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


Climate Change

Climate Change

By Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert

You know that the ice caps are melting, the seasons are changing, sea levels are rising, storms are on the increase, but what can you do about it? Plenty!

This book puts the power back into your hands in the face of the doom and gloom of climate change. You don’t have to wait for someone else to sort it out; rather than worry and feel helpless, you can get up and do something.

Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference is packed with ideas for action, from simple everyday things that cost nothing to bigger projects that involve more time and money. For example:

Get on your bike • Buy local food • Turn off your TV • Insulate your attic • Recycle and compost • Take the train • Turn down the heat • Install solar panels

Do your part and protect the planet for today and tomorrow.

Available in: Paperback

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Climate Change

Amanda Cuthbert, Jon Clift

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The Cob Builders Handbook

The Cob Builders Handbook

By Becky Bee

Cob (an old English word for lump) is old-fashioned concrete, made out of a mixture of clay, sand, and straw. Becky Bee's manual is a friendly guide to making your own earth structure, with chapters on design, foundations, floors, windows and doors, finishes, and of course, making glorious cob.

"I believe that building with cob is a way to recreate community and experience the joy of working together while taking back the right to build our own homes and look after our Mother Earth."

She loves doing something that makes sense in a world where lots of things don't.

Available in: Paperback

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Compact Living

Compact Living

By Michael Guerra

Compact Living opens our eyes to the possibilities of living a compact and low-impact urban life.

It is about learning how to live happily with less clutter and embrace the joys in life. Most of our society is struggling to pay the bills while chasing the ideal of a "bigger" lifestyle. Compact Living is the perfect antidote to this, teaching us how to make the most of what we already have through assessing and designing our spaces to suit our needs, as well as future proofing for change.

This is a book of design solutions for small spaces, ideally suited to compact urban dwellings, with each chapter providing useful, basic tools for organizing an entire house and garden no matter what kind of space we live in.

In an insecure economy, smaller mortgages and less social mobility will be a reality, especially in premium areas of the cities. Compact Living is the perfect practical guide for people interested in the Voluntary Simplicity, Tiny Homes, and Downsizing movements, and anyone who wants to rationalize the space in which they live in an ergonomic and aesthetic way.

A powerful perspective to anyone who wishes to live with less debt and more freedom!


Available in: Paperback

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Compact Living

Michael Guerra

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The Straw Bale House

The Straw Bale House

By Athena Swentzell Steen and Bill Steen and David Bainbridge

Imagine building a house with superior seismic stability, fire resistance, and thermal insulation, using an annually renewable resource, for half the cost of a comparable conventional home. Welcome to the straw bale house! Whether you build an entire house or something more modest-a home office or studio, a retreat cabin or guest cottage-plastered straw bale construction is an exceptionally durable and inexpensive option. What's more, it's fun, because the technique is easy to learn and easy to do yourself. And the resulting living spaces are unusually quiet and comfortable.The Straw Bale Housedescribes the many benefits of building with straw bales:

  • super insulation, with R-values as high as R-50
  • good indoor air quality and noise reduction
  • a speedy construction process
  • construction costs as low as $10-per-square-foot
  • use of natural and abundant renewable resources
  • a better solution than burning agricultural waste straw, which creates tons of air pollutants

Available in: Paperback

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The Straw Bale House

Athena Swentzell Steen, Bill Steen, David Bainbridge

Paperback $34.95