This is my no B.S. guide to green books you should read (if you haven’t already done so).  Go to your bookstore/library of choice and there’s no doubt that the bookshelf is getting cluttered with authorship on a range of green topics.  Some of them are no more than a simple intro with a directory of products — the books are well and fine, but they become obsolete quickly in this crazy market.  So, here’s my list of 5 books you should read, especially during the holiday season if you have some downtime.  In choosing these books, I’ve decided to err on the side of edification rather than entertainment.  You’ll find legitimate analysis and thought in all five.  Enjoy:

Cradletocradle_2 In Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough and Michael Braungart present a manifesto calling for a new industrial revolution, one that would render both traditional manufacturing and traditional environmentalism obsolete.  Recycling, for instance, is actually "downcycling," creating hybrids of biological and technical "nutrients" which are then unrecoverable and unusable.  The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature.  They offer several compelling examples of corporations that are not just doing less harm — they’re actually doing some good for the environment and their neighborhoods, and making more money in the process.  Cradle to Cradle is a refreshing change from the intractable environmental conflicts that dominate headlines.  It’s a handbook for 21st-century innovation and should be required reading for business hotshots and environmental activists.

Greenbuildingrevolution The “green building revolution’’ is happening right now.  This book is its chronicle and its manifesto.  Written by industry insider Jerry Yudelson, The Green Building Revolution introduces readers to the basics of green building and to the projects and people that are advancing this movement.  With interviews and case studies, it does more than simply report on the revolution; it shows readers why and how to start thinking about designing, building, and operating high performance, environmentally aware (LEED-certified) buildings on conventional budgets.  The Green Building Revolution describes the many “revolutions” that are taking place today: in commercial buildings, schools, universities, public buildings, health care institutions, housing, property management, and neighborhood design.  In a clear, highly readable style, Yudelson outlines the broader “journey to sustainability” influenced by the green building revolution and provides a solid business case for accelerating this trend.

Greentogold Daniel Esty and Andrew S. Winston, two experts from Yale tackle the business wake-up-call du jour — environmental responsibility — from every angle in this thorough, earnest guidebook:  pragmatically, passionately, financially and historically.  Though "no company the authors know of is on a truly long-term sustainable course," Esty and Winston label the forward-thinking, green-friendly (or at least green-acquainted) companies WaveMakers and set out to assess honestly their path toward environmental responsibility, and its impact on a company’s bottom line, customers, suppliers and reputation.  Following the evolution of business attitudes toward environmental concerns, Esty and Winston offer a series of fascinating plays by corporations such as WalMart, GE,and Chiquita (Banana), the bad guys who made good, and the good guys-watchdogs and industry associations, mostly-working behind the scenes.  A vast number of topics huddle beneath the umbrella of threats to the earth, and many get a thorough analysis here:  from global warming to electronic waste "take-back" legislation to subsidizing sustainable seafood.  For the responsible business leader, this volume provides plenty of (organic) food for thought.

Cleantechrevolution Alternative energy, once the domain of hippies and off-the-grid fringe enthusiasts, has gone mainstream.  Although technologies such as solar and wind power, plant-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, and "green" buildings have become hip because of environmental awareness and global climate change, the real reason behind their increasing profile is economics.  When clean energy sources begin to rival more traditional ones on a cost basis, which is beginning to happen now owing to advances related to the microchip and economies of scale, corporations will quickly begin to take notice.  Although Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder state that they are not financial advisors, they profile the leading companies involved in the most promising of these alternative energies, which gives the reader a place to begin doing further research into investment opportunities.  The book is an excellent update on the current state of the industry and a who’s who of the companies poised to profit from this exciting array of technologies.  Pernick and Wilder are involved with Clean Edge, a leading research firm helping companies and investors understand and profit from clean technologies.

Ecologyofcommerce Paul Hawken, the entrepreneur behind the Smith & Hawken gardening supplies empire, is no ordinary capitalist.  Drawing as much on Baba Ram Dass and Vaclav Havel as he does on Peter Drucker and WalMart for his case studies, Hawken is on a one-man crusade to reform our economic system by demanding that First World businesses reduce their consumption of energy and resources by 80 percent in the next 50 years.  As if that weren’t enough, Hawken argues that business goals should be redefined to embrace such fuzzy categories as whether the work is aesthetically pleasing and the employees are having fun; this applies to corporate giants and mom-and-pop operations alike.  He proposes a culture of business in which the real world, the natural world, is allowed to flourish as well, and in which the planet’s needs are addressed.  Wall Street may not be ready for Hawken’s provocative brand of environmental awareness, but this fine book is full of captivating ideas.

**The book summaries above are taken from Amazon for convenience in seeing what each book is about.