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Featured Speakers

Keynote Speaker John Straube, Ph.D., P.Eng.

John Straube is a specialist building science engineer who has been deeply involved in the areas of building enclosure design, moisture physics, and whole building performance as a consultant, researcher, and educator.

Energy-efficient, healthy, durable and sustainable building designs are a general goal of his research which is often supported by advanced computer simulation, laboratory testing and full-scale natural exposure performance monitoring.

Considered an international expert in moisture-related building problems, his building science expertise has been applied to moldy roofs, failed masonry, leaky EIFS cladding, insulating Mongolian yurts, wet basements, rotting crawlspaces and attics, historically sensitive retrofits, and litigation support for buildings as diverse as commercial office towers, manufactured housing, and sustainable strawbale homes.

Although John has been tossing strawbales around since he was a boy, he has been interested in straw buildings for more than 15 years, conducting field measurements and computer models, as well as assisted in the design of SB buildings. Building science applies to all buildings, but it is especially important in natural materials and its application to straw results in slightly different results than the normal bricks and sticks construction.

John recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Building Science Education from the Consortium of Housing Research Centers.






Featured Speaker Bernard Amadei

Dr. Amadei is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his PhD in 1982 from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Amadei is the Director of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities at CU Boulder and holds the Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering. He is also the Founding President of Engineers Without Borders - USA and the co-founder of the Engineers Without Borders-International network. Among other distinctions, Dr. Amadei is a 2007 co-recipient of the Heinz Award for the Environment, the recipient of the 2008 ENR Award of Excellence, and an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Bernard's Presentation

Prof. Amadei’s current interests cover the topics of sustainability and international development. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, Prof. Amadei directs the Mortenson Center in in Engineering for Developing Communities (www.edc-cu.org). Its overall mission is to educate globally responsible engineering students and professionals who can offer sustainable and appropriate solutions to the endemic problems faced by developing communities worldwide.

Want some inspiration to sign up for the conference immediately? Watch Bernard Amadei's TED talk:



Featured Speaker David Eisenberg ~

"Building Resilience for our Collective Future ~ from the Personal to the Global"

David Eisenberg co-founded and has led the non-profit Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT) in Tucson, Arizona for 20 years. His building experience ranges from troubleshooting construction of the spaceframe and glazing systems enclosing Biosphere2, to building a $2 million structural concrete house, a hypoallergenic structural steel house, and masonry, wood, adobe, rammed earth, and straw bale structures. Since 1995 David has led the effort to create a sustainable context for building regulation. A former two-term member of the U.S. Green Building Council Board of Directors, he founded and chaired the USGBC Code Committee for ten years. He served on the International Code Council committee creating the first draft of the ICC 's International Green Construction Code (IGCC). Current work includes national efforts supporting the development of tribal green building codes, and consulting with local governments to upgrade their building codes and policies. David has presented workshops, seminars, keynote addresses and lectures at dozens of conferences and universities in the U.S. and abroad, including more than twenty natural building colloquia, and six international straw bale construction conferences. He was principal investigator and author for the 2009 report, "Code, Regulatory and Systemic Barriers Affecting Living Building Projects" for the Cascadia Green Building Council. He has written for Building Safety Journal (magazine of the International Code Council), co-authored The Straw Bale House book, and has written dozens of published articles, forewords, book chapters and papers. David and DCAT received the 2007 International Code Council Affiliate of the Year Award and a 2007 USGBC Leadership Award.

David Eisenberg
David Eisenberg

David's PDF presentation

Hunter Lovins
Hunter Lovins

Hunter's presentation

Special Guest ~ Hunter Lovins

L. Hunter Lovins is President and founder of the Natural Capitalism Solutions (NCS). NCS educates senior decision-makers in business, government and civil society to restore and enhance the natural and human capital while increasing prosperity and quality of life. In partnership with leading thinkers and Implementers, NCS creates innovative, practical tools and strategies to enable companies, communities, and countries to become more sustainable.

Trained as a sociologist and lawyer (JD), Hunter is also currently faculty at Bainbridge Graduate Institute and the chief insurgent of the madrone project.

Lovins has consulted for scores of industries and governments worldwide. She has consulted with large and small companies including the International Finance Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell, Interface, Clif Bar, and Wal-Mart. Governmental clients include the Pentagon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and other agencies, numerous cities, and the governments of Jamaica, Australia, and the U.S. She has also served an advisor to the Energy Minister of the Government of Afghanistan.

Recipient of such honors as the Right Livelihood Award, Lindbergh Award and Leadership in Business, she was named Time Magazine 2000 Hero of the Planet and in 2009 Newsweek dubbed her a “Green Business Icon.” She has co-authored nine books and hundreds of papers, including the 1999 book, Natural Capitalism, 2006 e-book Climate Protection Manual for Cities, and the 2009 Transforming Industry in Asia. She has served on the boards of governments, non- and for profit companies

Session Speakers and Workshop Facilitators

Click on the speakers' names to read about their talk, workshop or panel discussion. Some speakers have been selected to present on more than one topic. Click on additional titles for presentation info.

