What is Natural Building?

Natural building means sustainable building at its "greenest."

Natural building utilizes minimally processed, nontoxic materials and systems used appropriately for the climate, site and intended use. It incorporates primarily natural materials rather than high embodied energy, processed commercial materials, with a focus on getting these natural materials from as local a source as possible--ideally, from the building site itself.

Recommended natural building resources

Books and Publications

Looking to remodel instead of building from scratch?

Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House is a book for the rest of us--you know, the people who have to love the house we're living in right this minute, warts and all.

Plenty of sane, real-world advice from straw bale builder Kelly Lerner (whose own house in San Francisco is wonderful but not made of straw). Carol Venolia, co-author and familiar to readers of Natural Home Magazine lets us in on how professionals "green" a "normal" house [built conventionally]. The two get so much right on so many remodeling angles it's hard to imagine any home owner of any kind of building not getting some benefit from this book.



Hand Sculpted House
by Ianto Evans, Michael Smith, Linda Smiley
Natural Building philosophy and practical guide to building with cob.

The Natural Plaster Book
by Cedar Rose, Dan Chiras
Recipes and techniques for dressing your walls inside and out.

The Last Straw Journal
Excellent quarterly covering natural building. The most current info on building with straw bales.

The Cob Web
Informal journal of natural building, particularly cob, produced through Cob Cottage Company.

The Art of Natural Building
by Joseph F. Kennedy, Michael G. Smith, Catherine Wanek
Articles written by various respected practitioners about natural building covering the spectrum of natural building techniques, philosophy, theory and technique.

Alternative Construction: Contemporary Natural Building Methods
edited by Lynn Elizabeth, Cassandra Adams
Textbook like: charts, numbers, technical info etc.

The Cobber’s Companion: How to Build Your Own Earthen Home
by Michael G. Smith
A guide to cob construction.

The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes
by Athena and Bill Steen
Inspiration and insight into design, materials and construction techniques. Beautiful photos.

Serious Straw Bale: A Home Construction Guide for All Climates
by Paul Lacinski, Michel Bergeron
Practical guide to straw bale construction.

The New Straw Bale Home
by Catherine Wanek
Inspiring examples of straw bale homes described with words, photos, and drawings.

Adobe and Rammed Earth Buildings: Design and Construction
by Paul McHenry, Jr.
Photos, drawings and text.


Web sites


Kindra Welch, Austin, TX/NM based design-build. Projects, photos.

Frank Meyer. Austin, TX based musician and natural builder, especially earthen plasters and bamboo construction.

Wildflower seeds and native plants, nursery location in Fredericksburg features beautiful Texas native wood construction.

Home of The Last Straw Journal... excellent newsletter and info on natural building.

Cob Cottage Company, emphasizes small scale owner-built homes, based out of Coquille, Oregon, workshops and information on cob and natural building.

Cob [building] as defined by Wikipedia.

A worldwide directory of natural builders worldwide, and more.

A good introduction to natural building systems, with definitions provided for natural building techniques and various "Ask the Experts" sections.

Fox Maple School for Traditional Building techniques, particularly timber frame, based in Maine, workshops in the New England and other locations.

Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building - Publications, links.

Connect to Michael Smith and the Emerald Earth community in Northern California; workshops, workdays, several completed buildings.

Bill and Athena Steen are authors, builders, instructors who have mastered particularly beautiful earthen finishes. Based in southern Arizona.

Cob in Cornwall, UK professional builders. See their projects, check their new book on cob

Seven Generations Natural Builders. Workshops in Vermont, California, Virginia, and Oregon.

Cob workshops in the south-eastern region, based in Tennessee.

Articles, newsletter and information on natural building. Workshops in Northwest and Mexico; based in Jacksonville, Oregon.

Active non-profit in Portland, Oregon that uses natural building as a means for reviving and activating urban communities.

Canadian professional builders, Cob houses, workshops in British Columbia.

International workshops in natural building.

Home Planet – Various natural building systems, resources, sustainable living, and more.


Ecological Building Network – Technical and code information.

Links to strawbale, earthen, and energy codes for many states.

Development Center for Advanced Technology. Building code and technology issues related to natural building materials and systems.

University of Technology Sydney, Earth Building Research Forum. Links to earth builders, earth building research, earth buildings, and earth building resources.

A worldwide registry of straw bale buildings and other sb construction, with information on insurance and mortgage companies.


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copyright 2008 Design~Build~Live

Our story, vision and mission Goal: Village, School Join us: support and volunteer Contact us
Newsletter subscription & archive Natural Building Colloquium 2007 notesWhat is Natural Building?