Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Earthbag House Show

Here's a slideshow of some recent earthbag (sandbag) houses that have been built in Mexico, Poland, US, Nepal, Costa Rica, Philippines, Australia, Haiti, South Africa, Thailand, India, Bahamas and Brazil. These earthbag homes, made of poly or burlap grain bags filled with soil and tamped solid, are suitable for hot, cold, dry or wet climates, as shown by these examples. Click on the image to find out more. Thanks to for putting this slideshow together.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Two New Sustainable House Plan Websites

After years of work my house plans are finally getting online. There are 86 plans published so far and more in the works. I've tried to cover a wide variety of styles and applications, but all of them are small, affordable and sustainable. The selections include domes, roundhouses, square/rectangular, organic shaped, polygonal. There are also categories for free shelter designs, miscellaneous structures and homes over 1,000 sq. ft.

Here's my new strawbale house plans site: Straw Bale House Plans

Here's my new earthbag house plans site: Earthbag House Plans

I'm eager to hear from readers, so please leave your comments. Keep in mind these are just preliminary plans. I'll tweak them to meet your needs. Plans are available for sale at

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Articles by Owen Geiger

Affordable and Sustainable DIY Earthbag Homes

Do It Yourself Earthbag Building

Insulated Earthbag Houses

Build Your Own Affordable, Eco-Friendly House

Do-It-Yourself Earthbag Building: Yes You Can!

Why is there an Energy Crisis?

How to Build an Eco-Friendly Earthbag Roundhouse

Natural Building: How to Build an Affordable Eco-Friendly Home

Designing Your Affordable, Energy-Efficient, Eco-Friendly Home

How to Optimize Earthbag Building

Earthbag Buildings Can Look Any Way You Like

Earthbag Building in Cold Climates

Earthbag Building: 8 Simple Steps

Natural Building Tour of Eco-Friendly Affordable Homes

Why is there a Housing Crisis?

Why Build with Earthbags?

Natural Building: The Key to Affordable Housing

Earthbag Building Expands Worldwide

Earthbag Building: The Lowest Cost, Most Durable Building System?

10 Ways to Save Money Building a New House

How to Build an Earthbag Home

Dirt-Cheap Shelter: The Least Expensive Building Methods

The Beauty of Earthbag Homes

How to Build an Earthbag Home

How to Build an Insulated Earthbag Home

Dirt Cheap Natural Homes Tour

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Planning for Future Changes

It's been over three years since my last post. Yikes! Time really flies when you're having fun (and trying to do 20 other things at the same time).

While this blog has suffered from neglect, I've been busy developing two other sustainable building sites in collaboration with Kelly Hart of fame (the #1 ranked site for info on green homebuilding): This new site (we just had our one year anniversary) is now the largest, most comprehensive website about earthbag building. Features include the largest slide show of earthbag homes, a Projects page profiling dozens of the best structures (residential and commercial) and an extensive collection of documents on our Articles page. There's also a huge FAQs page that will answer most questions about building with bags -- all for free. Most readers don't realize how fast earthbag building is growing, so we're putting a lot of work into documenting everything that's happening in the movement. Our earthbag blog has quickly become the #1 blog on earthbag building. New posts are added every few days. This is where we put all the latest news, tips, building techniques, etc.

My latest plan is to re-energize the GRISB Sustainable Building blog. Afterall, it pops up #1 on Google and therefore draws a pretty good crowd. But working alone is ... well, lonely. I'm looking for like-minded folks to collaborate on making this a top quality site. I would like to cover all aspects of sustainable building, so it makes sense to have multiple posters. I'm just too busy to do it all, plus it's way more fun working with others. And just to be clear, my focus is on low-cost (especially 'dirt cheap') housing.

Interested? Email me a brief bio and summary of your thoughts to: strawhouses AT

Friday, November 11, 2005

Earthbag Foundations

Earthbag foundations offer many advantages over reinforced concrete foundations and work well with many types of sustainable buildings. In particular, they are low-cost, fast and easy to build, require no cement (a major cause of global warming), and require no forms or expensive equipment.

