natural building materials
What does it take to build truly sustainable houses – the kind people really want and can afford? If you build small and use natural building materials, then most likely you’ll be able to build your own home in a reasonable amount of time for cash.
Step-by-step building instructions for a passive solar greenhouse.
Glimpse a view into the world of cordwood construction. This old-fashioned, natural building technique can inspire you to build an energy-efficient, mortgage-free house of your own.
Recently, I had an epiphany in a building supply center. Even though I’ve been in the building trades for over 35 years and made countless trips to purchase building supplies, this trip was different.
With the right constuction techniques, the straw bales in a straw bale home will last as long as the building does. Check out this expert advice on how to build durable straw bale houses.
Are your granite countertops safe? Have you noticed a strange glow about them? Could they power a nuclear energy plant? Some granite has been found to be radioactive.
Your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a great place to find inexpensive building supplies and appliances, and you can even donate your leftover supplies when your project is complete. Proceeds from your purchases support Habitat for Humanity and future housing projects.
A cordwood building consists of short, round pieces of wood (think firewood) held together with mortar, and there are many advantages to choosing this type of construction.
Save forests, use local materials, build a durable house made of whole trees.
Using low-cost — but durable — earthbag construction, you can create a beautiful green roof.
Here's where you can find or build a press for making compressed earth blocks, and some helpful advice on sealants.
Extolling the virtues of salvaging and reusing building materials
The International Green Construction Code, an International Code Council initiative, released its first set of green building standards today. Standard 189.1 addresses energy efficiency, site sustainability, materials and resources, and more.
Check out this interesting video showing the construction of the Builders without Borders Straw Bale Eco-House.
Eric, Michael and Loren decided to build a winter shelter from natural and re-used materials two winters ago, their first ever natural building experiment. This is an account of that experience that changed their lives in mysterious and unforeseen ways (for the better!).
Learn how to build a straw bale home by downloading this free guide.
This index links to some recent and popular posts related to green building, design, remodeling, and home improvement. The posts cover a broad range of topics, from green products to projects to practices, as well as sustainable communities.
12 of Morton’s buildings have been awarded the National Frame Building Association’s Building of the Year Award for 2011.
Watch this video to learn how a straw bale house goes together from start to finish.
Morton Buildings is a proud ENERGY STAR® partner and also employs LEED Accredited Professionals to assist customers looking to achieve certification.
Whether I'm in the market for something funky or just a few bricks for the garden, I always visit Boulder ReSource first. Check out this expert's tips on mining your local salvage yard for gems.
Jessica features Dan Phillips, Phoenix Commotion founder and builder of fascinating houses made with reclaimed materials.
Green Builder Media’s Vision and ReVision Houses highlight energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, indoor air quality and great new green materials.
Guy and Kay Baker and their three sons spent five years building a small weekend cabin in Alabama from scraps and salvage. When the 1,100-square feet house was complete, they loved it so much they made it their permanent home.
The Phoenix Commotion gives low-income people trade skills and shelter by teaching them to build their own homes--from garbage. You'd be amazed at what can be used to build a house when the desire and commitment exist.
Tart, tangy and tangerine — Nordic Naturals new vitamin gummies.
Hemp seed is a powerful source of protein, Omega-3, vitamins and minerals, and has a delicious nutty flavor!
This May 2014, Be the Change Project is attempting to build a cob house in one day with 50 people.
Straw bale and timber frames are highly compatible, beautiful, and the efficiency and longevity of using these natural building techniques is superior in a cold climate setting.
60 people raised a cob house in one day in Reno, Nevada, with the Be the Change Project and House Alive.
Building Biology advises us to look for a successful history of use when choosing building materials but in our ever changing product-based building environment we seldom have the luxury of evaluating track record. This becomes quickly apparent when vetting new products for client’s homes. I recently called a major manufacturer to find out what was in a new product developed to prevent mold growth on framing lumber.
The bleeding edge of technology is where the true pioneers of their respective industry reside. Adam D. Bearup has had his own impact in the green building field on several fronts, above and below ground.
"Earthen Floors" by Sukita Reay Crimmel and James Thomson provides essential information for creating beautiful floors using natural techniques.
What is the best way to learn cordwood construction? Are there workshops or classes offered?
The fundamental building blocks, descriptions, diagrams and pictures of best practices cordwood buildings.