Frank Tettemer - Building For a Cold Climate ~ Homes & Construction Details

Frank Tettemer has for the past 40 years developed creative solutions to shelter challenges. His knowledge is based on his extensive work and study in house design and building, fine woodworking, fireplace and stone masonry. His greatest delight is working with owner/builders, assisting them in realizing their dreams. He designs half dozen homes each Winter for homebuilders all over Ontario. His construction crew, Living Sol ~ Building & Design, (http://www.livingsol.com), is a unique crew of building artists, who work in Ontario, near Algonquin Park. The crew excels in enthusiasm and personal commitment, and bring joyful energy to every off-grid home that they create.


Frank Tettemer
Frank Tettemer

Richard Presley
Richard Presley

Richard Presley -- An Introduction to Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB)

Richard Presley formerly conducted research and managed projects in the fields of groundwater treatment and water quality analysis. He is now a Sr. Associate with the Auroville Earth Institute, Auroville, India, and is additionally promoting earth based sustainable CSEB construction in Mexico. Since 1989 the Auroville Earth Institute has been researching, developing, promoting and transferring earth-based technologies, which are cost and energy effective. These technologies are disseminated through training courses, seminars, workshops, manuals and documents. The Institute is also offering various services, provides consultancy worldwide, develops and produces CSEB production machinery and equipment.

Richard's Presentation on Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks

Richard's Presentation Part II

David Arkin -- Bringing Bale Building further into the Mainstream

David Arkin, AIA, LEED AP, has taught and lectured on the subject of ecological design for over twelve years. He is a board member of the Solar Living Institute (SLI) and a founding member of the California Straw Building Association (CASBA). He is past-president of Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR). A licensed architect (CA #22459, 1991; NV #5030, 2004), he spent four years as project architect and planner with Van der Ryn Architects—most notably on the Real Goods Solar Living Center—and apprenticed with Obie Bowman at Sea Ranch. David and his wife and partner Anni Tilt live with their two children in a 100 year old solar and wind-powered home in Albany, California.

David's Presentation


David Arkin
David Arkin

Michel Couvreaux
Michel Couvreaux

Michel Couvreux ~ Lime and Straw: A Symbiotic Relationship

Michel Couvreux, President TransMineral USA, Inc. forsook his original career as an architect to import St. Astier Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL) products to the U.S. about 14 years ago. Thanks to his stewardship and diligence, Michel is credited with having revived the use of natural hyrdraulic lime in the United States and having single-handedly rendered the name "St. Astier Natural Hydraulic Lime" a household term, synonymous today as the top "green" and authentic exterior and interior finish product for new-build and restoration/preservation construction projects throughout the United States. Forging his earlier, lengthy career as an architect at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Bordeaux, France, and the Ecole d’Architecture de Bordeaux, Michel earned his Master Degree of Architecture, establishing his own architecture firm in France, followed by design work in South America, and with NASA. Michel is an active member of the California Preservation Foundation, the Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI), ASTM, ADPSR, Build it Green, USGBC Redwood Empire, and the California Strawbuilding Association (CASBA).


Doug Beall -- A Simplified Approach to Creating Basic Shelter

Doug Beall is an artist, architect, inventor, carpenter, builder and the owner of ECOS Designs, Inc. After first studying ecology, he earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Idaho and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Doug is a supporter and promoter of indigenous, ecological and responsible design. He designed and built a native Earthlodge inspired home that he and his family have lived in for 15 years. Doug recently began designing and building innovative small straw bale structures. Doug is a LEED Accredited Professional and member of the American Institute of Architects, the US Green Building Council, the Colorado Straw Bale Association, and Bioneers. He can be reached at dbeall@ecosdesigns.com



Doug Beall
Doug Beall

Patrick Padden
Patrick Padden

Patrick Padden ~ An Introduction to Permaculture, Patterns in Nature, and the Future of Integrative Education

Patrick Padden, a graduate of Colorado State University, studied natural systems building design in Namibia and urban food forest implementation in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2007. In 2008, Patrick obtained his permaculture teacher’s certificate from Sandy Cruz and Becky Elder of the Permaculture Institute. Patrick received his design certificate from the International Permaculture Design Course in Harare, Zimbabwe, and attended the International Permaculture Convergence in Malawi in 2009. After four seasons of producing naturally grown food for 80+ people at Sunrise Ranch, Patrick is now co-manager of the garden and a practicing permaculturalist and permaculture educator. Currently he is pursuing a masters degree in integrative eco-social design with Gaia University.

Tom Rijven ~ The CUT Technique

Tom Rijven is a self-taught natural builder. In French, he describes himself as SDF, or Sans Domicile Fixte, which means he has no home but lives on the road. He invented the French Dip, so named by his colleagues in San Francisco, U.S.A. Also the father of the CUT system (cell under tension) where by cutting the strings of the bale we create not only a load-bearing, but also a sheared wall. Rijven is the author of "Between Earth and Straw" (2007) describing the simplicity of straw and the beauty of earth: a five-star marriage. In 1984, he was a volunteer on the experimental building and permaculture center of Mother Earth News" in North Carolina. He has been working with straw and clay since 1994 and has been involved in more than 140 buildings in 15 countries including the Hall of Reconciliation in Ganmain, Australia, an auditorium for the Bank of Agriculture in Amsterdam, a theater made of beer cases and straw under a concrete roundabout in Slovakia, to a hut for a primary school in Payzac, France.


Tom Rijven
Tom Rijven

Bruce King
Bruce King

Bruce King ~ Closing Circle, an open forum discussion of where Natural Building is Today

Bruce King has been a structural engineer for 35 years and has designed buildings somewhere in the world with every mainstream and alternative material he knows of. He's interested in getting the most effective building up with the least expenditure of carbon/energy.

