Ask the Experts



Links to topic page


Links to biography of advisor

Questions & Answers

Links to Q & A's

Here is your opportunity to interact with the greenhomebuilding.com panel of experts. You are invited to ask ONE question of any of our distinguished panel. You can ask more than one expert, if you like, but please don't ask for more than ONE response of any of the experts, even over time.

Please read the Questions and Answers that have already been published on the page that pertains to your question, before submitting your question...the answer may already be there! You can view the questions and answers for any given topic by clicking on the Q&A link in the table above.

Also, please limit your question to their area of expertise, as defined by the category that they represent. If you would like more in-depth consultation with any expert, just state this in the space provided below and this request will be forwarded.

Your question and the answer to it may eventually be published along with all of the others on the appropriate page of this website. Your name and e-mail address will not be made public, nor will this data be sold or otherwise transferred.

  Click this link for SUBMISSION FORM


Our Distinguished Panel of Advisor/Consultants


Sim Van der Ryn is a recognized pioneer and expert in sustainable architecture and planning practices. Through his varied experience as principal of several design firms, Professor of Architecture at the University of California Berkeley and California State Architect, he has provided countless examples of state-of-the art ecological design and has been a catalyst toward the current ground swell of interest and support for these practices. As President and Chief Designer at Van der Ryn Architects in Sausalito, he is currently designing a new generation of environmentally friendly buildings. The American Institute of Architecture designated his Real Goods Solar Living Center in Hopland, California as one of the nation's top 10 projects for Earth Day 1999. His current design for the West End Golden Gate Park Pavilion Community Center is the pilot project for the City of San Francisco's Green Building Program. Van der Ryn is author of several seminal books in the fast growing field of "green architecture" including Sustainable Communities (Sierra Club, 1986), Ecological Design (with Stuart Cowan, Island Press, 1996) and Geometry of Hope (manuscript, 2002).


Paulina Wojciechowska was born in Poland and spent her formative years in Afghanistan and India. She became fascinated by age-old architecture created by artisan builders. After studying architecture in Great Britain, she traveled to the United States and Mexico to study natural, alternative and indigenous building methods. She apprenticed with Nader Khalili at Cal-Earth, as well as with strawbale building pioneers Athena and Bill Steen at the Canelo Project. Out of this experience, she has written Building with Earth: A Guide to Flexible-Form Earthbag Construction (Chelsea Green, 2002) which is the first book published on the emerging methods of earthbag building. Paulina has established a nonprofit trust, "Earth, Hands & Houses," which supports building projects that empower indigenous people around the world to build their own shelter from natural materials that are available locally. She would be happy to consult on any project that would employ her broad range of training and skills.


Jenny Pickerill (PhD) is a Professor of Environmental Geography at the University of Sheffield. She has been teaching on environmental issues, eco-building, and social change for many years, is a journal editor, has published several books and many articles and is also a guest lecturer at The Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales. She has built her own eco-house in Leicestershire, England from reclaimed materials. She has spent over a decade working with environmental activist and social change organisations, and co-edited a book on the self-build eco-homes. She is currently doing a research project on affordable eco-housing, having been awarded a travelling fellowship by the Winston Churchill Trust in order to improve approaches and practices to affordable eco-building. She is also working on a project with physical scientists exploring how best to help prepare rural communities survive climate change. She writes the Green Building Blog about low-cost eco-housing and continues to seek to improve environmental education at Universities, particularly ways in which we can incorporate practical learning into theoretical programmes.


Kelly Hart is your host here at greenhomebuilding.com, and has been involved with green building concepts for much of his life. Kelly spent many years as a professional remodeler, during which time he became acquainted with many of the pitfalls of conventional construction. He has also worked in various fields of communication media, including still photography, cinematography, animation (he has a patent for a process for making animated films), video production and now website development. One DVD program that he produced is A Sampler of Alternative Homes: Approaching Sustainable Architecture, which explores a whole range of building concepts that are earth friendly. Kelly is knowledgeable about both simple design concepts and more complex technological aspects of home building that enhance sustainable living. He has even designed and built a solar-electric car that he drove around his neighborhood. Kelly, and his wife Zana, lived for many years in the earthbag/papercrete home that he designed and built and that is profiled on the earthbag page.


