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Resource Library: Building Science

Here are some of our favorite resources on building science and building performance analysis.

While developing the learning content on the Sustainability Workshop website and for the Autodesk BPA Certificate Program, we often referenced some great books and websites on building science. We’ve compiled a single list of some of our favorite resources so that others can more quickly find this wealth of information.

NOTE: As we’ve developed our educational programs, we’ve seen our efforts as synergistic and we don’t want to compete with these resources. We’re striving to connect Autodesk users to this important information so that they can use our analysis tools more effectively. We’ve also linked to many of these resources throughout the pages of the site.
Thanks to everyone who worked to create the wonderful resources below! 



Groups/ Organization


Textbooks & Publications

(Organized Alphabetically by title)

Building Science for Building Enclosures

This book may not have flashy images or color but it’s an invaluable resource for building science fundamentals. It’s straight, to the point, and lets you know exactly what is going on in your building and the physics behind it. It includes great reference tables and figures in addition to nearly every equation you could ever need for building science.  
From the publisher: This text is intended for the building professions: the engineer, architect or technical specialist involved in the design, construction, operation, maintenance, repair, and renovation of buildings. The focus is on the building enclosure, i.e., walls, windows, roofs, below-grade construction, and the relevant building science. The control of heat, air, and moisture is emphasized because of their critical importance.

Designing Zero Carbon Buildings Using Dynamic Simulation Methods

This book is a one of the best resources we’ve found for tying software simulation to building science fundamentals. It dives into the specifics of how to both understand and simulate building performance. The information is presented in a straightforward, accessible, and visual way.
From the publisher: This book develops a structured method for zero carbon design and demonstrates that it is perfectly possible to design new or retrofit zero carbon buildings today, using existing technologies. Dynamic simulation is an essential ingredient of this method and a pre-requisite for the level of analysis and optimisation that is needed in order to achieve zero carbon design. The second essential ingredient is the economic analysis, and the book demonstrates how zero carbon designs can be optimised to result in lucrative rates of return on investment. The third essential ingredient is the achievement of thermal comfort.

Green Studio Handbook

This book offers a terrific introduction to sustainable strategies that should be incorporate into the design process at a conceptually high level. Concepts are fundamentally supported by rich case studies, crisp illustrations, and clear hierarchy and legibility of information.
From the publisher: Learn how to integrate green strategies into your building design. This practical handbook provides an essential introduction to green design strategies--helping you to understand how to save energy, water, and material resources. It provides the information required to make judgments about which strategy to use and includes tools to enable you to incorporate the chosen strategy during the early stages of design.

The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design

This book has a lot of great case study examples. If you’ve taken the BPA Certificate, you may even find some of them familiar! The book starts out by mapping sustainable building design processes to USGBC LEED, then focuses on examples of sustainable design in buildings. If you’re looking for good examples of how passive design strategies come together in whole building performance this book is the place to look.
From the publisher: This comprehensive, updated edition of the definitive reference on sustainable design includes extensive new design process information, updated case studies, and post- occupancy evaluations organized to support use of the USGBC's LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.

Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings, 11th Edition

At nearly 2,000 pages, this book is the biggest gun in our artillery. It is truly the definitive reference book for architects and engineers looking for in-depth, technical information on all matters relating to mechanical and electrical systems in buildings, and beyond.  We especially like MEEB for its exhaustive descriptions of every subject it touches, which goes beyond mechanical systems to include topics of climate, comfort, site and much, much more.
From the publisher: For more than half a century, this book has been a fixture in architecture and construction firms the world over. Twice awarded the AIA's Citation for Excellence in International Architecture Book Publishing, Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings is recognized for its comprehensiveness, clarity of presentation, and timely coverage of new design trends and technologies. Addressing mechanical and electrical systems for buildings of all sizes, it provides design guidelines and detailed design procedures for each topic covered.

The Passive Solar Energy Book

You many need to dust this one off, but it’s a classic. Published in 1979, this book is considered by many THE resource for passive solar design. This book addresses common problems designers encounter when designing with the sun and provides recommendations on how to remedy the issue. The book also features a plethora of temperature and solar reference tables for cities in the US and Canada.
From the publisher: This book contains all of the information necessary to successfully design an effective passive solar heated building. It is a primer in the fundamental concepts of solar energy, heat theory and thermal comfort. It is a source book, with descriptions, photographs, illustrations and performance data of many passive solar heated buildings. It is a workbook, containing a step-by-step process for designing and sizing passive solar heating systems; methods for calculating building heat loss, heat gain, system performance and cost effectiveness; and sun charts and graphic tools for designing shading devices, determining the extent of solar obstructions and calculating solar radiation values.