Learn how to build using the cordwood construction technique. Author Richard Flatau recommends taking a workshop or building a practice building.
The best time for selling your cordwood home. Tips, websites, suggestions, and what to do BEFORE you build.
An introduction to Paula Baker-Laporte's future readers : about Paula, multiple chemical sensitivities, Building Biology and the role of green building in health.
The Architecture 2030 Challenge for Products asks designers and builders to spec materials with lower carbon footprints.
Houses take a lifetime to pay off these days, and even a prosaic shed, barn or coop requires a heavy investment of money, time, skilled labour and imported materials. For thousands of years, though, people around the world used an ancient technique to build homes and other structures quickly, using nothing but local material and simple, easily learned skills.
Though he didn’t know exactly how, Cadmon Whitty decided to substantially retrofit his older home with straw bales, making it more energy-efficient, more valuable, and more aesthetically attractive in the process — all on a shoestring budget.
A video documenting the "One Day Cob House" build in Reno, Nevada.
Cadmon Whitty decided to substantially retrofit his older home with straw bales, beginning with rewiring a home, making it more energy-efficient, more valuable, and more aesthetically attractive in the process — all on a shoestring budget.
The full team from thePOOSH.org attended Over the Moon Festival last autumn in the UK and built a beautiful bender as a temporary shelter area and stall.
According to the USDA, consumers can feel secure in the accuracy of the biobased claim and can make better informed purchasing decisions.
To me, the most important features of a sustainable building are not its technological wonders but its simple design features: common-sense strategies that should be incorporated whether the building becomes LEED certified, Energy Star certified, or is just trying to be environmentally friendly.
Share your thoughts about natural building methods including straw bale building, cordwood construction, earth building and more.
This post is about winterizing a colony of bees naturaly, using ideas and tips that we at BeeLanding have learned from nature.
Buying "natural" cereal could get you a bowl full of GMOs. To keep genetically modified ingredients off your family's table, buy organic.
For an investment of less than $10,000 and about a week of labor, you could have a custom workshop, barn, garden shed or office.
I had heard there are thousands of new earthen houses in Thailand. That really amazed me, so I set out to learn the details about the modern earth building movement in Thailand.
Using herbs and food to dye Easter eggs gives them beautiful, earthy color--without scary chemicals. And it's surprisingly easy.
Low-fired brick is a very sustainable building material with low embodied energy. They are made with locally procured clay and fired with rice hulls, a by-product of growing rice. Brickyards are located near urban areas to minimize transport costs.
How to go from buying everything at Wally World to growing organic vegetables, raising livestock, building an efficient home, and a Do-It-Yourself, self-sufficient lifestyle.
NaturalNews readers overwhelmingly chose Monsanto as the world's Most Evil Corporation.
The countdown to savings is on now at Morton Buildings.
Here's what it means when a building department requires "sealed drawings" of your project.
Get an introduction to Building Biology, the science and philosophy of healthy and ecological building that originated in Germany 60 years ago.
Learn how to create a yoga studio that enhances your practice and your health.
Some examples of passive solar design applied to homes in the southeast, where cooling, as well as heating, is a concern.
I love my two-story log cabin, which combines recycled and an array of green building materials.
There is an ideal relative humidity range for our health and that is somewhere between 35% and 55%. In modern life we have introduced many new sources of moisture into our homes. Daily showers, laundry, cooking and dishwashing tend to create concentrated bursts of humidity. Because conventional construction can tolerate very little increase in humidity without condensation/mold problems moisture from these sources must be mechanically sucked out of the home.
There are multiple philosophies that describe what characterizes a green home, but all have low energy loads in common.
We're using earthbags and straw bales to construct an efficient, cost-effective, and roomy earthbag root cellar.
This variation on the (endlessly adaptable) traditional Mongolian yurt design was inspired by the work of master yurt builder, educator, and homesteader Bill Coperthwaite (who was also a neighbor and friend of the Nearings). This low-cost yurt design combines basketry, wattle and daub, and basic lashing (similar to skin-on-frame boats). Not much more than a glorified tent, this DIY yurt made from sticks, string and mud makes a very comfortable, durable and beautiful tiny house, studio, or meditation space.
A company called From War to Peace makes “peace bronze” out of disarmed nuclear missile systems. The bronze is then transformed into cool items such as jewelry and bottle openers.
Building housing projects in developing regions is extremely rewarding, but also quite challenging. It’s prudent to draw ideas from as many resources as possible to improve the process. The following guidelines have proven effective.
