insights, practice, and approaches to the integration of human shelter, communities, and living systems.

How Do We Care for Water?
Agua es vida. The Spanish expression, ‘water is life’ is simple and direct. Yet in western civilization we use water with little understanding of its source or value; rather, we use it to flush away our waste, treating it as a waste product. With .7% of the world’s water in potable form, we can no longer afford to take it for granted. Planning our buildings and communities around a continuous source of clean water is a matter of survival and health. By understanding the water cycle and living systems, though, we can easily achieve a nearly unlimited source of water in our built environment. Our guest, Michael Ogden, is the founder of Natural Systems International, an internationally recognized engineer focused on using the ecologies of pond, marsh, river, prairie, and woodland for the treatment and reuse of wastewater and stormwater. With his experience on over 500 projects involving such natural systems, he co-authored the book Constructed Wetlands in the Sustainable Landscape.

Is Sustainability All About Energy?
Our buildings produce 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions as a result of their energy consumption, thereby contributing more to climate change than either industry or transportation. Yet we continue to design buildings that waste energy. Generally, building designers attempt to conserve energy by applying more efficient technologies, and they can easily achieve 20% savings. However, it’s actually cheaper to achieve 40% or 50% energy savings by understanding the interrelationships between systems to reduce the building’s demand for energy in the first place. But is this enough; is cutting our energy use by 50% sustainable? Our guest, Marcus Sheffer, is a founding Partner of 7group, an internationally recognized green building and sustainability consulting firm. He has focused his efforts on energy issues for 25 years, and he has been involved in more than 100 LEED projects. He also currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Energy Technical Advisory Group.

Materials: Is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) the Holy Grail?
Our buildings consume roughly 40% of our raw materials; over 50% of our landfills’ content consists of building construction and demolition waste. Green building designers often consider the content of the materials being selected, such as recycled, reused, rapidly renewable, and regionally extracted components. Teams also manage construction methods to limit waste being sent to landfills. A more sophisticated approach asks designers to compare the environmental impacts of materials form “cradle to grave”, such as quantifying the energy embodied in these materials from mining, manufacturing, transporting, installing, maintaining, and disposing of these materials at the end of their useful life. Tools for such life cycle assessment, or LCA, are emerging. A “cradle to cradle” approach looks at how products can become “biological nutrients” at the end of their useful life.

What is the fifth universal element?
The last four episodes explored: Habitat, Water, Energy, and Materials. These four key subsystems correspond to the four elements of Alchemist tradition: Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. Eastern philosophy includes a fifth element: Akasha – space, spirit, or consciousness. This Sanskrit word means “ether”, or all-pervasive space; it is considered the first and most fundamental of the elements – the womb from which everything we perceive has emerged. Yet the role consciousness plays in pursuing sustainability remains largely ignored; this episode focuses on its practical ramifications. Our guest, Lauren Yarmuth, is a Principle of YRG Consultants, an international green consulting firm. She integrates her work on green buildings with yoga, using an approach that sees consciousness as a primary aspect of achieving a sustainable condition. We will discuss how and why pragmatic practitioners of green design are realizing the need to include this perspective in the world of green consulting.

Reflections and Stories
We reserved this episode to reflect on and tie together the preceding episodes. Each of our guests has provided us with a window or access point into understanding elements of the whole system. On a deeper level, they have helped us understand that we cannot create new potential in the world without creating new potential in ourselves. This thread runs through each episode, culminating in the last episode’s discussion about consciousness, about the work associated with “becoming” different: To do different things, we need to do things differently; To do things differently, we need to think differently; To think differently, we need to be different. Our guests have taught us about how they do this work through stories, so we will reflect on those and other stories, since storytelling is such an effective means for discovering the patterns and potential of living systems. Everyone has a story, and it is from these stories that we can begin to experience how we can be whole again.

How Sustainable is our Food?
Healthy soil, water, air and the sun are the fundamental elements necessary to create food for humans and to sustain the web of life. As such, these elements are essential for sustainability. What is the nature of connection, then, between human development, buildings, and our “fooding” systems, including agriculture? How are we degrading our food resources and what can we do about it? Our guest, Ben Haggard, is a partner of Regenesis, a consulting firm that engages green design from a radically different perspective — one that explores how human building activities can and should be engines of positive evolutionary change for all living systems. Ben is an award-winning landscape designer, educator, and founder of the Permaculture Drylands Institute. He helps develop models of practice that integrate living systems with large-scale development and planning. We will discuss the integral role of food in communities and how we can sustain the nutrient cycle for all of life.

How Can Development be Used to Understand and Sustain Life?
The term “development” is generally applied to “adding value” to a place through building; most often this value is conceived in economic gains alone. What happens when we extend this idea of adding value to include the health of all living systems? Such a mindset explores how the economic engine driving building activities can also be leveraged into transforming and regenerating the health of all life in that place. This requires an understanding of the interrelationships and patterns of the living systems (human and “natural”) that are unique to each place on the planet. Our guest, Joel Glanzburg, is an applied naturalist with Regenesis, a consulting firm that engages green design from a radically different perspective — one that explores how human building activities can and should be engines of positive evolutionary change for all living systems. Joel will discuss the art and science of how he comes to “know” a place and thereby discover its potential for sustaining life.

How Can We Sustain Sustainability?
After all the work we do to create green buildings and communities, what happens when the “experts” leave the job? Whatever level of environmental performance is achieved, the physical systems begin to break down. Whatever knowledge is conveyed about how these new, green systems work, people often forget the nuances and return to Business As Usual (BAU). How can we sustain and even improve what has been designed? Our guest, Carol Sanford, is the founder of Interoctave and a partner in the Regenerative Communities Group, consulting firms that engage green design and business consulting from a radically different perspective — human environments and activities can and should be engines of positive evolutionary change for all living systems. Carol has been leading major consulting efforts for Fortune 500 and new economy businesses for over 25 years. She has worked for companies such as Colgate, DuPont, Weyerhaeuser, Yahoo, Silicon Graphic, Agilent and many others.

How do we inspire change?
How do we elicit internal change in order to more effectively create external change? After all is said about green technologies and the integration of living and technical systems –none will be effectively employed unless we are inspired and energized to engage these concepts in our projects – to become different. An intentional shift in our state of consciousness is necessary to create a conscious shift in the world around us. We discuss the ways that we have seen this occur in ourselves and in others, then we explore how such change can be encouraged and nurtured in the design process.