Also ~ Natural Building Structures: an Introduction to Faith-Based Engineering

Andrew Phillips ~ Clay-based Plasters -- Appropriate & Viable Technology in Today’s Green & Natural Buildings

Andrew Phillips of Natural Dwelling LLC has been contracting & building since 1999 in the green and deep green (natural) building trades, and consulted nationally & internationally. His experience shows that deep green building systems and materials offer sustainable, commercially viable, and healthier solutions for today’s market. His understanding of conventional building science and systems, coupled with a systems-based approach to green building, has allowed him to offer innovative, yet deep green, solutions to most aspects of a project.
As the National Building Applications Consultant for American Casein Company, the largest casein manufacturer in the western hemisphere, he has been able to offer solutions to dozens of companies, organizations, agencies, and industries.

Andrew Phillips
Andrew Phillips

David Belsey
David Belsey

David Belsey ~ Straw bale Construction and Concerns Based Adoption Model

David Belsey is a Masters of Education student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Ontario, Canada. He is an early adopter of straw bale construction and is passionately attempting to promote the adoption of straw bale construction on a large scale. As both an academic and builder of sustainable structures he is attempting to provide a foundation of knowledge for individuals to address their concerns. His efforts are founded in one belief, to provide a better future for current and future generations.

David's Presentation

Emily Niehaus ~ Community Rebuilds - Shifting the Paradigm

Emily S. Niehaus is the Founder and Executive Director of Community Rebuilds, a nonprofit whose mission is to build energy-efficient housing, provide education on sustainability, and improve the housing conditions of the workforce through an affordable program. Emily holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Sociology and has worked as a social worker, a loan officer, and a bookkeeper. Emily is building a better world for the next generation. She furthers her passion of building affordable and energy-efficient housing through savvy networking, successful fundraising, and fostering emerging professionals. She lives with her husband and son in Moab, Utah.

Also: "Unlikely Partnerships"

Emely Niehaus
Emily Niehaus

Ingrid Cyrns
Ingrid Cyrns

Ingrid Cyrns ~ Increasing Resilience with Home Energetic Balancing

Author, straw bale Architect, Co-Founder of the UGDC (Uxbridge Dowsing & Geomancy Connections) and Vice-President of the OSBBC (Ontario Straw Bale Building Coaltion), Ingrid Cryns, BES, B Arch, OAA, CBT, of soma earth ARCHITECT, is also a Certified Bioenergetic Therapist (CBT) and highly sensitive, intuitive empath who can read and sense body, building & earth energies. Ingrid brings versatility and a wide range of experience to her work as an Eco-Architect. She has over 17 years of practice running & managing a variety of complex projects from small houses, renovations, additions and multi-residential housing to large (up to $12ML) community centres, museums, performing arts centres and commercial projects.

Ingrid's presentation on Home Energetic Balancing


Jonathan Smolens ~ Ecovillages as the beginning of the Ecozoic Era

Jonathan Smolens P.E. Jonathan was a residential Licensed Contractor for 16 years in the states of Colorado and California. He enjoyed working with natural building materials and techniques. He graduated from CU with a degree in Civil Engineering and is now a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Iowa. As a Structural Engineer, he works in the areas of residential, industrial & commercial design & remodeling. Jonathan specializes in Green Building projects, which include: straw-bale design and construction, adobe, Structural Insulated Panels, Rastra and high efficiency wood and steel construction. He is committed to renewable energy philosophies in buildings and applies his experience to Photovoltaic and Solar-thermal systems and the evaluation and engineering of new projects and retrofits. He excels at providing direct and cost effective solutions to a variety of situations. Jonathan also loves to bring his creativity to unique and challenging projects.

Jonathan Smolens
Jonathan Smolens

Melinda Zytaruk

Melinda Zytaruk ~ "Bales On Top: Natural & Energy Efficiency Urban Reno" and "Co-ops and Straw Bale building, a Natural Connection"

Melinda Zytaruk is a founding worker-owner of the Fourth Pig Worker Co-operative, a not for profit worker owned co-operative whose mission is to foster ecologically balanced methods of construction and energy production in order to promote more sustainable and healthy communities, located in Ontario, Canada. Melinda is the General Manager and project manager for the Fourth Pig. Melinda holds a BAh from Queen’s University and a masters in Environmental Studies from York University focusing on community renewable energy and sustainability. She is on the board of Passive Buildings Canada, the Solar and Sustainable Society of Canada and the Lake of Bays Renewable Energy Co-op.

Kyle Holzhueter with Emily Reynolds ~ Japanese Earth Plastering Basics

Kyle Holzhueter works as builder, researcher and educator specializing in straw bale construction and earthen plasters. He has a PhD in Bioresource Sciences from Nihon University where he researched the hygrothermal environment of straw bale walls in Japan and building practices to control interstitial moisture. As a builder, he has advised or participated in the construction of over 30 earthen plastered straw bale buildings in Japan, North America and Europe, and has personally lead the construction of 9 earthen plastered straw bale buildings or interiors in Japan. Apart from research, he studies traditional Japanese earthen plastering under Takao Kobayashi of Goshusakan Tsuchibune Plaster Works.