The roundwood truss system described here enables DIYers to build their own trusses at very low cost. You can gather truckloads of poles from national forests, enough for several small houses, for the cost of one $25 firewood permit.
Here is yet another possible building project presented to you which requires no formal training, very little money, and techniques/methods that anyone can use. This blog intends to inspire you to take on a natural building project like this one. Don´t have fear if this is your first time working with these techniques and materials — it often for us also! Swattlesfield Campground is frequented by many kinds of people for various reasons. The owner, Jonathan, wanted to introduce some activity which would draw people together. We had the perfect idea: pizza! Food, especially food that requires waiting, has a tendency to attract people. And once humans have a good reason to be in the same place, the rest (socialization) has a tendency to just work.
Green builder Jim Gooley gutted an Airstream Trailer and renovated it with cork flooring, clay plaster walls, bamboo countertops and other eco-friendly materials.
Hand crafted from recycled materials, each item one of a kind.
From a home built into a cliff to a home built out from laundry soap boxes, these homes prove how fun and satisfying it is to push the conventional edge. It's your house. Create whatever you want.
Take a lesson from Southerners, who know a thing or two about keeping cool naturally. These homes take advantage of old-fashioned and cutting-edge passive cooling techniques to stay temperate even during hot Southern summers.
Chickens rock. One way to make the chicken experience even more rewarding is to build your own coop. Here's a description of one coop and some ideas for you.
A lookout tower home, which features reclaimed materials, connects its homeowner with her past, present and future.
The Organic Materials Review Institute was formed by organic certifiers back in 1997 to focus exclusively on the products and materials used by farmers.
A simple technique for using salvaged tiles to make beautiful floors.
Editor-in-Chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence gets a great dose of green--and cheeseburgers--in Austin, Texas.
Robyn finds enthusiasm for and interest in green building during a recent trip to the Carolinas.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors endorses mandatory green building codes for all new commercial buildings nationwide.
Our favorite natural homes of 2010 range in size and grandiosity, from a 280-square-foot mountain cottage to an urban warehouse-cum-artists’-loft. Every one of them can teach us a lot about living green.
For part three of our 2010 Predictions series, the experts predict that consumers will demand—and create—healthier, more efficient homes. Cool by us.
A Christmas present leads editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence to ponder the benefits of green-building initiatives in Arizona.
Expect to see more modular homes, a boom in the green remodeling business and a ton more “green” products when it comes to green building trends in 2010—and be prepared to ask a lot more questions.
The Living Building Challenge provides builders with information and a forum for sharing advice in an effort to promote the highest building standards.
For the past year, I’ve been chronicling the progress of a green-built home here in Boulder, Colorado, where I live, via this blog and accompanying videos. Watching the project unfold has been enlightening for many reasons, not least of which is the opportunity to see firsthand many of the cool technologies we read about and hear about. Sometimes that entails a little sacrifice.
A listing of companies that offer green dwellings in the form of modular, prefab, manufactured, compact, or mobile structures. These days, many such options are available that are not only green, but also beautiful, well-made, and often low-cost.
At the Mother Earth News Fair, I always enjoy speaking with fellow farmers and gardeners about inputs, organic standards and sound practices in the field. At the OMRI booth, we always provide free OMRI Products Lists of approved input materials, to help you find the right fertilizer or livestock feed additive and keep your farm or garden truly organic .
The shopping website Hipcycle offers beautiful upcycled products for your home and garden.
Green Earth Technologies is a “totally green” clean tech company that combines sustainable, American sourced, bio-based ingredients with proprietary technologies shaped around the four ideologies of being GREEN: biodegradable, renewable, recyclable and environmentally safe.
Broadening your understanding of mold and mildew in the house will help you to eliminate this hazard to health and home value.
Cap off your Hemp History Week celebrations by making hemp soap. Hemp oil contains essential fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fatty acids known for their excellent emollient and lubricating properties.
Here are some tips for making a new garage more environmentally friendly.
Mayors from across the country have created an alliance to facilitate green buildings for K-12 schools.
Homeowners beware. Your drywall could be poisoning your home. Officials believe that since 2001, drywall imported from China has contained high levels of sulfur that could be leaking into homes and other buildings.
The U.S. Green Building Council singles out the Forest Stewardship Council as the only trusted wood certifier.
