The Greening of America’s Building Codes: Promises and Paradoxes

Princeton Architectural. Dec. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781648960086. pap. $29.95. REF
This title explores the forces and factors at work shaping sustainable architecture before the design process begins. These predesign forces are primarily building codes, but they also include subsidies, financial incentives, markets, and prevailing technologies. Architect Jaeschke (professor of architecture and sustainable design, Univ. of Texas at Austin) uses California’s residential building codes as the model to illustrate how the sustainability movement and a consumer-driven market economy focused on growth intertwine to affect what gets designed and built. The book notes the health and public-safety history of building codes in the U.S., describes the rise of the green economy and sustainable architecture, gives examples of how regulations work in practice, and provides transcripts of interviews with four individuals with experience in areas of predesign. It is a complex topic, but the author does an admirable job of detailing the many layers and using infographics to reinforce some of the key ideas. This title would enhance collections that also include Ann Thorpe’s Architecture & Design Versus Consumerism and Adrian Parr’s Hijacking Sustainability.
VERDICT Written for an architecture and construction audience, this history and critique of the greening of building codes would also be a good addition for collections with a focus on sustainability and ecology.
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