Earthbags are simply polypropylene sandbags (or rice bags) filled with soil, sand or aggregate obtained from or near the building site. Unlike adobe or rammed earth, which require a rather specific mix, almost any type of soil or aggregate will work (expansive clay soils are not recommended for foundations). Aggregates are preferred for foundations because they will readily drain away any moisture and prevent wicking into the wall system.

Designed to control flooding and resist explosives, earthbags are amazingly strong, durable and versatile as long as they are protected from direct sunlight. Keep earthbags tarped until they are plastered.

Some typical uses include:
1. earthbags on a rubble trench foundation in mild climates (to raise wall system above grade)
2. aggregate-filled earthbags starting below grade and extending well above grade in flood-prone areas (reduces risk of the structure being undermined – example: a rubble trench could get scoured away and soil-filled bags on lower courses could dissolve)
3. earthbags filled with scoria (lightweight volcanic aggregate) in cold climates (example: scoria-filled bags are equivalent to a frost-protected foundation, and therefore eliminate the need for rigid foam insulation and extensive excavation)
4. scoria-filled bags in desert regions or tropical climates as a cooling strategy

For more information:
Earthbag building information at

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Emergency Shelter for Pakistan

The death toll mounts as winter closes in on the survivors of the recent earthquake in Pakistan. Emergency shelter is essential for the survival of up to 3 million - and time is of the utmost importance.

The Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building, along with Kelly Hart of, is finalizing an emergency shelter design that could save many thousands of lives and alleviate considerable suffering.

The challenge is to provide quick, safe, decent shelter with minimal tools and supplies to sustain life through the winter. Access to remote areas is extremely difficult, since many roads have been destroyed or blocked by landslides. Because of these and other difficulties, and the fact that winter will soon create a much more dire situation, fast easy-to-build temporary shelter (that can be upgraded to permanent housing later) seems most appropriate.

The proposed design incorporates a round, earthbag structure partially inset into the ground. Rice bags or sandbags are filled with soil from the building site and tamped in place to create the walls. The roof is built with poles salvaged from destroyed buildings, covered with straw, grass, leaves or whatever is available, covered with plastic sheeting or tarps, and bermed with earth to hold in place. The size can be adapted to meet to site-specific needs.

A typical shelter could be built in 90 hours, not including plastering. For example, this structure could be constructed by 5 unskilled workers working 6 hours a day for 3 days.

Free plans and specifications are posted at:
Emergency Shelter Plans for Pakistan

Earthbag Dome Building (another option for earthquake zones)

More earthbag building information at

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Earthbag Dome Building

Kelly Hart of has recently completed a web page with step-by-step instructions on earthbag dome building.

Complete with clear illustrations and detailed text, this site includes almost everything you need to know to build your own earthbag dome. And, if needed, additional information is available at

A key advantage of Kelly Hart’s system over other techniques is the use of scoria as a fill material. Scoria, a lightweight volcanic aggregate, is rot proof, fireproof, flood resistant, and does not attract rodents or insects. Scoria also has an insulation value approximately that of strawbale walls (R-30), making it ideal for extremes of hot and cold climates.

These earthbag domes are ideal for earthquake-prone regions such as Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey. Domes are inherently very stable, plus these particular domes are reinforced with barbed wire and stucco mesh to withstand seismic activity.

In addition, they cost only a fraction of concrete and steel monolithic domes, and also are much more environmentally friendly and more practical for do-it-yourselfers. Unskilled workers can learn the basics in a few hours and build their own shelter with minimal hand tools.

Kelly Hart and Dr. Owen Geiger are available for consulting on earthbag building projects.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Energy-efficiency Upgrades

Houses will not perform as well as expected energy-wise if they are leaky. Heat takes the path of least resistance and will quickly be lost through air leaks. Tighter homes (with sufficient ventilation) also are more comfortable because they are less drafty.

A Habitat for Humanity home in Pueblo, Colorado was given a number of energy-efficiency upgrades to measure their cost and effectiveness.

