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.


November 10, 2015

Bill Maclay at 2015 DESIGNrealized Continuing Education Program

DESIGNrealized Webinar | Bill Maclay
Bill Maclay will present a webinar as part of the 2015 DESIGNrealized Continuing Education Program. This webinar will focus on why and how net zero is the least cost option for green and sustainable builders. Bill's webinar will take place on Tuesday, November 10 at 3:00 PM (EST)

See all Events by this Author


Bill Maclay Speaking at Yestermorrow Event 02-22-11

Bill Maclay Speaking at Yestermorrow Event 02-22-11


Reinventing Fire

Reinventing Fire

By Amory Lovins

Oil and coal have built our civilization, created our wealth, and enriched the lives of billions. Yet, their rising costs to our security, economy, health, and environment now outweigh their benefits. Moreover, that long-awaited energy tipping point—where alternatives work better than oil and coal and compete purely on cost—is no longer decades in the future. It is here and now. And it is the fulcrum of economic transformation.

A global clean-energy race has emerged with astounding speed. The ability to operate without fossil fuels will define winners and losers in business—and among nations.

In Reinventing Fire, Amory Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute offer a new vision to revitalize business models, end-run Washington gridlock, and win the clean-energy race—not forced by public policy but led by business for enduring profit. This groundbreaking roadmap reveals market-based solutions across the transportation, building, industry, and electricity sectors. It highlights pathways and competitive strategies for a 158%-bigger 2050 U.S. economy that needs no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas, and no new inventions.

This transition would cost $5 trillion less than business-as-usual—without counting fossil fuels’ huge hidden costs. It requires no new federal taxes, subsidies, mandates, or laws. The policy innovations needed to unlock and speed it need no Act of Congress.

Whether you care most about profits and jobs, national security, health, or environmental stewardship, Reinventing Fire charts a pragmatic course that makes sense and makes money. With clarity and mastery, Lovins and RMI point out the astounding opportunities for enterprise to create the new energy era.

Drawing praise President Bill Clinton, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, and a host of others, Reinventing Fire has piqued the interest of world leaders, business leaders, and political strategists.

The paperback will carry a new preface detailing the response from China and beyond.

Available in: Paperback

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Reinventing Fire

Amory Lovins, Marvin Odum, John W. Rowe

Paperback $29.95

The Carbon-Free Home

The Carbon-Free Home

By Stephen & Rebekah Hren

You probably know that energy used in your home produces more global-warming pollution than your car, but what can you do to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels? Maybe you daydream of starting from scratch, building a new, super-efficient, passive-solar, off-grid house—but in reality you’ve got a roof (and a mortgage) over your head already. How can you turn your existing house into an environmental asset? One that simultaneously saves you money on utilities and insulates you from the possible shocks of Peak Oil?

Read this book—then grab your handsaw, tape measure, and drill, and get started! A life powered by the sun is waiting for you. Meant as a guide for renovating existing homes, The Carbon-Free Home gives you the hands-on knowledge necessary to kick the fossil-fuel habit, with projects small and large listed by skill, time, cost, and energy saved. For every aspect of your life currently powered by fossil fuels, The Carbon-Free Home offers alternatives you can accomplish yourself to get started using renewable and sustainable sources of power.

Having weaned themselves completely from fossil fuels in their conventional 1930s urban house, Rebekah and Stephen Hren provide a map for others to do the same. Their book shows first how to reduce energy consumption, then to retrofit existing homes to obtain all heating, cooling, cooking, refrigeration, hot water, and electricity from renewable sources. The Hrens also provide advice on renewable methods of transportation and home gardening. These practical approaches fit anyone’s budget and can be implemented over time to progressively liberate a home from fossil-fuel dependency.

Available in: eBook

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The Carbon-Free Home

Stephen & Rebekah Hren

eBook $35.00

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

Build Your Own Earth Oven

Build Your Own Earth Oven

By Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field

Earth ovens combine the utility of a wood-fired, retained-heat oven with the ease and timeless beauty of earthen construction. Building one will appeal to bakers, builders, and beginners of all kinds, from:

    •    the serious or aspiring baker who wants the best low-cost
bread oven, to
    •    gardeners who want a centerpiece for a beautiful
outdoor kitchen, to
    •    outdoor chefs, to
    •    creative people interested in low-cost materials and
simple technology, to
    •    teachers who want a multi-faceted, experiential project for students of all ages (the book has been successful  with
 everyone from third-graders to adults).

Build Your Own Earth Oven is fully illustrated with step-by-step directions, including how to tend the fire, and how to make perfect sourdough hearth loaves in the artisan tradition. The average do-it-yourselfer with a few tools and a scrap pile can build an oven for free, or close to it. Otherwise, $30 should cover all your materials--less than the price of a fancy "baking stone." Good building soil is often right in your back yard, under your feet. Build the simplest oven in a day! With a bit more time and imagination, you can make a permanent foundation and a fire-breathing dragon-oven or any other shape you can dream up.

Earth ovens are familiar to many that have seen a southwestern "horno" or a European "bee-hive" oven. The idea, pioneered by Egyptian bakers in the second millennium BCE, is simplicity itself: fill the oven with wood, light a fire, and let it burn down to ashes. The dense, 3- to 12-inch-thick earthen walls hold and store the heat of the fire, the baker sweeps the floor clean, and the hot oven walls radiate steady, intense heat for hours.

Home bakers who can't afford a fancy, steam-injected bread oven will be delighted to find that a simple earth oven can produce loaves to equal the fanciest "artisan" bakery. It also makes delicious roast meats, cakes, pies, pizzas, and other creations. Pizza cooks to perfection in three minutes or less. Vegetables, herbs, and potatoes drizzled with olive oil roast up in minutes for a simple, elegant, and delicious meal. Efficient cooks will find the residual heat useful for slow-baked dishes, and even for drying surplus produce, or incubating homemade yogurt.

Available in: Paperback

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Build Your Own Earth Oven

Alan Scott, Kiko Denzer, Hannah Field

Paperback $17.95