Jim Tolpin is a cabinetmaker-turned-journalist who has written a number of award-winning books on woodworking and home design. His book, The New Cottage Home (Taunton Press, 1998), is featured on this page. Jim has written a number of books on various aspects of woodworking, all published by Taunton Press, including Building Traditional Kitchen Cabinets; The Toolbox Book; Working Wood; and Built-in Furniture. Jim's most recent book is titled The New Family Home. In the course of researching and writing The New Cottage Home, Jim had the opportunity to explore small, unique houses from all parts of the country. All were filled with careful, yet sometimes quirky, craftsmanship and design work-- comfortable dwellings that set quality of place far ahead of quantity of space. Speaking more to his heart than his head, these houses awoke dreams of his childhood, dreams of living in a house in which he felt completely at home.


Ken Haggard, formerly an architecture professor at California Polytechnic, is an architect and principal in the San Luis Sustainability Group. Since the late sixties, Ken has designed more than 200 solar buildings, from homes to large commercial and institutional buildings—as well as the first permitted straw bale building in California. An active member of the American and International Solar Energy Societies, he received the Passive Pioneer Award from ASES in 1999 and was made a fellow of ASES in 2000. His office and home—in Santa Margarita, California—are passive solar, off grid, and straw bale. With David Bainbridge, Ken wrote Passive Solar Architecture: Heating, Cooling, Ventilation, Daylighting and More Using Natural Flows, published by Chelsea Green in 2011.


Paul Shippee is director of Colorado Sunworks and is a solar designer and builder. He was the founding President of the Colorado Solar Energy Association, and a teacher. Paul holds a degree in Civil Engineering, with a major in Structural Engineering from the University of Connecticut. He helped plan housing experiments in energy conservation with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and designed and built the SunEarth House, which was the best-rated energy conservation, earth-sheltered home in a HUD-sponsored study. He holds a U.S. patent on a solar water heating system. Paul is currently living in a rammed-earth/strawbale home that he has designed as a personal residence in Colorado. His book, THE LANGUAGE OF SOLAR ENERGY: Heat Loss & Solar Gain for Buildings, is available from his website: crestonesolarschool.com.


Johnny Weiss is Cofounder and Executive Director of Solar Energy International (SEI). Johnny is a solar educator, consultant, credentialed Industrial Trainer and solar building professional. He has over twenty years experience teaching the practical applications of the renewable energy (RE) technologies of solar, wind and water power. As an Associate Professor for ten years at the Colorado Mountain College, he helped develop and teach a hands-on vocational training program in solar thermal, photovoltaics, energy efficiency and construction skills. Johnny has extensive practical experience as a natural house builder and licensed general contractor. He is knowledgeable in the environmental building technologies of earth and straw bale construction. Johnny regularly works with Native Americans RE training programs. Johnny works in international sustainable development programs and projects helping transfer renewable energy technologies to the developing world.


Graham Bell has lived in Scotland since 1988, having previously spent ten years in London.  His work has taken him around Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the USA. He has a Master's Degree in Old English & Linguistics from Oxford University.  It took him many years to actually make the connection that most of what he does is dependant on the use of language, and to revalue that educational start point. Graham teaches sustainable design, and has written two books on the subject The Permaculture Way and The Permaculture Garden.  He frequently contributes articles to local, national and international media. He is actively involved in the cultural scene of Scotland, including Scottish Traditional music, song, art and woodwork.  He enjoys his garden, which supports a historic collection of Scottish apple cultivars and a wonderful range of bird life.   "Family is the most sustaining thing in my life.  After that comes the valuable network of people that I draw on for creative progress, both for myself and the people I work with.  Home is where the heart is." For more about Graham and his work visit www.grahambell.org.