Emily Reynolds apprenticed in Kyoto with Asahara Yuzo of Shikkui
Asahara. His crew works solely with natural materials, using the
unique tools developed through the centuries for such work. Upon
returning to the United States, she wrote the book “Japan’s Clay
Walls: A glimpse into their Tradition of Plastering” -- a simple and
detailed look at the tools and methods she witnessed for building the
traditional Japanese wall from base to center coat. While continuing
her work with plasters she also indulges her other passion -
homesteading. She will be co-facilitating with Kyle the workshop "Japanese Earth Plastering Basics."

Also "Building Practices to Protect Straw Bale Walls from Moisture Damage" Click HERE for Kyle's slideshow

Kyle's slide presentation on Japanese Earth Plastering Basics


Kyle Holzheuter
Kyle Holzhueter

Min Hall
Min Hall

Min Hall ~ Straw Bale in the Land of the Long White Cloud

Min Hall is a Registered Architect and has lived and worked in New Zealand’s South Island for three decades. Her work has regularly appeared in national magazines and has received a number of awards, including the only one given for a straw bale building by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. She was the NZIA representative on the 1998 Earth Building Standards committee. Currently she has taken time out from practice and moved to the North Island to study, carrying out research into the performance and potential of natural building methods using the earth and straw bale houses of the Nelson Tasman region as a case study. She also teaches part time at Unitec School of Architecture in Auckland.

Find Min's slide presentation here

Surkhab Khan and Darcey Donovan ~ SB Construction in Pakistan and Seismic Research Project Results

Surkhab Khan is a founder and the COO of PAKSBAB, responsible for overseeing operations, training, financial reporting, and soliciting projects. Surkhab earned a Bachelor of Law from Justice Law College ATD, an M.A. in political science from the University of Peshawar, a Bachelor of Education from Allama Iqbal Open University, and a Masters in Development Studies from COMSATS Institute of Information Technology. He previously worked for 4 years as an advocate and founded two English medium schools in his village of Kakul. Following the 2005 earthquake Surkhab worked in disaster relief for the organization BEST/UNHCR as a social mobilizer, and subsequently for Dosti Welfare Organization as Assistant Program Officer, where he supported the first straw bale construction projects in Pakistan.

Surkhab Khan


Darcey Donovan
Darcey Donovan

Surkhab Khan and Darcey Donovan ~ Fabricating Bales and Foundation Construction

Darcey Donovan is a founder and the CTO of PAKSBAB, responsible for organizational oversight, strategic planning, design and engineering, grant and proposal writing, and presentations, and was the principal investigator for PAKSBAB’s seismic research project. She has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno, and is a licensed professional civil engineer in California and Nevada. Her structural engineering practice, EcoEngineering, specializes in residential design with an emphasis on straw bale and natural building, passive solar, and green building materials and methods. Previously she worked for 8 years as a Product Design and Development Engineer for Raychem Corporation, followed by 18 years in residential design, engineering, and construction.

Also: "PAKSBAB Workshop: Bale Raising, Details and Plaster"

Darcey's slide presentation

George Nez and Doug Eichelberger ~ Walls compressed plastic with thin-shell cement roofs.

Douglas Eichelberger - Rancher and licensed Architect, experience in alternative building projects, specializing in sustainable processes. Innovations began 20 years ago with paper bale walls in a large frameless barn using compressed plastic bale foundations - standing perfectly today. Then bale homes in the mountains.

George Nez - former planning teacher, director in Denver, renewal planner of S. Bronx and St. Paul, and economist Economic Development Administration and National Park Service. Field planner in UN and USAID earthquake recovery and resettlement projects. Innovated "roofs-first" for emergencies where settlers could readily build their walls.

George Nez and Douglass Eichenberger

Mark Schueneman

Mark Schueneman ~ Challenges of Outreach and Straw Bale

Mark poured concrete for 37 years before becoming inspired by photovoltaics and building with straw. He missed a meeting with COSBA and was annointed Director from 2004-7. He completed his straw and earth plaster home in 2008 and has focused on working on outreach projects within the US and Mexico as a 'so called' straw and earth plaster expert. Whatever?!!

Laura Seraydarian ~ Straw Bale Construction in Nepal: Lessons and Future Plans

Laura Seraydarian is an associate at ISET-I and has been working on disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and water resource issues in Asia, Latin America, Caribbean and the U.S. for the last 12 years. Formally educated in geology, environmental studies and sociology, Ms. Seraydarian brings a diverse perspective to challenges in human-environmental coupled systems. She spent 5 years as a hydrogeologist working on soil and water contamination in the Southeast, Northeast and Western U.S. For the last 6 years she has been working abroad on urban and rural water systems/markets, resilience to climate change and reducing the risk of earthquakes from the community, hydrological and governance perspectives.



Laura Seraydarian

Will Johnson
William Johnson

Will Johnson (with Andy deGruchy) ~ Natural Hydraulic Lime in Straw Bale Construction, One Builder's Japanese Influence

William Johnson is a self-taught builder learning from the books and buildings he encounters. Originally from Georgia, Will first gained experience building timber frame homes. He continued exploring different mediums including insulated concrete blocks and insulated concrete forms. Over a period of 20 years, Will’s building designs drew heavily on Japanese and European timber frame influences. He made his way to New York City and settled in the beautiful Hudson Valley just north of Manhattan.

Exposure to the WPA projects of New York City, the great mansions of the Hudson River and Long Island, the Dutch homes, the Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian Development and the mountain homes of the Catskills and the Adirondacks has been like a privilege of traveling through a living museum.