Yes, unreinforced masonry is a risk in earthquake zones. Here’s how you can find the earthquake risk for your area, plus tips for making adobe houses more stable.
In response to last week’s post, we received a letter asking why the forest products industry would be considered a “foe” to green buildings. “I can understand why plastics and vinyl doesn’t make sense, but aren’t wood products exactly the kind of material that qualifies as green?” this reader asked.
Sustainsia’s compact, green-built work pod could solve my office needs.
Kids love to build forts and space ships, and create secret places to dream and imagine.
We Westerners tend to think we’ve got it all going on when it comes to green living in general, and green building in particular.
The Boulder, Colorado, green-building program will get a makeover for its second year.
As we continue to watch a zero energy home get built in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, I’m digging the opportunity to learn more about building materials that I’ve seen in finished form but never in process. I like the
BuildingGreen.com founder and Environmental Building News editor Alex Wilson wins Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Housing.
Natural Home is ahead of the most recent trends, highlighted in the National Association of Remodeling Industry’s builder poll.
Learn what it means to have LEED-certified home and about the LEED for Homes program that started in 2008.
This week green building author, architect and Natural Home columnist Carol Venolia dispenses advice on green remodeling during workshops sponsored by Design~Build~Live in Austin, Texas.
The past couple of weeks have been heartening for me. First of all, I’m always ridiculously happy to see the month of March end. No matter what’s going on in my life, the onset of April’s longer days and the sudden burst of plum blossoms in my back yard causes a tectonic shift in my mood. I can’t help it. I’m just completely in love with spring.
Nordic Naturals introduces Vitamin D3 Gummies, the delicious, chewable, wild berry gummy that provides 1,000 I.U. of vitamin D in each serving and is sourced from cholecalciferol, the natural form of vitamin D preferred for optimal absorption. The pectin-based product is gelatin free and does not contain artificial coloring, flavoring, or preservatives.
Bed bugs are taking over America. You can prevent them naturally.
I’m a little bit obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. And so, as I promised to discuss the topic of changing our name back to Natural Home this week, I just can’t help myself from weaving in references to my favorite film. (Some days, it’s all about keeping myself amused.)
Use plants from the forest, field and desert as natural dyes to color your fine fabric creations.
The night sky of Monday, August 11 and early Tuesday the 12th will light up with a spectacular meteor shower. It will be well worth Tuesday's fatigue.
Carrington Farms, the creators of delicious 100 percent organic, non-genetically modified health food products, continues to reach outside of the box to provide healthy flax seed blends and cooking oils that are not only good for consumers but are affordable and taste great!
The newest articles of Natural Home are in. See what's inside.
Steve explains why building a scale model is such a good way to design homestead structures, and how to do it.
For one week, BuildingGreen is offering a free download of an insulation guide, available with a 30-day trial of BuildingGreen Suite.
Treat your building professional as you would want to be treated--and more great advice from contractors and designers who have seen it all.
The DOE and NREL released a study outlining ways to build grocery stories and medium-sized businesses that need 50 percent less energy.
Learn why it is helpful to have a group of fellow homesteaders, then start a group of your own in your local community.
See green building in action! The third and final season of the Greensburg TV series is scheduled to begin on May 2, 2010.
A review of the Husqvarna hatchet.
A review of hammers of friend Jack Fulton.
Learn more about this building project, which utilizes SIP technology combined with an unusual geometry.
Natural Home editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence explains how the new energy and climate legislation that creates opportunities in green building.
Washington, D.C., Nevada and New Mexico see the most LEED-certified green building per capita in 2010.
There are some things that you just aren’t going to wash very often, like your curtains, couch cushions, and probably even your favorite jeans. To spare the air, concoct a simple essential oil-infused linen spray, and spritz away until your definition of what “clean” smells like shifts permanently.
Store-bought deoderants contain aluminum and other harmful substances that find their way into your bloodstream. Try this recipe for natural homemade deodorant that uses baking soda with coconut oil and essential oil to create a effective and safe alternative.
From shampoo and lotion to wood polish and drain cleaner, you’ll be surprised at how many common household products contain potentially hazardous ingredients. Here’s how to identify problem products and find the best alternatives to buy — or save a little money by making your own.
These natural cold and flu remedies will help you build up your immune system and reduce the duration and discomfort of colds and flu.
To make liquid hand soap all you need is a bar of soap and a cheese grater. What could be easier?