Janine Bjornson is a natural builder, practitioner and educator. She began her career in natural building when she trained with The Cob Cottage in 1996. Since then, she has taught over 65 workshops in Canada and the United States, from east to west. Her passion for building with natural materials bloomed out of her love for the earth, in conjunction with her concern for diminishing ecological resources and toxic buildings. As a result of this, Janine has devoted the last 14 years to immersing herself in the world of natural materials and the knowledge of how we can shape dwellings that are healthy, healing, inspiring, and beautiful. She has developed a penchant for natural paints, and plasters and loves the concept of “naturalizing” any kind of home. She loves to share this knowledge with others and this is evident in her enthusiastic teaching style. Janine has assisted in organizing 2 Natural Building Colloquia. She has presented at the Natural Building Colloquium in Bath, New York, Kingston, New Mexico, and Kerrville, Texas. She taught the hands-on natural building component of New College of California’s EcoDwelling program, and Dominican University’s EcoDwelling program. She lives in Sebastopol, California. www.claybonesandstones.com.


Greg Nolan has been in the forestry business for 25 years. He started his career in Oregon, working for the US Forest Service. For ten years he worked as a fire fighter in the summer and did reforestation contract work in the spring and fall. He was recruited to leadership positions both in the Forest Service and working in the private contracting world. In 1980 he headed east two days before Mt. St. Helens blew her cork (was this a sign?) He settled on the back forty of the family farm in the Mississippi headwaters region of central Minnesota where he started Snowy Pines Reforestation. Since that time he has been immersed in building community around sustainable forestry and responsible use of our natural resources. He has worked with a variety of groups to accomplish this, including Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, MN. Dept. of Natural Resources, U of MN., Midwest Renewable Energy Assoc., Headwaters Forestry Co-op, Long Prairie River Stewardship Project, and hundreds of private landowners. He lives in a solar-electric home which he built from locally harvested materials. He likes the idea of working with the forest and it's products from seedlings to siding and flooring. He is interested in fine tuning our harvest methods to encourage natural regeneration of our native high quality hardwoods (especially Oak) and caring for the local White Pine Resource. He avoids the use of chemicals in forest management, believing we don't know enough about what is happening in our forest soils to apply such radical treatments. His forestry advise will reflect this philosophy.


Bill Sitkin says, "At the heart of recycling, for me, is a great love for this planet and the awesome natural systems that support life here. I have always been a 'dumpster diver' and developed a used building materials and deconstruction business known as The ReStore in Crestone, Colorado. I look forward to your questions on anything about recycling materials or deconstructing buildings."


Robert Riversong has created his own form of the Larsen Truss building system, and specializes in super-insulated houses. He teaches at the The Yestermorrow School in Vermont, and his classes have included: Efficiency by Design; Plumbing DeMystified; Math for Builders; Engineering for the Homebuilder; Hygro-Thermal Engineering: Moisture Mechanics & Management in Residential Construction; Tricks of the Trade; Thinking Like a Mountain; Foundations: Building the Base for Appropriate Construction; and Rigging, Rolling & Raising. From geodesic domes in the 1970s and a community land trust homestead program in rural Maine in 1981, Robert has worked as a project manager, trainer, and consultant for non-profit building projects from inner-city Boston to the hollers of Tennessee.  He has focused on passive solar super-insulated buildings, with one of his design/build projects receiving a Citation for Excellence in a national energy/resource-efficient design competition. Robert has also worked as an outdoor experiential educator and wilderness guide, a ritual leader and rites-of-passage facilitator, and a spiritual midwife for people in transition.  