Will has gained notoriety in a number of publications for his unique approach to straw bale design and use of truly sustainable construction practices.

Andy deGruchy ~ Natural Hydraulic Lime in Straw Bale Construction, One Builder's Japanese Influence (with Will Johnson)

Andy deGruchy is a 1982 graduate of The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades located in Media, Pennsylvania. He received The “Key Award” for the advancement of Williamson Trade School’s founding ideals and he received their diploma as a Brickmason. He has owned and operated deGruchy Masonry Restoration for 28 years, which has been the focus of his craft company, which restores vintage brick and stone buildings. In 1999 Andy began importing certain types of limes for use in appropriately mirroring some of the successful components of masonry structures, which have lasted for centuries throughout the world. The word got out that Andy had such limes and he began the company LimeWorks.us in 2000 to distribute the materials which he imports for many applications including straw bale construction. Andy is on the ASTM committee that helped define the terminology used for the United States Standards for hydraulic and structural limes including the modified limes, which can be produced in any country of origin.

Andy deGruchy
Andy deGruchy
Andre de Bouter
André de Bouter

André de Bouter ~ The French SB Building Reference Document

French Straw Building Network - Réseau Français de la Construction en Paille (RCFP–Les Compaillons) This association unites the different actors of SB building in France : professional builders, architectes, teachers, owners, owner-builders and non-for-profit organisations. The goal is to stimulate the developpement of SB building, both for professionals as for non professionals. Founded in 2005 it has about 300 members. Represented by : André de Bouter. Dutch, living in France since 2000 and active in SB since 1998. Teacher of SB workshops, writer and publisher of french SB books he was one of the founding members of the French SB Network and has been member of its board.

André's slide presentation

PennElys Droz ~ NativeEarth Sustainable Housing Initiative

PennElys Droz (Anishinaabe) is the mother of three sons and the director of a Native-led and staffed nonprofit organization, the Sustainable Nations Development Project. She founded Sustainable Nations in 2004 at the Indigenous Environmental Network Conference and, since then, has collaboratively hosted trainings for Native people in renewable energy, natural building, and natural wastewater treatment. Her vision is the re-development of thriving, ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable Native Nations. She also is a former lecturer for the Native American Studies department at Humboldt State University, focusing on environmental and social justice, and a current doctoral student, writing on Indigenous Ecological Engineering at the University of Arizona.


PennElys Droz
PennElys Droz

Bohdan Dorniak
Bohdan Dorniak

Bohdan Dorniak ~ What's happening in Australasia

Bohdan Dorniak is an registered architect in South Australia.He has been involved with strawbale design for over 12 years and has designed over 100 strawbale projects. He is the current Treasurer of AUSBALE, has been Secretary,President and augural member of AUSBALE.

Brian Fuentes ~ Passive House and Straw Bale

Brian Fuentes, AIA, is a licensed architect and Certified Passive House Consultant in Colorado who worked on the first straw bale house in Eugene, Oregon in 1998 as a student volunteer. His architectural firm, fuentesdesign, has completed straw bale homes across Colorado for the past 10 years and is currently building one for himself and his wife in Boulder. Projects by fuentesdesign have been featured on the Denver or Boulder Solar Home Tours in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The work of fuentesdesign has also been featured in Architect Magazine, Architectural Record Magazine, 5280 Magazine, the Denver Post, the Colorado Sustainable Design Awards and the book PreFabulous and Sustainable.

Brian Fuentes

Catherine Wanek
Catherine Wanek

Catherine Wanek ~ The Hybrid House - Top 10 Energy Saving Building Strategies

Catherine Wanek is the author and photographer of "The Hybrid House," "The New Strawbale Home" and co-editor/author of "The Art of Natural Building." Also a filmmaker, she produced "The Straw Bale Solution," "Urban Permaculture," and the "Building with Straw" video series. For five years Catherine published and edited "The Last Straw, the International Journal of Straw Bale and Natural Building." She has also contributed articles and images to Su Casa magazine, Communities, Permaculture Activist, and Mother Earth News. In 2008, as co-director of Builders Without Borders, she orchestrated the construction of a strawbale “eco-house” on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

Also: Straw Bale Construction Design Essentials

and The Builders without Borders Strawbale Eco-House

Dodson Harper ~ Structural Design of Natural Homes

Dodson Harper leads the Structural Engineering Department at Resource Engineering Group. As a Senior Project Engineer, his responsibilities include structural design, design review, forensic analysis, and construction assistance. His project experience includes residential, commercial, and institutional spaces for both new construction and remodels. In addition to designing with conventional steel, wood, and concrete systems, Dodson vast experience with alternative building systems including straw bale and clay-straw techniques. His extensive contracting and framing experience is invaluable when construction problems need to be solved. Dodson also manages staffing, project control (schedule and budget), risk management, hardware/software acquisition and maintenance, and in-house training for REG.

Dodson's slide presentation

Dodson Harper
Dodson Harper

Maya Aviña
Maya Aviña

Maya Aviña ~ Colorado Bale Cob

Born and raised in Southern California, educated in the Northwest, Maya Avina has lived in Colorado, now for the third time, for about 25 years. Professor at CSU-Pueblo teaching painting, graphic design and a little natural building.

