News Brief

The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design

by Sandra F. Mendler, AIA and William Odell, AIA. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2000. Hardcover, 400 pages, $69.95

When we reviewed HOK’s Sustainable Design Guide in 1998 (EBN Vol. 7, No. 5), our only complaint was that it lacked a pretty cover. Now that it has been updated, expanded, and published by a mainstream publisher, The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design is attractive as well as useful. Mendler, who until recently was director of the firm’s Sustainable Design Group, coordinated much of HOK’s research on green practices and contributed to the design of many green buildings. Odell, group vice-president in HOK’s St. Louis office, has also led a number of green projects and is very knowledgeable about energy issues. Together, they’ve created a superb text to guide the design of green commercial buildings.

The HOK Guidebook is divided roughly equally between listings of green building strategies and case studies of HOK projects. The lists are organized under six major topic headings, and then, under each of these, by design phase. Each list appears first as a concise checklist and is then repeated, accompanied by specific project actions that are tagged to specific professions within a design team. Many of the project actions are also marked with a letter code if they are likely to affect project schedule, construction cost, energy cost, design fees, or maintenance costs. Interspersed throughout the lists are useful sidebars with explanations and other guidance. For example, there is a useful collection of benchmark data for buildings in a section of the General topic under “Gathering Information.” (Note, however, that the chart of energy consumption benchmarks is labeled as Btus per square foot, while the numbers are in thousand Btus per square foot.)

The case studies include in-depth presentations of 16 HOK projects and short overviews of a few more. The discussions  include valuable information on the process behind the creation of each of these facilities and explanations of the green features. Specific energy use and other performance data are included for some of the projects—it would have been great if environmental performance information were reported for each building in a consistent format.

In addition to the checklists and case studies, The HOK Guidebook includes some great introductory materials on goals, economics, and process. Under economics, for example, the authors note that much can be achieved within the constraints of a tight first-cost budget, but if it is possible to include life-cycle costing in the decision process, even more is possible. At the end of the book are two selective lists of information resources and a detailed glossary. As a general reference for ideas and insights, or a specific guide to consult during the design process, this book has a great deal to offer. No serious designer of commercial buildings should be without it.



Published September 1, 2000

Malin, N. (2000, September 1). The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design. Retrieved from

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