Kelly Hart, your host at greenhomebuilding.com, is an avid solar greenhouse gardener and has built many of them in a variety of climates. The most recent one he built can be seen on the Grow your Food page. Kelly spent many years as a professional remodeler, during which time he became acquainted with many of the pitfalls of conventional construction. He has also worked in various fields of communication media, including still photography, cinematography, animation (he has a patent for a process for making animated films), video production and now website development. One of the more recent video programs that he produced is A Sampler of Alternative Homes: Approaching Sustainable Architecture, which explores a whole range of building concepts that are earth friendly. Kelly is knowledgeable about both simple design concepts and more complex technological aspects of home building that enhance sustainable living.


Kelly Hart is your host at greenhomebuilding.com. He and Rosana created a large pantry (about 150 Sqare feet) in their earthbag house, which can be seen on this page (above). Kelly has produced a video, titled Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete House, which chronicles the adventure of building this house, and shows some of the making of this pantry. Kelly is available to answer questions about what he has done, or consult about other pantry or root cellar projects.


Michael Black, who has designed three cohousing communities in CA, now also offers development and development consulting services through Community Life Development LLC. He is currently spearheading two elder cohousing communities, one near Austin and one on the northern CA coast, and is assisting an aging-in-place cohousing community in Austin, TX. Michael Black & Associates has been providing consensus-based community planning and architectural services to a wide variety of clients for over twenty-five years. Michael is now partnering with other architects, while focusing his design and community-building skills on aging-in-place and elder cohousing.


Dan Chiras has been involved in natural and alternative building since 1994 and lives in an off-grid passive solar/solar electric home in the foothills of the Rockies. His house is built from straw bales, rammed earth tires, and numerous green building materials and is powered entirely by wind and solar energy. Dan is author of The Natural House: A Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy-Efficient, Environmental Homes, published by Chelsea Green; The Natural Plaster Book: Earthen, Lime, and Gypsum Plasters for Natural Homes (with Cedar Rose Guelberth), published by New Society Publishers; and numerous articles on natural building and sustainable design, which have appeared in Mother Earth News, Natural Home, and The Last Straw. Dan embraces a comprehensive systems approach to building that offers a wide range of benefits to people, the planet, and our economy. He will field general questions on natural building and offers consultation on project design and construction, as well as lectures and workshops on various aspects of natural and sustainable design and construction.


John Connell founded the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in 1980 and the Yestermorrow Building Group Inc. (later to become 2morrow Studio in 1982.) He taught at Yale's school of architecture for five years after which he authored the book Homing Instinct: Using Your Lifestyle to Design & Build Your Own Home, McGraw Hill, 2000. Besides teaching he is currently designing green homes that tell "stories", design/building treehouses for handicapped children, and animating short films. 2morrow Studio puts into actual practice the design/build philosophy taught at the Yestermorrow School. A small design/build firm in Vermont, 2morrow Studio works with residential and small commercial clientele interested in integrated energy-efficient architecture using the latest green and sustainable methodologies. Besides architectural design, Connell is an experienced team builder, group facilitator and educational program designer. The Yestermorrow School teaches people how to plan, design, build or renovate their own homes. It is staffed by over 40 architects, builders and artisans from all over the United States who believe that the way to improve the built and natural environments is to re-involve people in vernacular architecture.


Quentin Wilson and Associates, specializes in solar adobe design and construction. He grew up in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico where he watched adobe bricks being made. In the fifth grade, he made miniature adobes on cookie sheets in his mother’s oven in order to construct house models for a class assignment. By age thirteen he made full-sized adobes in the back yard and ruined the grass. Later, he traveled a bit, went through the Army, and graduated eventually from the University of New Mexico with a major in physics, minors in math, chemistry, and education in 1970. After teaching high school two years and community college math for three more, Quentin moved into professional solaradobe construction in 1976 as the Project Manager and Instructor for the Sundwellings Demonstration Project at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM. He became a licensed general contractor in the State of New Mexico in 1982. He has been building homes and teaching seminars and workshops ever since. In the fall of 1995 he established and taught the full-time Adobe Construction Program at Northern New Mexico Community College. His website, quentinwilson.com, lists the course schedule and many other resources related to working with adobe.


