Book Reviews (Building Performance and Beyond)


This section offers a range of reviews of books that are worthwhile further reading for those interested in the various aspects of building performance analysis. It covers both the building sector as well as adjacent fields. For those who wish to see further independed reviews and possibly purchase some of these works, the cover images are linked through to the website of





de Wilde, P., 2018. Building Performance Analysis. Wiley, ISBN 9781119341925


Obviously this website is intricately linked to this book, and we will refrain from offering a self review. However readers are reminded that this work refers to many of the other books discussed here, and explores how the content of these other works fit with the building domain. 









Kingsnorth, P., 2017. Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist. Faber & Faber, ISBN 9780571396942


This is very deep and thought-provoking read. It hits home and explains some of the unease I personally have felt over the years when talking about sustainability, environmental building, Eco-homes and the like. A key issue of this book is that it voices concern about 'environmentalism' which is focussed on maintaining human development at all cost, and sees the key challenge as 'managing climate change in such a way as that humans remain comfortable' while ignoring mass extinction, destruction of resources like rainforest, pollution of the environment, etc. The uncomfortable point raised is that humans are part of the environment, not separate. This is not an easy book to read, and does not offer easy solutions. But it should send  us all thinking about what we are doing, and whether curbing carbon emissions really is the only thing we need to worry about. Highly recommended.


(Review added 19/01/2019; updated 19/02/2019




Clarke, J., 2001. Energy Simulation in Building Design. Butterworth-Heinemann, ISBN 0-7506-5082-6


This is a classic book by Joe Clarke, one of the well-known proponents of building performance simulation. It gives an excellent insight in the underlying physics and mathematics that drive building simulation. Starting from a classic view of the main energy flow path in a building this book explores topics such as response functions, system discretisation, establishing and solving matrix equations, and how to incorporate fluid flow (ventilation).  Further chapters deal with the specifics of simulating building services (HVAC systems), renewable energy systems, as well as a wider vision on the use of simulation within the context of building design. Given the track record of Joe Clarke, it will not come as a surprise that the material is closely linked to the ESP-r simulation tool as developed by the Energy System Research Unit (ESRU) at the University of Strathclyde. This book is very useful for students who want to get deeper insights into the underlying equations and computational processes in simulation, and need to develop an understanding of what goes on 'under the hood' within simulation software.


(Review added on 23/02/2019)





Hensen, J. and R. Lamberts (Eds), 2011. Building Performance Simulation for Design and Operation. Routledge, ISBN 9780415474146.


The 'Orange Book' is the first book to be endorsed by IBPSA. It provides an excellent overview of the knowledge base that underpins building performance simulation. This is an edited book, and the various chapters are provided by the leading experts in each field within the IBPSA community. There is a laudable attempt to spread out beyond thermal aspects and thus the book includes chapters on performance aspects such as lighting, acoustics and moisture. Furthermore, there are chapters on some of the 'hot' topics in simulation, such as the role of people/occupants or the weather data that drives much of the simulation work. The chapter by Godfried Augenbroe on 'The role of simulation in performance based building' is a key reference for those with a deep interest in building performance. A second edition of this book is presently being prepated.













Piled Higher and Deeper Comics Series by Jorge Cham


PhD-comics is a classic series that should be mandatory for anyone working at a university; it is like Dilbert for the typical office worker. Some of the comics address the basic issues like researchers living on too much coffee and from instant noodles, but there also are comics that really bring home some of the peculiarities of academia; personally I have a special fondness for the 'thesis repulsor field', the 'profzi scheme', and 'relaxing the boundary conditions'. There also are two movies made ont he basis of the comics. On a personal note, PhD comics get extra brownie points for stemming from a GeorgiaTech graduate. I am pretty sure that being able to laugh about the academic environment helps us to cope with strains and stress, and thereby increases our scholarly performance. 


(Review added on 23/02/2019)








Gilb, T., 2005. Competitive Engineering. Butterworth-Heinemann, ISBN 0750665076


This book is probably one of the most profound works on the performance of systems in general, and how to design for, test and measure system performance. The concept of system performance itself is discussed in depth in chapter 4. However, this is not an easy book to read - the writing style is quite tense, in a pseudo-computer language; this may make it hard to read for some. It is also worth to keep in mind that the work is written by a consultant who has made his career by working on single, bespoke projects. 








Borrmann, A., M. König, C. Koch and J. Beetz (eds), 2018. Building Information Modeling. Springer, ISBN 9783319928616


Translated from an earlier edition in German from 2015, this book gives an excellent overview of the many facets of building information modelling. It provides technological foundations, a discussion of interoperability in the building and wider civil engineering sector, explores BIM-based collaboration in industry, reviews a range of actual BIM use cases, and includes a discussion of industrial practice. The author team are leading academics from Germany who know their stuff through deep involvement with projects in industry.