Liberty LNG is looking to industrialize the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New York and New Jersey. Learn how you can get involved to stop LNG and protect the ocean.
New Clear Door Dehydrators coming from Excalibur Dehydrators.
What is true sustainability? In this post, Matthew Stein explores the definition of what it takes to make a world that is truly sustainable.
Mama Chia organic chia seeds are infused with delicious fruits and vegetables to create a convenient, fun and tasty snack for active souls of all ages.
During tough economic times, local university not only survives, but thrives. Bastyr University announced today it will open a new campus in San Diego, CA, with plans for the first class to begin in Fall 2012.
Steuart Laboratories manufactures and markets several dozen herb-based healing and pain products for both the human and livestock markets.
Simone Swan built her off-the-grid domed and vaulted home in Presidio, Texas, as a model of how financially and thermally efficient adobe can be. For $50 a square foot, she built a masterpiece. She says you can, too.
How to build a greenhouse of used sliding-glass patio doors that is warmer and less expensive than plastic, and keeps out burrowing animals.
Building community through sharing work and food.
Check out these renewable-energy courses to see if there’s an Evergreen class for you.
Michael Morley's SIPs home project is underway. On Tuesday, March 2, the excavator dug trench footings in at the site.
Just so you don't think it's all fun and games living out here in the country....
This blog post is a description of starting a building project using Structural Insulated Panels, also known as SIPs.
Researchers at the University of Bath are all set to test the efficiency of the HemPod, a building made from a hemp-lime composite.
Michael Morley is making progress on the SIPs home he's building in Lawrence, Kan. The roof is in place and the shell is essentially done.
Know of a group that's doing great work to support your community or have a community-building idea of your own? If you live in the Northeast United States, Green Mountain Coffee and Ashoka's Changemakers are holding the "Revelation to Action" contest to find and help fund the most innovative ideas to bolster communities in the Northeast states.
Build a simple backyard barbecue pit with no more than a shovel and a good cover panel for your next barbecue party.
Small house builder Rich Daniels seeks to cluster 100 homes under 400 square feet in a former sawmill.
Michael Morley's SIPs home project is underway, and despite an unexpected snowstorm, progress has been made on the concrete slab and the risers.
Cam describes the building of his chicken coop.
Learn to build your own Hand-Crafted Log Home
Build your own wood-fired earth oven for baking fluffier, more flavorful bread and other baked delights.
Michael Morley has an exciting update on the house he's building in Lawrence, Kan. The dome is starting to go up!
President Obama plans to help earn the White House LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Dan Chiras announces a four-day energy workshop he'll be teaching in Kansas City, Mo.
Most people have at least heard of Habitat for Humanity. But when I dug a little deeper and sifted through the ol’ letters in the attic of the house (so to speak), I uncovered some interesting details.
Recycling building materials from other sources is a great way to cut the cost and reduce the environmental impact of your DIY projects. We want to know where readers go to find reclaimed or used building materials, and how they use these materials in home projects.
I had no idea putting dirt in a box was this difficult.
Building a closet from lumber milled from standing dead trees.
Selecting a tree, reducing it to logs, milling out the logs into lumber and using that lumber for specific projects.
What’s with glycerin? It’s a soap-making byproduct with antibacterial properties, but it’s often made with animal fat derivatives, which isn’t really our thing. So, we figured out how to make our own veggie version with coconut oil, opening up a whole world of kitchen pantry beauty concoctions.
This stone fascia is a practical solution for wildfire prevention. It's attractive and uses local natural resources.
I can deal with a lot of things- floods, frosts, Japanese beetles, but one thing I can't stand is fire ants. Living in the north for a good portion of my life, I was close to unaware of their existence until I moved to the south. Then, everywhere I looked in my yard I saw the same thing; enormous mounds of orange clay filled with irritating stinging ants.
Like many things in nature, the catalpa tree and worm have a special one-on-one relationship.
July is UV Safety Month. Stay safe in the sun with these tips.
The quake that struck near Prague, Oklahoma on November 5, 2011, was the biggest ever recorded in the state. Now geologists are warning Oklahomans that quakes may become a regular phenomenon in the state. And the problem is apparently connected to natural-gas operations.
Summer fun gives way to windy, cold weather and before you know it, you've got winter dry skin – chapped, red and itchy hands. Use this easy-to-make DIY lotion; it’s a remarkable remedy for dry, cracked hands.