Michael G. Smith has a background in environmental engineering, ecology, and sustainable resource management. In 1993, along with Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley, he started the Cob Cottage Company, a research and teaching group focused on reviving and improving traditional forms of earthen construction. He is the author of The Cobber's Companion: How to Build Your Own Earthen Home (Cob Cottage Co., 1998) and co-author of The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources (New Society, 2002) and The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage (Chelsea Green, 2002). He teaches practical workshops and provides consultation to owner-builders on a wide variety of natural building techniques, site selection, and design. He lives in an intentional community in Northern California. His informative website is www.strawclaywood.com.


Clifton Schooley is a green building professional specializing in insulated rammed earth construction and architectural design in Canada and worldwide. His vision is to create environments that are beautiful, artistic, sustainable and have a positive social impact. Clifton believes that both design and construction of a building must be intimately connected to bring maximum benefit to both people and the environment. Beyond rammed earth his ambition is to become an eco-developer and influence society on a larger scale. For more information, visit:  www.rammedearth.info


Michael Frerking began Living Systems Sustainable Architecture (LSSA) 33 years ago after experiencing the devastation caused by clear cutting in the Pacific northwest. Dedicated from the beginning to the practice of energy and resource efficiency and earth construction, Michael became one of the first architects in the southwest to promote sustainable architecture featuring the beauty of high mass earthen walls for passive solar and earth friendly products for a healthy and resource efficient home. Although beginning with adobe and rammed earth, Michael began to chart a new course in 1995 when he pioneered a unique technology - poured earth - which allowed him simultaneously to reduce the time and cost of labor while raising both strength and insulation values for earthen buildings. Today, Michael's goals are four-fold: first, to design "zero-load," high mass buildings that actually produce excess energy and water as well as reduce CO2 production; second, to make available to the middle market elegantly designed sustainable earthen homes; third, to create buildings made to last for generations but at the end of their life can be regenerated or recycled; and, fourth, to make use of local and regional renewable resources.


Kelly Hart is your host at greenhomebuilding.com, and has built his own home using the earthbag technique, which can be seen on this page. He has adapted the concepts popularized by Nadir Khalili and his "superadobe" building, by filling the bags primarily with crushed volcanic rock. This creates insulated walls that are similar to strawbale, except that they are completely impervious to damage from moisture, insects or rodents. Earthbags can be used to fashion either flat walls, curved walls, or can be assembled in the shape of domes that require very little wood or steel. Kelly has produced a video, titled Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete House, which chronicles the adventure of building this house, and shows other earthbag houses as well. Kelly is available to answer questions about what he has done, or consult about other earthbag projects.


Dr. Owen Geiger, Ph.D.( in Social and Economic Development,) is the former Director of Builders Without Borders and current member of the BWB Steering Committee. Dr. Geiger is Founder and Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building (www.grisb.org). He is an author, engineer and licensed contractor specializing in strawbale construction and other types of sustainable building. He co-authored the Builders Without Borders Straw-Bale Construction Guides and contributed to Building Without Borders: Sustainable Construction for the Global Village. Dr. Geiger has consulted on numerous international housing projects, worked closely with Habitat for Humanity for seven years and mentored housing officials with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research. He is also a correspondent for The Last Straw Journal. Dr. Geiger's Global Straw-Bale Construction Certification Program provides high quality strawbale training via a unique program that combines hands-on experiences with research and assignments; this is a distance learning program for those within reach of the internet and with an adequate knowledge of English. See www.grisb.org for more information.