Blanchard, B. and W. Fabrycky, 1998. Systems Engineering and Analysis. Prenctice Hall, ISBN 9780131350472


This is a seminal book on systems engineering. While the text has been around for a while, it remains actual and a source of deep knowledge on the subject matter. The book consists of a number of parts; part I covers introduction to systems and relevant definitions, part II deals with the various phases of the system design process, part III with system design and evaluation, part IV with operational feasibility of systems (covering reliability, maintainability, usability, serviceability, producibility, disposability and affordability) and part V systems engineering management. Whereas other books on systems engineering sometimes are rather voluminous and hard to access, this book is very well written and accessible for those new to the subject.





Simon, H., 1996. The Sciences of the Artificial. MIT Press, ISBN 9780262691718


This is a seminal work on man-made systems and how to design them. Written by a Nobel Prize winner, this books helps to understand the difference between artificial and natural systems, and how rational decision-making helps creating the man-made systems. Simon is also known for his theory on bounded rationality, which takes into account that there is no perfect and complete information when making design decisions, and for coining the term 'satisficing' for a process that leads to an alternative that is good enough rather than most optimail one; both also feature in the book.







Kolarevic, B. and A. Malkawi (Eds),  2005. Performative Architecture - Beyond Instrumentality. Spon Press, ISBN 0415700833.


This is a fascinating book that compares and confronts different views on building performance, from the highly architectural and invidualistic to the technological decision-making perspective. The book contains chapters from many leading thinkers on both sides of the argument, as well as a panel discussion between these different protagonists. Manadatory reading for everyone who wants to reach beyond brute-force optimization as the solution to all building performance problems and challenges.








Anderson, K., 2014. Design Energy Simulation for Architects. Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-84066-8


This is a highly visual book which is excellent when trying to convey to the power of simulations to students in architecture and construction. Using images taken from the use of simulation on real projects, the book presents examples of climate analysis,energy modelling, airflow analysis, (day)lighting and glare evaluation, thermal bridge assessment, and many other things simulation can help with. Perfect for students who want to venture into building performance simulation, or for teaching classes on the subject.


(Review added on 19/01/2019)





Pohl, K. and C. Rupp, 2015. Requirements Engineering Fundamentals. RockyNook, ISBN 9781937538774.


As the title says, this is a book about requirement engineering. It is not specifically aimed at buildings, but some of the ideas like boilerplates (templates) to structure the definition of system requirements are extremely helpful. The book is well-written and could help to fundamentally rethink the building briefing or architectural planning process.


(Review added on 25/01/2019)




Zeigler, B., H. Praehofer and T. Kim, 2000. Theory of Modeling and Simulation. Academic Press, ISBN 978-0-12-778455-7


This is a leading book on the fundamentals of modeling and simulation. For my class on advanced building performance simulation, I do like the first chapters - they give an excellent introduction to the different views of the systems that can be modelled, and how that leads to different modelling formalisms. This connects well with books that specialize in building modeling and simulation and go straight in, missing this crucial starting point. 


(Review added on 01/02/2019)




Incropera, F., D. DeWitt, T. Bergmans and A. Lavine, 2007. Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer. Wiley, ISBN 978-0-471-45728-2


Building performance literature tends to focus strongly on energy performance, in terms of energy efficiency and thermal comfort. While there are several texts that deal with thermal building performance, some of us will need to go deeper. The book by Incropera and DeWitt is the seminal source for those who need to dig deeper in the physics. It is the go-to source if you need to know more about conduction, convection and radiation, whether in one, two or three dimensions and whether stationary or transient. It also gives deeper backgrounds on boiling and condensation, heat exchangers and diffusion. 


(Review added on 01/03/2019)





McMullan, R., 2012. Environmental Science in Building. Palgrave, ISBSN-978-0-230-5236-8


This is the standard book I have used in many years of teaching building science (building physics) to undergraduate students. It covers the key areas of thermal building behaviour, artificial and natural lighting, sound in terms of both noise and acoustics, electricity, water supply, and waste water in good detail. Over the years there have been various editions that group topics slightly differently but the underlying work is solid, with good worked examples and useful exercises. The book also is a good thing to have in your personal library if ever you need a refresher on any of these subjects.


(Review added on 01/03/2018)





Weinberg, G., 2001. Weinberg on Writing: the Fieldstone method. Dorset House Publishing, ISBN-978-932633-65-1


This book might seem a strange addition to a list of books on building performance. However, Gerald Weinberg is bit of a hero to me, who has contributed some really deep work on systems thinking. In this book, he applies some of that to his process of writing books. While everyone will have his own writing process, Weinberg's ideas helped me significantly in writing Building Performance Analysis. If you plan on tackling a new, challenging topic and wonder how to approach such a project, this book might be a good source of inspiration. It may also help students piecing together their dissertation.


(Review added on 27/02/2019)





de Wilde, P., 2004. Computational Support for the Selection of Energy Saving Building Components. Delft University Press, ISBN-90-407-2476-8


At the bottom of the list of book reviews, this is my PhD-thesis from TU Delft. In the Netherlands PhD-theses are typically published as a book, including ISBN number. It is nice to see that this is actually available for those who take an interest.


(Review added on 01/03/2019)



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