Maya is constructing a natural building in Colorado by
hand, including excavation, using local materials as much as possible.
Starting with a rubble trench foundation, the primary materials are
stone, cob and timber harvested in fire mitigation. Balecob walls will
apply a new innovation in the natural building world incorporating
straw bales and cob in the same wall.


Mark Jensen ~ Teaching Green Construction on Tribal Lands

Mark Jensen, Red Feather Development Groups’ Construction Program Director since June 2005, oversees every aspect of the design-build process of constructing straw bale homes for tribal members on their reservations. Mark’s work entails the supervision, training and mentoring of many skilled and unskilled volunteers alongside tribal members through every phase of home construction. Mark has built long lasting relationships with the elected officials and agencies on and off of the Reservations. To this date Mark has managed the completion of fifteen straw bale homes, numerous home renovations, solar, and weatherization initiatives with Red Feather. Mark is part of the Red Feather senior leadership team and assists in the development of strategic goals, and planning their realization. Mark sits on the Board of Directors – USGBC Montana Chapter and is a member of the Green Native Council.

Mark's slide presentation

Mark Jensen
Mark Jensen
Derek Roff
Derek Roff

Derek Roff ~ Earthen Floors, with a little Lime, Oil and Insoluble Soap

Enamored of both traditional adobe buildings of New Mexico and innovative solar designs, I was excited to discover the possibility of natural insulation in the strawbale building revival in the early 90s. Since that time, I have striven to learn as much as possible about how to build healthful, appropriate, beautiful, energy-conserving natural buildings, and to help spread information on these techniques. I worked as an associate editor for The Last Straw Journal, helped with organizing six of the Build Here Now natural building/permaculture convergences at Lama Foundation, and served Builders Without Borders on their steering committee, as Director, and Co-Director. ’ve been privileged to learn from, befriend, and work with many of the most innovative natural builders.

Sukita Reay Crimmel and Tracy Thieriot ~ Women Contracting Natural Building

Tracy Thieriot runs her construction company Tactile Plastering and her pigment company Ochers and Oxides in Northern California. Sukita Reay Crimmel runs her construction company From These Hands and her earthen floor product company Claylin in Portland Oregon. Tracy and Sukita have been close colleagues for years and have recently created a business relationship around Ochers and Oxides providing pigments for Claylin floors.

Also Modern Earthen Floors , Find her slide presentation HERE.

and Portland, Oregon U.S.A.'s Alternative Technological Advisory Committee Find the slide presentation HERE.

Sukita Reay Crimmel
Sukita Reay Crimmel
Chris Magwood
Chris Magwood

Chris Magwood ~ Prefabricated Straw Bale Panels -- the State of the Art

Chris Magwood is obsessed with making the best, most energy efficient, beautiful and inspiring buildings without wrecking the whole darn planet in the attempt. He is currently the executive director of The Endeavour Centre, a not-for-profit sustainable building school in Peterborough, Ontario.

Also: "A Straw Bale Apprenticeship System" PDF slide presentation HERE

and: "Straw Bale and Certification Programs" PDF slide presentation HERE

Find Chris' slide presentation on Prefabricated Straw Bale Panels HERE

Bill Lucas-Brown ~ Safe Straw = Healthy Home?

GB3 Energy Solutions co-founder Bill Lucas-Brown is an experienced green builder and licensed general contractor. He is a Home Energy Rater, a LEED Accredited Professional, and a certified BPI Building Analyst, Shell and Envelope Specialist, and Heating Professional. Originally lured into green building by straw bale homes in the early 1990s, Bill has managed and/or built a number of progressive homes, including two featured on the cover of the Boulder Green Building Journal and one on the front page of Conservation Magazine. Since co-founding GB3 in 2008 , GB3 has audited and retrofit thousands of homes throughout Colorado. In addition, Bill enjoys speaking about home performance throughout the state.

Bill Lucas-Brown
Bill Lucas-Brown
Andy Thompson
Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson ~ Five years research experience of pre-fabricated straw bale construction

Andrew Thomson joined the University of Bath's Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering in February 2012, having previously practised as a structural engineer. He gained his PhD from the University of Bath in 2010. Andrew’s research interests are in furthering the use of low environmental impact construction materials.

August Hasz ~ Zero Net Energy- How Do I Get There?

August Hasz P.E., Resource Engineering Group August is Principal Engineer in charge of structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing system design and building commissioning for new and existing buildings. He leads energy auditing, energy modeling, and solar energy analysis for REG. His projects combine resource-efficient structural framing, passive heating and cooling strategies, building shell improvements, active solar thermal and solar electric systems, geo-exchange systems and radiant cooling. Mr. Hasz received a BS in Glass Engineering Science from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, with honors. He is a LEED AP and licensed Professional Engineer in CO, WY, MA, NJ and NY.

Also "Super-Efficient Mechanical Systems for Natural Buildings" Find August's PDF slide presentation HERE

August's slide presentation on Zero Net Energy

August Hasz
August Hasz

Hana Bottger
Hana Bottger

Hana Bottger ~ Fabric Reinforcement for Toughness of Adobe Wall Systems

Hana Mori Böttger is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Community Design at University of San Francisco. She has a M.S. in Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials and a M.Arch. from University of California, Berkeley. Her research includes seismic improvements for adobe masonry systems.