Sun, Wind & Light

Beautifully hand illustrated guide to designing with optimal utilization of natural on-site resources. This book includes highly useful guidelines, rules of thumb and easy-to-use reference tables to help designers make important design decisions pertaining to sun, wind and light.
From the publisher: How to design buildings that heat with the sun, cool with the wind, light with the sky, and move into the future using on-site renewable resources. Developed for rapid use during schematic design, this book clarifies relationships between form and energy and gives designers tools for designing sustainably.

High-Performance Building 

Another great book of case studies, this book does a great job of really explaining the design decisions that were made from start to finish—it even calls out those decisions that did not go so well and explains why. One of the most valuable aspects of the book is how each case study is phrased within the climate data of the site, stressing the importance of understanding your building’s climate. 
From the publisher: High-Performance Building gives architects a practical guide to excellent, sustainable design, showing how to analyze and evaluate the buildings "as built." Taking a hands-on view of sustainability, the author provides designers with specific benchmarks for high performance and energy efficiency.

Web Resources

(Organized Alphabetically by title)

The 2030 Palette

The 2030 Palette is an interactive web platform containing a set of principles and actions for the planning and design of sustainable and resilient buildings and communities worldwide.
From the website: Since planning and designing the built environment is primarily a visual activity, the 2030 Palette is structured as a visual network of interrelated elements called Swatches. Swatches present highly complex and multi-dimensional information in a readily accessible format organized by category – Region, City/Town, District, Site and Building. Each Swatch contains a written recommendation, rule-of-thumb, images and graphics representing the physical application of the recommendation, as well as more detailed information for its successful application.

Palette 2030 has some great rules of thumb on:

Palette 2030 - Case studies

2030 Palette: recommendations for designing a building form to promote cooling here.

See some specific examples from 2030 Palette:

Environmental Design in University Curricula and Architectural Training in Europe (EDUCATE)

An encyclopedia of building science concepts, the EDUCATE portal is a terrific resource that catalogues a vast range of topics with great depth and clarity.
From the website: The EDUCATE project was built on a consortium of seven leading European universities and received the support of both international building professionals and associations of educators and practitioners in six European countries. The mission of EDUCATE was to foster knowledge and skills in sustainable environmental design, aiming to achieve comfort, delight, well-being and energy efficiency in new and existing buildings. This was to be promoted and demonstrated within a culturally, economically and socially viable design process, at all stages of architectural and professional education. 

The Environmental Handbook

A great introduction to primary environmental concerns surrounding building design. This guide was produced by highly regarded architecture firms and is accompanied by great illustrations and an intuitive user interface.
From the website: The Environmental Handbook (web) is an online primer which covers the pragmatics of environmental design. It is based on a number of papers which summarise FCBS’ ‘received wisdome’ learnt over the last 25 years. Each section is intended to provide a basic introduction to key principles, as well as a gateway to more detailed information.

Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG)

From the website: Conceived in 1997 by the NAVFAC Criteria Office in collaboration with the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, the WBDG was created to assist the design community with integrating government criteria, non-government standards, vendor data, and expert knowledge into a 'whole building' perspective. This 'whole building' concept is an integrated design approach that employs a collaborative team process to achieve high-performance buildings. Since its inception, the WBDG has grown from a handful of pages to a site with thousands of pages visited by over 250,000 users per month.

Other Useful Links :

Learn more about high performance building materials

More detailed instruction on using mass models in Revit

Start to learn about passive design strategies (we’ll cover these more in the following courses)

Flow Design is intended to analyze external airflow only, but if you are interested in measuring and analyzing internal airflow, you could look into Simulation CFD. It’s a great computational fluid dynamic software tool that can help you validate and test internal airflow strategies.

Groups & Organizations

The Society of Building Science Educators (SBSE) is an association of university educators and practitioners in architecture and related disciplines who support excellence in the teaching of environmental science and building technologies. SBSE's goal of promoting and supporting quality instruction in building science is realized through a broad range of practical activities.
SBSE provides numerous and varied opportunities for member participation in the organization, resulting in increased membership benefits for all. SBSE serves five key purposes:
Act as a support group for individual members 
Represent the subject areas of environmental science and building technologies to outside interests 
Offer a network for exchange of pertinent information through written, visual, and interpersonal means 
Promote research, creative activity, pedagogical excellence, and scholarship among the membership
Support the institutional needs of technical education within professional curricula in architecture
The International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA) is an organization focused on advancing and promoting the science of building performance simulation. IBPSA’s underlying goal is to improve the design, construction, and maintenance of new and existing buildings worldwide. More specifically, IBPSA’s goals include:
Identify problems within the built environment that may be solved by improved simulation tools and techniques;
Identify the performance characteristics of buildings on which simulation should be focused;
Identify building performance simulation research and development needs and transfer new developments to the user;
Promote standardization of the building simulation industry; and
Inform and educate its members and the public regarding the value and the state-of-the-art of building performance simulation.
Look up your local chapter if you are interested in joining. Depending on the activity of the chapter, there are a variety of meetings, presentations of work, and learning workshops.