Rob Roy is Director of the Earthwood Building School, which has specialized in cordwood masonry instruction since 1980. Rob and his wife, Jaki, have built four innovative cordwood homes for themselves since 1975, including the Earthwood home where they have lived for over three decades. Earthwood is a 2400 SF two-story round, load-bearing cordwood home, earth-bermed and earth-roofed. Details of construction are in Rob's Earth-Sheltered Houses (New Society, 2006) and Cordwood Building: The State of the Art (New Society, 2003) two of fourteen books he is written in the alternative building field. Rob and Jaki have taught cordwood masonry in Earthwood Building School all over North America, as well as in Chile, New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii. They have helped scores of owner-builders with their cordwood projects, including homes, saunas and outbuildings. Earthwood has produced a 3.25-hour DVD on cordwood construction, which, with his books, can be accessed through the Earthwood website, or on the Cordwood page here. Rob is considered to be one of the leaders in the field of cordwood construction and earth sheltering. He does individual consultations at a flat rate of $75/hour, but answers questions here without charge. See also Earthwood Facebook. In July of 2015, Rob and Jaki, will be host the 5th Contintental Cordwood Conference at Earthwood CoCoCo/15, returning the conference to where the first one was held in 1994. Go to Earthwood Building School for information.


Will Beemer is a charter member and co-Executive Director of the Timber Framers Guild, and is owner of the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts in Washington, MA. For over 30 years, this school has been offering students a chance to improve their woodworking and timber framing skills. Will helps teach many courses at Heartwood and has been designing and building houses for over 35 years. He was a construction foreman at the Arcosanti project in Arizona, and design instructor at Cornell University. He has organized and taught building workshops around the world, including timber framing courses through the Guild and at Palomar College in San Diego, the North House Folk School and at the Colorado State University Mountain Campus. He has written for Fine Homebuilding , Joiner's Quarterly , and Timber Framing magazines.


Robert Riversong has created his own form of the Larsen Truss building system, and specializes in super-insulated houses. He teaches these techniques, and many other subjects, at the The Yestermorrow Schoolin Vermont. From geodesic domes in the 1970s and a community land trust homestead program in rural Maine in 1981, Robert has worked as a project manager, trainer, and consultant for non-profit building projects from inner-city Boston to the hollers of Tennessee.  He has focused on passive solar super-insulated buildings, with one of his design/build projects receiving a Citation for Excellence in a national energy/resource-efficient design competition. Robert has also worked as an outdoor experiential educator and wilderness guide, a ritual leader and rites-of-passage facilitator, and a spiritual midwife for people in transition.


Jo Scheer has been deeply involved in working with bamboo for about two decades, having lived in Rincon, Puerto Rico, where he built a home for his family with mainly bamboo components. He has been designing, building, and marketing a wide range of beautiful bamboo creations that can be seen at his website tropical-treehouse.com, where you can also find rental information on various accommodations in this tropical paradise. Jo has recently authored a book, How to Build with Bamboo, that outlines some 30 bamboo projects that elegantly demonstrate the beauty and functionality of bamboo. One of the more inventive of his designs is what he calls a "hooch", which is a small elevated abode made almost entirely of bamboo. The grounded footprint of this inverted pyramidal structure is roughly one square foot, since the entire weight is born on a small pedestal, while the room above is stabilized with guy wires. This hooch has been featured on TV and at conferences. With a background in science, Jo has been a teacher, technician, inventor, builder, contractor, sailor, agriculturist and artist, and thus is eminently qualified to field your questions about building or living with bamboo.


Michael Reynolds, creator of the Earthship concept, is a world leader in environmental building. He is the author of five books and has 30 years experience designing and building fully self-sufficient homes. The innovative Earthship design combines passive solar heating with thermal mass construction to create buildings that heat and cool themselves without consuming fossil fuels. Earthships create all their own electrical power with sun and wind, collect and treat their own water with integrated water systems. The main building block of the Earthship makes use of one of the worlds most plentiful, and most troublesome "natural resources", scrap automobile tires. Thousands of Earthships have been built all over the world in the US, Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Japan, South Africa, Honduras and Belgium. Michael's Earthship/Biotecture website provides a wealth of information about his innovative building concepts.


