Chelsea Green Publishing

The New Net Zero

Pages:576 pages
Size: 10 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603584487
Pub. Date June 30, 2014

The New Net Zero

Leading-Edge Design and Construction of Homes and Buildings for a Renewable Energy Future

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
June 30, 2014


The new threshold for green building is not just low energy, it’s net-zero energy. In The New Net Zero, sustainable architect Bill Maclay charts the path for designers and builders interested in exploring green design’s new frontier net-zero-energy structures that produce as much energy as they consume and are carbon neutral.

 In a nation where traditional buildings use roughly 40 percent of the total fossil energy, the interest in net-zero building is growing enormously–among both designers interested in addressing climate change and consumers interested in energy efficiency and long-term savings. Maclay, an award-winning net-zero designer whose buildings have achieved high-performance goals at affordable costs, makes the case for a net-zero future; explains net-zero building metrics, integrated design practices, and renewable energy options; and shares his lessons learned on net-zero teambuilding.

Designers and builders will find a wealth of state-of-the-art information on such considerations as air, water, and vapor barriers; embodied energy; residential and commercial net-zero standards; monitoring and commissioning; insulation options; costs; and more.

The comprehensive overview is accompanied by several case studies, which include institutional buildings, commercial projects, and residences.  Both new-building and renovation projects are covered in detail. 

The New Net Zero is geared toward professionals exploring net-zero design, but also suitable for nonprofessionals seeking ideas and strategies on net-zero options that are beautiful and renewably powered.


"Design is the first signal of human intention. Thoreau once wrote, 'What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?” Bill Maclay thoroughly describes an intentional architect’s Platonic search for truth in beauty and Aristotelian search for truth in science with a Hippocratic oath to seek to 'do no harm.'  With this fine book he provides a robust foundation for buildings that can rise up to become beneficial to people, place and planet."--William McDonough, coauthor of Cradle to Cradle and The Upcycle, founder of Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute

“This book will become a game changer at a pivotal point in history. The New Net Zero is a technical manifesto that brings together engineering, ecology, architecture, energy, the construction industry, transportation, and design into a coherent whole. Its goal is to transform the built environment into landscapes that heal, while reversing climate change. Immensely practical, thorough, and technologically comprehensive: it is a masterful job.”--John Todd, founder, John Todd Ecological Designs

"The New Net Zero is a thorough philosophical and technical rendering of the subject. What makes it exciting and meaningful is that it is not just about the details and technology, it also demonstrates how it is essential to build on human and other natural-system relationships to succeed. There is hope in these pages; this book goes a long way to prove that a sustainable future is possible and practical."--Bill Reed, coauthor of The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building and president of the Integrative Design Collaborative

"The New Net Zero is a treasure trove of design and construction knowledge gleaned over a 40-year career in creating leading-edge, net-zero-energy and near-net-zero-energy buildings of all types and sizes. Detailed, practical information on design is interspersed with beautifully illustrated case studies of Maclay's projects. If I could recommend only one book on low-energy, green building today, this would be it."--Alex Wilson, founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and president of the Resilient Design Institute 

"The New Net Zero is comprehensive, authoritative, beautifully written, well illustrated, and incredibly timely. With the effects of climate change escalating rapidly, moving away from fossil-fuel energy has become desperately necessary. The good news is that it has now become possible to cost effectively power our buildings entirely with renewable energy sources, and this is the best book yet about why and how to build net-zero buildings. Maclay and his team have long been leaders in proving the net-zero proposition, and he has gracefully delivered a detailed manual for the big design and building breakthrough that can happen now."--Tedd Benson, founder of Bensonwood & Unity Homes and author of Building the Timber Frame House, The Timber-Frame Home, and Timberframe


  • Winner - PubWest Book Design Awards - Silver in Large Format Cover Design Category - 2015


Bill Maclay

Bill Maclay, founder and president of Maclay Architects, has been a lecturer and educator at colleges, universities, and conferences focused on environmental design. He is also past president of the Vermont Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and has served on the board of directors of the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and the Yestermorrow Design/Build School, among other organizations.
Maclay and his firm have long been involved in research on all aspects of environmental design, including sustainable design, indoor air quality, building science, material selection, and related issues. Maclay committed to using renewable energy to create a nonfossil-fuel-based future in 1970. He developed, designed, and built one of the first renewable communities in the US, and his innovative renewable and energy-conserving projects have been exhibited and published internationally. Maclay Architects’ projects range from single-family residences to multifamily residential, commercial, and institutional projects.
Maclay has a BA from Williams College and a master of architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. 
Maclay Architects is located in Waitsfield, Vermont.


February 03, 2016

Bill Maclay at Better Buildings by Design

870 Williston Road, South Burlington, VT, 05403 | Bill Maclay
Bill Maclay will present at the 2016 Better Buildings By Design Conference at the Sheraton Conference Center on February 3-4, 2016. More details to come.