A first-time momma responds with gratefulness when her desires for a natural, vaginal birth take another direction.
These all-natural approaches can ease TMJ symptoms and give you relief.
Get plenty of these vitamins to fight fatigue and feel your best.
I do not know that there is a natural birth movement. I do not know what a doula is. I do not know about pre-natal yoga. The only thing I do know at this point is that there is no way in hell that anyone is sticking a huge needle into my spine and no one is going to be cutting anything around me unless it is an umbilical cord.
This post will take a look at how we transplant vegetable seedlings in our certified organic greenhouses, especially tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.
Learning how to graft tomatoes yourself not only saves money but gives you unlimited options for what varieties you choose to graft. With a little practice, you can become skilled at this worthwhile technique.
A basic recipe for making compost tea.
The cordwood chapel at Kinstone Academy was built over three years and has many natural motifs in the walls.
Clean with vodka for a spic-and-span house and less of a headache in the morning! You can use the alcohol to freshen your laundry, remove mold and mildew, and even repel bugs. Vodka kills bacteria and dries clear and odor-free, making it an ideal addition to your cleaning cupboard.
Backcasting into the future: a powerful tool for developing creative pathways towards a sustainable world and a bright, positive future for Planet Earth!
Each year, the success rate for hens hatching and raising chicks at Rancho Cappuccino contines to increase, and it seems there's more than luck at play. Read about watching natural selection in action on the farm.
Ed and Bruce share their experiences with homesteading and self-sufficiency in a rural setting. This segment is on using natural resources around the homestead.
A step-by-step guide, and benefits to growing sprouted grain fodder for your livestock as a natural alternative to commercial feed or as a pasture supplement.
Making tallow container candles out of bison fat.
How to make tallow candles from bison suet.
Follow this advice for avoiding and treating bee stings.
Making good decisions on how we use our land. Keeping it natural.
There's more reason than ever to be prepared for natural disasters, no matter where you live!
Goats are a great way to get rid of weed problems while also reducing the use of chemicals and fossil fuels.
Keep your skin protected from the sun as well as from toxic chemicals that can potentially cause severe health risks. These reviews of all-natural sunscreens explain which ingredients to avoid when choosing a sunscreen.
Some of the most amazing natural phenomena to see this autumn. Try to check them out in person if you can!
This two-day, alternative building workshop featuring energy expert Dan Chiras will be held March 13-14, 2010 in St. Louis.
Live in a dome home in this week’s Photo of the Week. Remember to submit your own pictures, and you could be the next Photo of the Week!
Making your own cleaning products using vinegar, baking soda and water is healthy, easy--and cheap. Learn how to whip up your own cleaners using foods you already have in your kitchen cupboard.
Ginseng benefits reach far and wide—both Asian and American ginseng help boost energy and vitality, improve concentration, prevent the flu, plus so much more.
Chinese worker Chen Shun Qun says she is paid and treated fairly at the factory that makes Natural Home bamboo kitchen tools.
Natural Home chose bamboo for its kitchenware line because it's both sustainable and beautiful.
Some of the nastiest chemicals we bring into our homes are used to clean ovens and drains--and they're not necessary. Learn how to clean your entire kitchen using vinegar, baking soda and a little salt and lemon juice. You'll love the results!
My grandmother taught me everything I need to know about keeping my house clean--without chemicals.
Clear your home's air naturally for better health and well being.
When a group of graduation students began designing a home on the Navajo reservation in southeast Utah, they knew keeping it cool in the desert would be an issue. Their innovative solution--a Windcatcher--is the first of its kind in the area.
If you're searching for kids' playhouse plans, look no further — this whimsical cob building provides an inexpensive child's oasis with a natural cooling system.
I decided to build double 2-by-4 walls to achieve 14-inch thick super-insulated walls. This is just one way of achieving the high R-values for net zero energy homes.
Did you know that a dirty filter in your HVAC equipment can reduce its efficiency by up to 20 percent? Didyou also know that it is recommended to check your filter every month? Don’t despair!
Everything you need to know about avoiding problems when you build or remodel your own house - learn from the mistakes of others and make fewer of your own.
Dan Chiras discusses the long-term benefits of building a green home.
Earlier this month I visited Greensburg, Kan., and toured a few of its many green buildings. Here's what I found.