The main lesson learned is how easy and inexpensive it is to tighten up a home (a strawbale house in this case, but the same principles apply to any home) and still achieve a significant increase in energy savings. These upgrades should pay for themselves within the first year and continue to save money for the life of the home. And, because this was done on a low-cost Habitat home demonstrates that these steps could be done on any home.

The upgrades included caulk, foam insulation, extra ceiling insulation, a hot water heater blanket, insulation for hot water pipes, and compact fluorescents for high-use areas, at a cost of just $186 (in 1999).

The 5-Star Plus rating (the highest possible rating in Colorado) by Energy Rated Homes of Colorado verified the results. An E-Star rating of 80 points is considered energy-efficient. This home scored 91 points, making it one of the most efficient in Colorado. In addition, the upgrades on this home reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 2.9 tons per year.

With skyrocketing heating costs predicted for this coming winter, readers are encouraged to read the full report:

Energy-efficiency Upgrades

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Straw-Bale Construction Basics

Straw-bale construction produces an exceptionally unique home unmatched by other building methods. Strawbale homes are safe, warm, quiet, and environmentally friendly. One of the primary benefits of building with straw bales is the lower utility costs over the life of the building. The U.S. Department of Energy in document #SD-240 states "Straw bale building technology offers the best energy performance of any of the new construction typologies being considered." This amounts to thousands of dollars in energy savings over the life of the building, which is particularly helpful to families struggling to afford a home. And, as world resources become increasingly scarce, we need to make every reasonable effort to protect our environment.

Advantages of strawbale:
• Excellent insulation (saving energy is the main advantage)
• Durable (some strawbale houses have lasted over 100 years)
• Fire resistance (once plastered, strawbale houses are more fire resistant than wood-framed houses)
• Environmentally friendly (use local resources and save our forests!)
• Owner-builder friendly (if you build small and use a relatively simple design)
• Low cost (if you build simply and do most of the work yourself, otherwise expect to pay the typical going rate for homes in your area)
• Insect and rodent resistance (once plastered)

Recommended resources:
Straw-bale Construction, by Bruce King

House of Straw – Straw-bale Construction Comes of Age

The Big Picture: Strawbale Trends and Defining "Eco-Sensible" Design, by Sigi Koko

The Last Straw

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Straw Bale Shelter Video

Thanks to the generosity of Matts Myhrman and Judy Knox, their Straw Bales for Shelter video is now available on the Geiger Research Institute website as a low-cost ($10) download.

This 10-minute how-to video shows the step-by-step process of constructing emergency straw bale shelters. Working unrehearsed with volunteers, Matts Myhrman demonstrates just how fast and easy it is to build emergency shelters out of bales.

The potential of these emergency shelters to house those in need is enormous. For example, they can provide temporary housing after natural disasters or wars, or for poverty stricken areas such as the US/Mexico border. With some additional time and effort, the shelters could be modified to become permanent straw bale homes. And unlike most other temporary shelter, straw bales create living spaces that are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

All proceeds will be used to purchase building materials for affordable housing projects.

Free, detailed Straw Bale Emergency Shelter Plans also are available on the Geiger Research Institute website.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Forest Gardens

Sustainable communities require a sustainable source of food. A forest garden is a diverse collection of useful plants arranged in multiple layers much like a natural forest: canopy trees, smaller trees, shrubs, herbs, groundcover, root crops and climbers. Forest gardening was popularized in Britain by Robert Hart, although indigenous peoples throughout the tropics have been utilizing similar gardens for centuries.

Replicating a natural ecosystem, a forest garden is perhaps the most ecologically friendly way of gardening because it works with nature rather than against it. Once up and running, it requires almost no digging, cultivating, weeding, and sowing like that of a conventional garden. The main task is simply picking the fresh, organic, nutritious food.

Ideally all plants in the garden have multiple uses, which may include: food, medicinal uses, dyes, fibers, oils, attraction of beneficial insects, fuel, fodder, building and craft materials, creating shade or windbreaks, habitat for wildlife, and producing soil building nutrients or mulch.

With sufficient diversity and careful design, forest gardening is self-sustaining by being self-fertilizing, self-watering in large part, low maintenance, and naturally pest resistant through the use of mutually beneficial plants or guilds. In general, it is the most ecological, efficient, beautiful, and most productive per unit area of any type of agriculture.