See all Events by this Author


Bill Maclay Speaking at Yestermorrow Event 02-22-11

Bill Maclay Speaking at Yestermorrow Event 02-22-11


The Natural Building Companion

The Natural Building Companion

By Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton

Natural buildings not only bring satisfaction to their makers and joy to their occupants, they also leave the gentlest footprint on the environment. In this complete reference to natural building philosophy, design, and technique, Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton walk builders through planning and construction, offering step-by-step instructions on:

  • siting and site analysis
  • choosing materials
  • integrating basic structural considerations into a design
  • strategies for heating/cooling efficiency and moisture management
  • planning for acoustics
  • developing an integrative design
  • navigating budgeting, code compliance, and project management
  • creating the foundation, wall system, roof, and floors
  • selecting and making plasters and paints
  • evaluating options for mechanical and utility systems
  • protecting against fire and insects
  • integrating structures within landscape, climate, and human communities

...and more

Applicable to building in climates that are cold and wet, hot and dry, or somewhere in-between, The Natural Building Companion provides the tools necessary to understand basic principles of building science, including structural and thermal engineering, and hydrodynamics. This guide offers thorough, up-to-date, and advanced installation details and performance characteristics of straw-bale, straw-clay, woodchip-clay, and cellulose wall systems, as well as earthen and stone wall systems and a variety of framing, roofing, flooring, mechanical system, and finishing options. This fully-illustrated volume informs professionals making the transition from conventional building, homeowners embarking on their own construction, or green builders who want comprehensive guidance on natural-building options. A State-of-the-Art Resource for Natural Builders The Natural Building Companion is a part of The Yestermorrow Design/Build Library and includes an instructional DVD.

Available in: Paperback

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The Natural Building Companion

Jacob Deva Racusin, Ace McArleton

Paperback $59.95

The Chelsea Green Reader

The Chelsea Green Reader

Chelsea Green, the Vermont-based independent publisher, has always had a nose for authors and subjects that are way ahead of the cultural curve, as is evident in this new anthology celebrating the company’s first thirty years in publishing.

The more than one hundred books represented in this collection reflect the many distinct areas in which we have published–from literature and memoirs to progressive politics, to highly practical books on green building, organic gardening and farming, food and health, and related subjects–all of which reflect our underlying philosophy: "The politics and practice of sustainable living." The Chelsea Green Reader offers a glimpse into our wide-ranging list of books and authors and to the important ideas that they express. Interesting and worth reading in their own right, the individual passages when taken as a whole trace the evolution of a highly successful small publisher–something that is almost an oxymoron in these days of corporate buyouts and multinational book groups.
From the beginning, Chelsea Green's books were nationally recognized, garnering positive reviews, accolades, and awards. We’ve published four New York Times bestsellers, and our books have set the standard for in-depth, how-to books that remain relevant years–often decades–beyond their original publication date.

"Chelsea Green was born from a single seed: the beauty of craft. Craft in writing and editing, in a story well told, or a thesis superbly expressed," writes cofounder and publisher emeritus Ian Baldwin in the book's foreword. Today, craft continues to inform all aspects of our work–design, illustration, production, sales, promotion, and beyond. It has even informed our business model: In 2012, Chelsea Green became an employee-owned company.

With the rise of the Internet, new media platforms, and a constantly shifting bookselling landscape, the future of publishing is anything but predictable. But if Chelsea Green's books prove anything, it is that, despite these challenges, there remains a hunger for new and important ideas and authors, and for the permanence and craftsmanship of the printed word. Today our ongoing mission is stronger than ever, as we launch into our next thirty years of publishing excellence.

Available in: Paperback

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The Chelsea Green Reader

Ben Watson, Ian Baldwin

Paperback $15.00

Power from the People

Power from the People

By Greg Pahl

Over 90 percent of US power generation comes from large, centralized, highly polluting, nonrenewable sources of energy. It is delivered through long, brittle transmission lines, and then is squandered through inefficiency and waste. But it doesn't have to be that way. Communities can indeed produce their own local, renewable energy.

Power from the People explores how homeowners, co-ops, nonprofit institutions, governments, and businesses are putting power in the hands of local communities through distributed energy programs and energy-efficiency measures.

Using examples from around the nation - and occasionally from around the world - Greg Pahl explains how to plan, organize, finance, and launch community-scale energy projects that harvest energy from sun, wind, water, and earth. He also explains why community power is a necessary step on the path to energy security and community resilience - particularly as we face peak oil, cope with climate change, and address the need to transition to a more sustainable future.

This book - the second in the Chelsea Green Publishing Company and Post Carbon Institute's Community Resilience Series - also profiles numerous communitywide initiatives that can be replicated elsewhere.

Available in: Paperback

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Power from the People

Greg Pahl, Van Jones

Paperback $19.95

The Hand-Sculpted House

The Hand-Sculpted House

By Ianto Evans and Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley

Are you ready for the Cob Cottage? This is a building method so old and so simple that it has been all but forgotten in the rush to synthetics. A cob cottage,cobb, however, might be the ultimate expression of ecological design, a structure so attuned to its surroundings that its creators refer to it as "an ecstatic house."

The authors build a house the way others create a natural garden. They use the oldest, most available materials imaginable--earth, clay, sand, straw, and water--and blend them to redefine the future (and past) of building. Cob (the word comes from an Old English root, meaning "lump") is a mixture of non-toxic, recyclable, and often free materials. Building with cob requires no forms, no cement, and no machinery of any kind. Builders actually sculpt their structures by hand.

Building with earth is nothing new to America; the oldest structures on the continent were built with adobe bricks. Adobe, however, has been geographically limited to the Southwest. The limits of cob are defined only by the builder's imagination.
Cob offers answers regarding our role in Nature, family and society, about why we feel the ways that we do, about what's missing in our lives. Cob comes as a revelation, a key to a saner world.

Cob has been a traditional building process for millennia in Europe, even in rainy and windy climates like the British Isles, where many cob buildings still serve as family homes after hundreds of years. The technique is newly arrived to the Americas, and, as with so many social trends, the early adopters are in the Pacific Northwest.

Cob houses (or cottages, since they are always efficiently small by American construction standards) are not only compatible with their surroundings, they ARE their surroundings, literally rising up from the earth. They are full of light, energy-efficient, and cozy, with curved walls and built-in, whimsical touches. They are delightful. They are ecstatic.

Available in: Paperback

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The Hand-Sculpted House

Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith, Linda Smiley, Deanne Bednar

Paperback $35.00