Kelly Hart, who is your host at greenhomebuilding.com, has been involved with papercrete from the early days of its popularization. He included interviews with papercrete pioneers Mike McCain, Eric Patterson and Sean Sands in the video he produced: A Sampler of Alternative Homes: Approaching Sustainable Architecture. He also chronicled his own use of this amazing material in his video: Building with Bags: How We Made Our Experimental Earthbag/Papercrete House. Kelly has built and used both an electric barrel mixer, and a McCain-designed tow mixer. His house is plastered inside and out with papercrete and can be seen here. He can speak from his experience with this novel stuff, and is frank about both its pros and it cons.


Fernando Martinez Lewels has a M.S.C.E degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. He is now working with the Agartif company in Chihuahua, Mexico (about 170 miles from El Paso Texas). This Company has developed a type of lightweight aggregate that provides material for all types of construction needs, at reasonable cost and with good thermal insulation values. They manufacture the equipment required to do this according to the needs of their customers; the feed stock are common construction materials that should be available in most locations. Their philosophy in developing this type of aggregate is to be able to use this everywhere, without depending on a lightweight aggregate quarry, so you can have access to this material in any part of the world. In Mexico we have a saying that "we build our homes so we have to go outside in the summer to be fresh, and in the winter we go outside to catch the rays of sun to be warm". Lightweight concrete can help this situation by making available materials for more comfortable homes. You can see some of the lightweight concrete products produced by his company at www.prefabricadoslewels.jimdo.com


Jose Garcia has been a landscape contractor for 24 years and has gravitated to doing a lot of rock work. He has built innumerable retaining walls of timbers, boulders, drystacked and mortared stone. He has built foundations out of stone and mortar and put rock veneer around the base of a straw bale building to raise the level of waterproofing. He lays about 20 tons of flagstone a year in patios and walkways. Over the last couple of years he has built a half dozen mortared flagstone staircases. In Colorado we are blessed with a wonderful red flagstone with great tensile strength that he uses to make benches. He tries to work with the stone's shape as it comes, and can generally lay out a patio with a minimal amount of cutting or chipping, and the benches are free form and distinctly shaped. Mostly He's out rolling boulders and flipping flagstone on a daily basis.


Ed Hartz, through his business www.hartzstone.com, has maintained a wide variety of materials, including limestone, marble, granite, terra cotta, terrazzo, concrete, slate, fieldstone, and brick. Ed leads a team of associates and craftsmen to complete projects efficiently and in their entirety. Stone and tile installations receive the careful attention to quality that signature architectural elements deserve, whether they are in elegant homes or commercial buildings. Ed Hartz can advise on maintaining a variety of stones and is a source for specialized equipment and materials. Ed provides professional evaluations, consultations and restorations in Fairfield and Westchester counties, all of New York City and Long Island, and with affiliates in Bermuda and the Caribbean. He also regularly writes articles for the Stone Industry News


Mike Oehler is the author of The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book which describes his PSP system of building underground. Mike has been living in an underground home of his design for over twenty years, and swears by his methods. He has evolved some very well thought-out concepts for designing underground structures, which could also be used with other construction techniques. PSP stand for Post, Shoring, Polyethylene---the basic, rather low-tech approach to using posts, boards and plastic sheeting to build underground very inexpensively. Mike has also produced a video series that demonstrates his concepts.


Brad Hankins has been designing and building unique projects for 25 years. He is hands-on with all the trades, believing that if he can't do the task himself, how can he expect varied and quality work from his crew and subcontractors? He studied engineering at the University of Washington (supported by carpentry work) until he figured out that engineers are schooled to look for problems while architects are schooled to look for solutions. After undoing the technical thought process by getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington State University, he received a Masters in Architecture from the University of Colorado at Denver. Brad is committed to reuse and recycling, designing small efficient spaces, and creating affordable housing. Questioning assumptions such as wants versus needs is an ongoing process. One of his recently published projects is a small home of 680 square feet known as Fredley. It is unique in its use of mixed materials and alternative design concepts. Brad works closely with the materials letting them inform the design. He currently runs a design/build business on Whidbey Island, WA (dbBrad).