Recommended sources:
Forest Gardening in Ohio

The Natural Farmer

Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape

Edible Forest Gardens

How to Make a Forest Garden

Thursday, September 29, 2005

New Projects

A number of new projects are in the works at the Geiger Research Institute and will be available soon from our website at

* Earthbag construction manual for domes: Step-by-step, pictorial instructions, designed for use in developing regions and ease of translation, are being developed in collaboration with Akio Inoue of Tenri University and Kelly Hart of, both well known experts in earthbag building.

* Earthbag construction manual for vertical walls: Step-by-step, pictorial instructions, designed for use in developing regions and ease of translation, are being developed in collaboration with Kelly Hart of Both manuals will be available for free on the Geiger Research Institute website.

* Small diameter wood: Building on previous efforts to encourage the use of small diameter wood (the small trees that are choking our forests and contributing to out-of-control forest fires), the Geiger Research Institute is developing a complete building system that reduces costs and eliminates the use of unsustainably harvested and imported dimensional lumber.

* Tsunami-resistant housing: In collaboration with the US Military Academy at West Point, who is providing the tsunami/hurricane/earthquake engineering design, and a team of licensed architects, CAD designers and other building professionals, are finalizing a housing plan for the tsunami stricken area of SE Asia. All plans and specifications will be freely available on the Geiger Research Institute website.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Strawbale Shelter Workshop

A Native American Affordable Housing Workshop was completed September 3-4, 2005 in Crestone, Colorado in collaboration with Brave Heart Construction. Workshop participants built a strawbale emergency shelter and then learned how to modify it to create a permanent strawbale home for use in Native American communities.

The strawbale shelter built during the workshop was based on these plans: Free Straw Bale Emergency Shelter Plans

Natural building workshops at the Geiger Research Institute are designed for natural builders, architects, educators, designers and anyone interested in building low-tech, affordable housing. Although everyone's skill level will vary, these workshops are excellent for gaining practical experience in each aspect of natural building.

For information on future workshops, go to our Workshops page.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Lakota Sustainable Housing

A sustainable development workshop was held on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, August 8th -18th, 2005. PennElys GoodShield, Project Coordinator of the Sustainable Nations Development Project, organized the workshop to encourage sustainable development in Native American communities.

The workshop took place on Henry Red Cloud’s land, a descendent of Chief Red Cloud, who is determined to restore Oglala Lakota Sioux traditions and self sufficiency according to traditional wisdom. Seven generations have passed with their people living among the white man. "After the seventh generation, we would become self-sufficient by taking their goodness and the goodness of the Lakota," Henry Red Cloud said, “and secure the future of the next seven generations.”

Excitement over new possibilities was certainly in the air, judging by the enthusiasm evident among participants. Topics ranged from photovoltaics and wind energy systems, to sustainable building and straw-bale construction.

Instructors at the workshop included Johnny Weiss of Solar Energy International, Duran Dalton of NativeSUN, and PennElys GoodShield. David Brave Heart of Brave Heart Construction (a native of Pine Ridge) and Dr. Owen Geiger of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building were the strawbale instructors. There were 17 students hailing from Arizona, Manitoba, Minnesota, California, Oklahoma and New Mexico, as well as local South Dakota.

The final structure was quite elegant and very satisfying: a graceful round strawbale building, that was in keeping with traditional Lakota structures, was topped with a roof not unlike that of a tipi. Overall, I was left with the impression of somehow being a part of history – the Lakota are beginning to fulfill their destiny of self sufficiency and it appears great things lie ahead.

For pictures and more information: Sustainable Nations Training

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans Sustainably

It is time for the citizens of New Orleans, along with the rest of the United States, to take a long hard look at reconstruction options. The United Nations recently mandated a buffer zone be created along the coastlines of tsunami-impacted regions of Southeast Asia. The same logic should be applied to other areas that are prone to natural disasters.