Also; "Properties of Clay-Straw Block" Find slide presentation HERE

Hana's slide presentation on Fabric Reinforcement for Adobe Wall Systems HERE

Sarah Seitz ~ "Lean, Green & Within Our Means"

Sarah Seitz has been a devotee of natural building materials since she lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico (U.S.) a decade ago. Her training in carpentry and conventional construction has proven helpful in the design and repair of unconventional buildings. A graduate of Chris Magwood’s Sustainable Building Design & Construction Program, Sarah has worked on a wide range of natural and conventional building projects throughout Canada and the United States. Sarah is currently collaborating with engineering professors at Queen’s University and a consortium of student design studios in the creation of appropriate technologies and remanufacturing processes for materials in municipal waste streams.

Also: and "Testing & Natural Materials – Explorations at Queen’s University & Beyond – with Graham Tattersall"

Sarah Seitz
Jacob Racusin
Jacob Racusin

Jacob Deva Racusin ~ High-Performance Natural Building for a Changing World

Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton co-own New Frameworks Natural Building, LLC, a company offering services in green remodeling, new construction, consultation, and education featuring natural building technologies. Instructors at educational organizations including Yestermorrow Design/Build School, Jacob and Ace are involved with the Natural Building Certificate Program, which Jacob helped develop and has served as program director. They are also codevelopers and instructors of the graduate-level Professional Semester of Integrative Design and Construction at Yestermorrow. Jacob is a Certified Passive House Consultant and a member of Seven Generations Natural Builders, which offers training in natural building.

Herwig Van Soom ~ Straw Building in Belgium

Architect, started in 1980, ecological, first strawbale house in 2002 (known as floating roof), Van attended International 2006 Straw Bale Conference in Canada, almost 40 strawbale projects in housing and renovation.

Herwig Van Soom
Herwig Van Soom
Dawn Smith
Dawn Smith

Dawn Smith ~ Release of Strawbale section of the Alternative Solutions Resource (ASR)

Dawn Smith is the president and chair of ASRi, as well as co-founder and Key Accounts manager of Island Village Builders, a Victoria-based employee owned and operated construction company. She started ASRi in 2010 with local colleagues with a vision of working together to remove barriers preventing natural building from reaching capacity on Vancouver Island. She keeps working with ASRi because it's too much darn fun to consider doing anything else, and the meetings usually involve french pastries and a vision for a future worth living in. When not poring over a computer or hauling around a clipboard, she can often be found on a running trail near the ocean.

Tracy Thieriot ~ Plastering systems; It's in the Details

Tracy Vogel Thierot is an entrepreneur with two businesses, Ochres & Oxides and Tactile Plastering. She teaches in fields of plastering and sustainable housing construction using natural materials. O & O is a small wholesale business offering high quality pigments to retail outlets, contractors, universities and developes custom color lines for products. As a plasterer she is engaged in numerous projects; a LEED Platinum project using NHL; a private caldarium from Pompei; an earthen plastered ecological compound; and a residence using Japanese plasters, tadelakt and lime veneers. She is also an exhibiting artist utilizing these materials in her work.

Also: "Building with Color; Pigments - History and Use."

Tracu Thierot
Tim Owen-Kennedy

Tim Owen-Kennedy ~ Relationships: Why should I strive for clarity about the unmeasureble stuff.

Tim Owen-Kennedy is the owner of Vital Systems, a premier natural building and design company in the U.S. He has been involved in the design and construction of more than 80 green projects, including commercial and residential projects that strive to take care with the materials, the people, and the ecology.

Bob Theis
Bob Theis

Bob Theis ~ "Designing People Places"

Bob Theis wanted to be a planner until he found out that planners don't generally get to work on the details of how good places are created. While doing architecture, including some of the earliest straw bale buildings in California, he discovered that summer camps and retreat centers were as interested as he was in social fabric. He has since consulted with camps, conference centers, intentional communities and monasteries on their ecological footprint, and how they can function more like villages.

Also: "Designing Small"

Martin Hammer ~ Ti Kay Pay ~ The First Straw Bale Building in Haiti"

Martin Hammer is an architect in California and co-director of Builders Without Borders. Throughout his career Martin has emphasized sustainable building design, with particular focus on the design, testing, and construction of strawbale buildings. For 10 years he has spearheaded the development of strawbale construction in building codes, most recently with a proposed chapter for the International Building Code. In 2006-07 Martin helped introduce strawbale construction to earthquake-affected Pakistan with Pakistan Straw Bale and Appropriate Building. Since 2010 he has worked extensively in post-earthquake Haiti, including leading an American-Haitian Builders Without Borders team to build the first strawbale building in Haiti. Other sustainable (re)building solutions are being explored, and this Fall the BWB team will begin construction of its school design for the What If Foundation in Port-au-Prince.

Also: Haiti and Beyond ~ a Panel Discussion

and: "Strawbale Construction and the International Building Code"

Martin Hammer
Martin Hammer

Johnny Weiss
Johnny Weiss

Johnny Weiss ~ Implementing PV in the Developing World - Lessons Learned

Johnny Weiss is the Co-founder of Solar Energy International. SEI is a 20 year old educational non-profit with the mission to help others learn about the Renewable Energies of solar, wind, water power, and natural house building. Johnny is a solar educator, consultant, Industrial Trainer and solar building professional. He has over thirty years experience teaching the practical applications of the renewable energy technologies. As an Associate Professor for ten years, he helped develop and teach a hands-on vocational training program in solar thermal, photovoltaic, energy efficiency, and construction skills. Johnny has extensive practical experience as a natural house builder, general contractor, and he is knowledgeable in the environmental building technologies of earth and straw construction. Johnny regularly works with Native Americans training programs, works in international sustainable development programs, and helping transfer renewable energy technologies to the developing world. Johnny was the proud recipient of the ISP ’08 Mark C. Fitzgerald Memorial Award.