Dr. Nabil Taha has over 27 years of structural engineering experience. Prior to opening his own engineering firm in Oregon in 1997, he was a Professor of Engineering at Northern Montana State University and at Oregon Institute of Technology. He has structural expertise in a wide range of building systems and can answer questions related to virtually any common building method. His focus is on green design and he is always willing to trying something new. Dr. Taha is dedicated to future sustainability through innovation; he creates solutions for beautiful sustainable and safe structures by melding old and new technologies. He loves a good challenge. He is Licensed in twenty three states and can design buildings and/or consult to assist with structural permitting in these states as well as internationally. As a prior College Professor, Dr. Taha is a teacher at heart. He loves to share his knowledge and offers educational seminars and trainings for the do-it-yourselfers and professionals alike. Dr. Taha's goal is to continue to grow and provide knowledge and services for those trying to make their dream project a reality. No project is too big or too small. For information about Dr. Nabil Taha and his engineering firm see www.structure1.com


Artist and Designer Michael Collins is a freeform visionary who inhabits the creative space between materials science, ecodesign and sustainable landscaping. He has taught many courses in permaculture and green building and has built his own laboratory for sustainable idea creation in Mexico. He seeks inspiration from nature and indigenous cultures to shatter the envelope of the possible, creating delightful and mind-expanding works of functional art. Over the past 25 years his designs have found homes in a variety of settings, ranging from organic vineyards and hotel landscapes to premier residences throughout the west coast and Mexico. His present work is with using materials that go beyond concrete-geopolymers, natures way of binding rocks, and most important to him is putting the art back into living. www.biotectures.com Michael is available for personal consulting at a fee. BiotectATsonicnet


Chuck Henderson is founder of fishrock studios a multimedia invention company located near Gualala, California on the rugged Mendocino coast. Among his eclectic creations and software projects is CONICS... a unique system of creating interesting shapes by bending plywood. Conics creates inexpensive roof systems made of plywood (hemp, bamboo or wood), where the plywood is connected following very precise rules so that the resulting structure is a concave and convex multi-conic shell. The plywood acts as structure, sheathing, and roofing. There are endless combinations of conics designs. The form is like nothing else in the architectural lexicon. If you are going to use wood to create a shell, this is probably the most minimal approach possible.


Jeff Ruppert is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado. He has over 15 years of experience in the construction trades from laborer to general contractor to engineer, and he prefers to work on projects that will offer some aspect of reduced impact or consumption of our natural resources. From early 1996 to late 1999 Jeff worked as part founder and owner of a straw bale construction company in Boulder, Colorado, called StrawCrafters. During that time he oversaw and participated in the design and construction of 11 custom straw bale homes and provided professional assistance on well over 50 additional straw bale and natural building projects. To date, Jeff has consulted on well over 400 straw bale and natural building projects around the country. He has given many presentations to groups, such as the local AIA chapters and he sat on the Structural Panel at the 1999 International Straw Bale Conference in Marin, California. He is regarded as one of the leading structural engineers in the field of straw bale construction, and continues to participate and expand the breadth of knowledge and understanding at the national level.


Cissy McAndrew works with United Country Mimbres Realty in Silver City, New Mexico, restoring/remodeling and selling residential, multi-family and ranch properties for over 21 years. She was a licensed general contractor in Utah and has been a Certified Energy Auditor as well as the Energy Conservation Manager and Project Developer for a municipal utility and National Energy Foundation educational organization for 12 years. She was Executive Director of the Silver City Chamber of Commerce and development coordinator for the Regional Hospital. Her education includes a Bachelors of Science degree in Architecture/Planning and a Masters of Science degree in Resource Allocation and Design. She is a certifieid EcoBroker and has much experience finding ways to finance alternative properties.