One of the first things architecture and construction students learn about is site selection (“Building Fundamentals 101,” so to speak). Is the site under consideration in a flood plain? Is there adequate drainage and protection against moisture damage? What about other hazards in the vicinity such as radon, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.? It is only prudent to pause and consider these and other issues as the future course of the city is chartered.

The suggestions offered here are echoed by former President Jimmy Carter, who is recommending that "many housing and other development projects would need to be moved, strengthened or excluded from beachfronts and other sites where sand dunes, wetlands and other natural protective areas need to be preserved."

Here are a few reasons not to rebuild New Orleans in the present location:
1. High risk of more natural disasters: New Orleans has been quite fortunate over the years when you consider that it was built in one of the worst possible locations. Rebuilding on the current site will put people in harm's way unnecessarily.
2. Lower reconstruction costs: Most builders will tell you that it is less expensive to build new than it is to rebuild severely damaged buildings and infrastructure. Historic buildings and buildings with low to moderate damage could be relocated.
3. Lower long-term costs: Building on higher ground a safe distance away from the coast would eliminate the expense of creating and maintaining a flood control system. Floodwalls in New Orleans keep sinking in the mud and require continual maintenance.
4. Reconstruction could begin almost immediately and quite possibly be completed more quickly (assuming that government agencies can sort out land ownership records in a timely manner): There would be no need to wait for draining and drying the city, repairing infrastructure, removing mold, etc., and no need to build or repair levees and other flood prevention systems. One source estimated that it would take several years just to restore running water and sewers.
5. Health hazards: New Orleans has become a toxic waste dump of sewage, chemicals and decaying bodies that will permeate every inch of the city, including every home and business. Most buildings will be filled with mold once the floodwaters recede. Rescue personnel, construction workers and future residents will be subjected to these hazards. Outbreaks of disease, higher health care costs and lawsuits are imminent, and therefore need to be added to the cost of reconstruction if New Orleans is rebuilt in its present location.
6. Burden on taxpayers: Taxpayers are going to pay for rescue operations and then be required to rebuild the city in an area that is clearly not suitable for habitation. At the same time, schools, roads, water treatment plants, parks, you name it, across the US are already underfunded. Rebuilding New Orleans in a more sensible area could save tens of billions of dollars. And surely, there will be other natural disasters over the coming years while the city is being rebuilt and we need to ensure that adequate resources are available to deal with them in a timely manner.
7. Restoration of the environment: The Mississippi delta and the surrounding coastline should be restored for environmental reasons, as well as reduce the brunt of future storm surges. This is impossible to accomplish with a city in the way. Maybe New Orleans should be completely flooded once all toxic materials have been removed, and then allowed to become a sunken city.
8. Rebuild to a higher standard: Let’s take this opportunity to rebuild New Orleans better than it was, including making it more sustainable. Properly designed and sited on higher ground, the new city would be more resistant to future natural disasters and also benefit from innumerable modern features.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Zero Energy Housing

Phase I of the zero-energy housing research program at the Geiger Research Institute introduces the primary strategies, principles and guidelines that can be applied to a wide variety of house designs.

Links on energy-efficient housing, sustainable building, solar design and appropriate technology point readers to resources that help define the scope of the program. Phase II will provide a finished house design that incorporates these concepts.

Zero-energy housing strategies:
1. Build small
2. Efficient use of space
3. Low-embodied energy building materials (primarily locally available, natural materials)
4. Superinsulation
5. Balance of mass and insulation
6. Multiple use features (serve more than one purpose)
7. Lifestyle change of inhabitants
8. Maximum solar design
9. Appropriate technology
10. Energy-efficient appliances and fixtures
11. Energy and resource-efficient shape
12. Safe and healthy design

More information is available at: Zero Energy Housing

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Model for Affordable Housing Projects

Tribal, state and federal governments, housing organizations and the free market system have all failed to solve the housing crisis in large part because the houses they produce are not affordable for those they intend to serve. Current housing programs fail to address the poorest of the poor due to reliance on outside contractors, costly building materials, overly complex house designs and excessive building codes. These programs lack community participation, cultural appropriateness, sustainability, adequate funding and job training.