Michal Vital ~ "SB in Israel, from the desert to the Mediterranean Sea"

Michal Vital is a practicing architect and green building expert in the natural building movement of Israel. For more than a decade she has led dozens of projects in the non-profit and private sectors and works with the Ministry in Defense of the Enviroment. As a partner in the Vital-Rosenberg Architectural Firm, Michal designs buildings, writes and lectures to bring green initiatives to the public.

Also: "Computer simulations and thermal performance"

Michal Vital
Michal Vital


Bob Gough ~ "Tribal Sovereignty, Climate and the Built Environment"

Bob Gough - attorney/cultural ecologist; 30+ years on tribal cultural/natural resource issues; Intertribal COUP secretary; Native Peoples climate workshops co-chair; co-authored World Clean Energy Award tribal wind plan; SAFE Homes initiative; MIT Green Fellow; National Climate Assessment author. David Eisenberg – DCAT co-founder/director; 30-yrs building experience: Biosphere 2, natural building structures, sustainable building codes effort; 2-terms USGBC board; founder-chaired Building Codes Committee; 5-yr vice-chair ASTM E-06.71 Sustainability for Buildings subcommittee. David Edmunds - Environmental Director, Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN); Geography PhD: specializing in natural resources, cultural ecology, international development, tribal regulatory framework; 20-yrs community development/natural resource management. Kent Paul - 12-yrs CEO AMERIND Risk Management Corporation, serving 500+ federal reservations/Alaska Native Villages; 25-yrs executive management; former Native American Bank director.

Also "Bringing Culturally Appropriate Housing to Indian Country"

Find Bob's slide presentation HERE

Bob Gough
Caroline Meyer White

Caroline Meyer White ~ "Scaling Straw Construction"

1996 - 2000 Organic vegetable farmer, 2000 til present: Straw Home owner builder, teacher and designer. 2007 til present, architectural engineering study. Program director of Engineers Without Borders Denmark shelter and rehabilitation programmes in Pakistan.

Also: "Quantifying Environmental Incentives to Straw Build"

Liz Johndrow ~ Building for a Future in Nicaragua

Liz Johndrow is principal of Earthen Endeavors Natural Building and currently is lead instructor of a 4 month women's building apprenticeship in collaboration with WASI and KI. She will be returning to Nicaragua later this year to lead a 3 month WASI training, as well as working with a women's collective in Haiti. She loves this recent work and the ways in which it requires all of her to show up. The last several years she worked in various capacities on several strawbale projects and other natural building explorations. She could create a long list of work which she has delved into wholeheartedly, all involving expression through her hands and heart. She also raised a wonderful son who is her greatest teacher.

Liz Johndrow
Liz Johndrow
Dan Chiras
Dan Chiras

Dan Chiras ~ Is a Small Wind Energy System Right for You?

Dan Chiras is author of numerous books on natural building, green building, and residential renewable energy including The Natural House, Power from the Wind, Wind Energy Basics, and The Homeowner\'s Guide to Renewable Energy. Dan is currently director of The Evergreen Institute in east-central Missouri where he teaches classes on a variety of topics including small wind energy, solar electricity, straw bale building, and natural plasters.

Find Dan's presentation HERE

Scott Howard ~ Experimental Earthen House for Basic Needs

Scott Howard is an architectural artisan who teaches natural building workshops and builds around the world. He founded *Earthen Hand Natural Building* in 2002 to promote cutting edge building technologies through education. He is currently teaming up with associates to create *Ecotecture International*, to take on larger projects with intent to help people discover healthier and happier living. Please see earthenhand.com. His most notable achievements include: inspiring thousands of students; a 23 ft earthbag sound dome in Thailand (2004); a 17 ft earthbag dome in Dogon Country, Mali (2009); and a Passive Annual Heat Storage earthbag home in Washington state (2011).

Scott Howard
Scott Howard

Don Smith
Don Smith

Don Smith ~ The New Clay/Straw

Don Smith has worked in the green construction business in the Crested Butte area for nearly two decades, learning firsthand the latest, most trusted techniques for creating buildings that are not just durable and beautiful but that honor the principles of good land stewardship. He is an associate of the EcoNest company. Andy Sovick has been building with Don for seven years, he brings experience from the front-lines of clay/straw and fine timber frames. He records it all in stunning time lapse and photography.

Dirk Scharmer ~ Five Story Straw Bale Office Building

Dirk is a straw architect in Germany. He started as a carpenter after school, studied architecture until 1998. Further education: Design of Passivehouses/ healthy buildings. Right after a presentation of D. Eisenberg and H. Wedig, he came up with a first straw hut in 2000. Meanwhile he completed a dozen straw houses, thereunder some multi-family houses, one three- storey. He also conducted three straw building R&D projects since 2003 and several official approval of straw building. Currently he's part of the design team for a 5-story straw building. He's active in teaching and sharing. End of 2011 he stopped making building bales and released the management of FASBA after 10 years of voluntary work. What next?

Dirk Scharmer
Dirk Scharmer