Best Climate Nonfiction

Books by Bill Caplan

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With a passion for people-friendly building design, an engineer’s understanding of sustainability and a 34-year career in high-technology, Bill Caplan’s books address the built environment from a human and environmental perspective.

A sober look at our efforts to contain global warming and the public’s self-delusion with “green” and “sustainable” living inspired his writing “Thwart Climate Change Now”, published by the Environmental Law Institute (2021).

“Buildings Are for People”, a holistic approach to designing sustainable user- and community-friendly buildings published in 2016. “Contrast 21c: People & Places” followed in 2018, a photographic essay about people and places in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam highlighting disparities between rural and urban areas, struggles adapting to a 21st-century environment.

Caplan holds a Master of Architecture from the Pratt Institute Graduate School of Architecture and a Materials Engineering degree from Cornell University College of Engineering.

Books by Bill Caplan

Thwart Climate Change Now: Reducing Embodied Carbon Brick by Brick


Thwart Climate Change Now: Reducing Embodied Carbon Brick by Brick addresses an imperative—to slow the pace of climate change within the coming decade—before it’s too late. While climate policy typically focuses on future decarbonization 10 to 20 years out, temperatures continue to rise. Greenhouse gases emitted upfront from the materials fabrication, construction, and renovation of our physical environment—embodied emissions—accelerate the rate of global warming now. Sadly, they increase atmospheric carbon before our buildings and infrastructure are even used. Often ignored or deemed too perplexing to resolve, the need to reduce embodied emissions immediately is the subject of this book.

Written for a variety of readers—from policymakers and legislators to architects and developers—Thwart Climate Change Now addresses how to tackle the built environment’s “embodied” carbon emissions, highlighting specific design and policy issues that overlook their own contribution to atmospheric carbon. The book brings together the science of climate change, sustainable design, and green policies in a language accessible to a diverse readership, followed by case study examples to support design, policy and legislative recommendations to slow emissions growth in the near term.

Buildings Are for People: Human Ecological Design


Buildings are for People: Human Ecological Design offers a new approach to the process of conceiving architectural design, one that considers the interactions of the built environment with people and the natural environment.

The book exposes our visceral and experiential connections to buildings, and how buildings intervene directly with our ecosystem, natural environment and sense of place. It brings to light our ability to utilize a building’s surfaces, shape and materiality to synergize with the energy and forces of nature for a more green and sustainable architecture. It points out many of the roadblocks to successful design including issues in education, the profession, regulation and the industry’s institutions, providing an awareness that heretofore is rarely discussed.

Most importantly, Buildings are for People: Human Ecological Design highlights the obvious, that buildings are built for people, a fact that seems to have been overlooked in the last half-century.

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