This plan by Dr. Owen Geiger provides a housing model that addresses all these issues. The recommended housing solution is a hands-on training program that creates self-build housing with locally available, natural materials to lower construction costs to a level where housing is affordable for everyone. This housing plan creates jobs, empowers homeowners and provides solutions to the major housing barriers that have held back previous efforts. It demonstrates how to build community as well as houses through bringing people together for a common cause, and turns the building process itself into one of celebration that helps restore traditional Native American ways.

The building process proposed in this project emphasizes a sustainable approach to housing development using natural building methods such as straw-bale construction. Natural building methods utilize readily available materials such as straw, stone and earth, as opposed to costly materials such as milled lumber, steel and concrete. The most effective way to provide affordable and comfortable housing is to utilize low-cost, locally available materials because other alternatives are often prohibitively expensive, impractical or simply unavailable. This housing plan provides a guideline to safe, comfortable, affordable housing that is within the grasp of all Navajos and anyone else in need of shelter. This model could eventually be adapted for use in other Native American communities, colonias along the US/Mexico border and other communities around the world in need of affordable housing.

This publication is now available from the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building for $20 as a download. Visit the Contact Us webpage to place an order.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

BWB Straw-Bale Construction Guides

The Builders Without Borders (BWB) Straw-Bale Construction Guide was created to meet the growing demand for easy-to-understand instructions on building strawbale homes. It was designed for workshop participants, the communities that work with BWB and anyone who wants to build a comfortable, affordable home. This book is a pictorial how-to guide on straw-bale construction basics that emphasizes low-cost methods to help those in the greatest need for affordable housing. To read more about this book, go to

The BWB Facilitators Guide is the curriculum that accompanies the BWB Straw-Bale Construction Guide. The Facilitators Guide outlines the purpose of each section, activities, discussion topics, technical considerations, time frames and exercises to accomplish the desired goals. Lesson plans on each topic help the instructor convey the concepts in the Straw-Bale Construction Guide. To read more about this book, go to

These Guides were co-authored by Dr. Owen Geiger, the Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building.

You can order the BWB Straw-Bale Construction Guides from:
Builders Without Borders
119 Main Street
Kingston, NM 88042
(505) 895-5400

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dirt Cheap Shelter

Ever wonder how to build a simple home for very little money and without going into debt? Free articles on the Geiger Research Institute Publications page explain how to use low-cost, locally available natural materials such earth, small diameter wood and straw to keep expenses to a minimum.

Tractor cob: Cob houses last for centuries and can be built using the soil from the building site. Consisting of just clay, sand and straw, cob is well suited for owner-builders short on cash. However, the process hasn’t become widespread because it is so labor intensive. This article (the first full-length article on tractor cob) explains how you can eliminate over 90% of the labor using a tractor to mechanize the process.

Tamped earth floors: Earth floors have been used since the beginning of history. Floors in Taos Pueblo, for example, have lasted for over 600 years. Imagine how much you could save by not replacing carpet or linoleum every 15-20 years. (And, they don’t require expensive wood framing, offgass toxic chemicals or clog up landfills.) The main drawback to earthen floors is they are very slow drying. Tamped earth floors are much faster drying than poured earth floors and have the potential to turn this age-old building technique into mainstream use.

Small diameter wood: As a result of poor management, US forests are choked with small trees. Thinning this excess wood improves the health of the forest, reduces risk of forest fires, and provides a nearly unlimited source of wood for those who harvest it. These small trees can be used in the round (which is inherently stronger than milled lumber) for pole trusses, posts. beams, etc. Or they can be turned into door and window bucks, studs, plates, rafters, cabinets and furniture using an inexpensive chainsaw guide.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Free Straw Bale Shelter Plans

For about $350 you can build a simple straw bale shelter thanks to the efforts of Matts Myhrman, Judy Knox and Owen Geiger. The Geiger Research Institute offers the free plans on their website. They include drawings, specifications and basic instructions, and are available in three formats - Microsoft Word, JPEG and HTML.

