The concept of sustainable development, and associated practices such as sustainable construction, lend themselves to investigation via the sketchbook. It is possible to use freehand drawing to explore aspects of modern green design, be it the use of solar energy, wind power or natural ventilation. Conversely, most of the buildings constructed before the Industrial Revolution utilised local renewable energy sources, building materials were from the immediate locality, transport and farming practices relied on human and horse power, and cities were located where natural resources demanded. There was little or no importation of energy, food, water or materials, and since there was scarcity all round, there was a great deal of reuse and recycling. In this there are lessons for the future, which can be recorded and understood through freehand drawing. So sketching can help reveal best green practice, whether old buildings or more recent examples are employed.