Based on straw-bale construction techniques in Build it With Bales, by Matts Myhrman and S.O. MacDonald, these free shelter plans show how almost anyone can build one in just a few hours. These plans are ideal for creating temporary shelter for refugees, disaster victims or anyone else in need of quick, easy-to-build, safe shelter using a minimum of tools.

The basic shelter design can be easily upgraded into permanent shelter by adding plaster (including earth plaster), a more durable roof, and other improvements. In addition, the plans can be modified to meet site-specific conditions. For example, the roof overhang could be increased in rainy climates to better protect the bales.

Elimination of Poverty Housing

Substandard housing - crude shelters haphazardly made of scraps of junk, cardboard and similar materials – is where over one billion of the world’s poorest live. These shacks, and the associated grinding poverty of those who live in them, are an affront to civilized society. We can and must do better.

Dr. Owen Geiger, the Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building, has spent his life searching for affordable housing solutions and is now unveiling the first comprehensive plan to eliminate poverty housing at two upcoming events:

- August 14-15, 2005 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota: Sustainable Sustainable Development and Technology workshop.

- September 3, 2005 in Crestone, Colorado: Renewable Energy Fair, 2-3 pm.

Dr. Geiger is calling for a Global Housing Initiative to address the unprecedented level of homelessness and substandard housing. His proposal is designed to mesh with the Millennium Project – the United Nations' ambitious program to cut poverty in half by 2015 and eliminate extreme poverty in our lifetime.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Straw-Bale Construction Certification

The Global Straw-Bale Construction Certification Program provides the highest quality strawbale training available anywhere in the world. This unique program combines hands-on experiences with research and assignments using the leading books, videos, journals, and Internet and other electronic resources.

The Global Straw-Bale Construction Certification Program is a distance learning program for those within reach of the Internet and with an adequate knowledge of English. Students can begin the program at any time and work at their own pace through independent guided study. Advisors at the Geiger Research Institute provide guidance and critical analysis throughout the training process.

This strawbale certification program takes approximately one year to complete, although students with construction or architecture backgrounds may be able to complete the training more rapidly. The program consists of 14 modules that cover each major step of construction, as well as other relevant topics that form the essential knowledge for practitioners in the field.

For more information, go to: Straw-Bale Construction Certification

Straw-Bale Construction Training

Building with bales is growing by leaps and bounds because of its broad appeal to owner-builders and its extraordinary energy-efficiency. In just a few weeks you will learn the basic principles needed to build your own strawbale house.

With this Straw Bale Training course you get a combination of theoretical book knowledge and applied hands-on learning – which is a great way to learn. In addition, an Advisor at the Geiger Research Institute will provide individual guidance and critical analysis throughout the training process via email.

You will be using the best resource materials throughout the course. More Straw Bale Building, by Chris Magwood, Peter Mack and Tina Therrien, is one of the best books ever written on straw-bale construction. The Last Straw Journal CD-Rom puts 40 issues at your finger tips, enabling you to search through all the best ideas. And, selected Internet links to the best online resources are an integral part of the straw bale training course.

Online training offers tremendous flexibility. You can start the course at any time and proceed at your own pace. There is no need to travel to some distant school or workshop. And again, when you need help your Advisor will be available to answer your questions.

For more information, go to: Straw Bale Training

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sustainable Building Electronic Directory

Are you spending lots of time searching for information on sustainable building? Two new search tools at make the job a lot easier:

  • Browsing: The Sustainable Building Electronic (SBE) Directory provides about 200 links in 28 categories that point directly to online articles, thereby saving time and effort searching through entire websites. Each site in the SBE Directory has been carefully chosen for its quality information.
  • Searching: You can search the text of these articles using the built-in search engine. A targeted search such as this saves searching through thousands of sites, often of dubious quality. Compare the results to any major search engine and see for yourself.

Many of the links in the SBE Directory point to the largest sustainable building websites. This means thousands of articles are available for browsing and searching.

Topics in the Sustainable Building Electronic Directory include: adobe, appropriate technology, bamboo, cob, cordwood, earth, earthbag, pressed earth block, rice hulls, soil cement, solar, straw bale, straw clay, sustainable development, traditional houses and about 13 other categories.