If you are planning to build a healthy home your first step is to find a site that will support health and here are some helpful tips about siting
A homesteading family undertakes Extreme Home Makeover: Goat Edition at the possible expense of their sanity.
I’m curious about building a straw bale house. What are some good resources to consult?
Watch this video to learn how to build tiny home for just $2,000.
A new building insulation guide is available from NAIMA Canada to assist homeowners in choosing the right insulation for new building and DIY home renovation projects.
Website links to earthbag building projects.
Announcing our new webcam that will be showing the latest flock of new born chicks in all their cute and feathery glory.
Talking about how to make a DIY electric fence wire holder and how we got a tailgate transplant for around 150 dollars and some signs of spring.
A key choice was what type of house to build. We aren't in Texas more than a few weeks a year until we make our final move back. We wanted a structure we could enclose to protect the interior from the elements and yet build in stages as time and money allow.
Building a small cordwood cafe in Colorado. A fun project for everyone!
See how a structure made from cob, a form of earthen construction, handles a laboratory shake test.
Having a “green home” means lots of different things. What does it mean to you?
Experiences building a water-saving bath house out of salvaged logs.
Congress is about to pass legislation to ease the worry of homeowner debt, but it's also possible to build your dream home without a mortgage.
BuildingGreen’s 2010 Top 10 Green Building Products list includes a low-flow toilet, composite decking, a high-performing wall system and other products that conserve energy and resources.
GO Home, built by architecture and construction firm G•O Logic LLC, received the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) 2011 LEED for Homes Project of the Year Award.
We heard from a variety of experts about the type and number of batteries to use in our DIY solar setup. Meanwhile, we checked in with the garden and bees.
Today as I was researching Habitat for Humanity, I learned how far its helping hand reaches. Even more interesting to me, though, was that Habitat continues to build in such war-torn counties as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Made from bamboo, wood and grass seed, this tiny house could be our future.
Robert Maxwell explains how to build your own limestone foundation for almost no money.
The Solar Energy Tour is coming to communities all over the U.S. the first weekend of October — learn how to attend an event, or create one yourself.
Talking about the excitement of Anna's new book cover that we got to preview from the publisher this past week and the anxiety of our new born chicks as they go out into the big world. Also have some details on how to make your own cleft graft.
Are you looking for professional training as a solar installer or retailer? Check out this list of workshops available at the American Solar Energy Society's 2009 Conference.
Michael Morley will post regular updates about his progress building a unique green home with structural insulated panels (SIPs). Here, he discusses options for installing a colored concrete floor, and considering whether to install a solar hot water system.
Our experiments with an Alaskan small log mill attached to our chainsaw had variable results making planks from downed trees.
Finally, we start to take shape.
The last week of the month has been a busy one with are preparations for the ending of winter and the start of a new growing season. We've got some details on a new cover crop and why we choose and simple composting toilet system compared to others.
We finally see walls and a loft floor.
Moving to a different climate and gardening zone can be a challenge, especially in the high desert. The best approach is to start small and add plenty of organic material.
Find out which states and countries have the greatest number of LEED Platinum certified projects, and where the Platinum projects are located. Plus, a list of some LEED Platinum rated homes and residential buildings, with links to case studies.
Jim and Julie are starting their homestead in Texas while still living in Australia. Managing the project by remote control is the challenge, and they are learning as they go. This is an adventure of faith and confidence.
A BIG issue in everyone’s lives today is increasing fuel costs. The seriousness and scope of our energy problems calls for an all-out effort for sustainable solutions, starting as soon as possible.
Kick toxic chemicals to the curb and make your own natural lotion using just a few ingredients. Making homemade lotion is an easy, fun and creative process.
Moms, protect your baby’s health with this safe, homemade sunscreen.
Need gift ideas? Check out these 10 natural beauty products, including lip balm, face wash, body wash, nail polish and more.
Many wood finishes contain toxic solvents or heavy-metal drying agents. Learn which nontoxic wood finishes are best to use on decks, fences and unfinished, wood-sided homes.
Margarita Sikorskaia's bright and bold paintings tell the intimate story of parenthood through the lense of passion and love.
Processed foods contain a variety of chemical preservatives that have been linked to serious medical conditions. Here’s what to look for and how to avoid food preservatives.
This is the story of how I learned to make yucca rope.
A recipe for a grease patty that doesn't use hydrogenated oils.
Ilene White Freedman’s goat is in labor, reminding Ilene of her own natural childbirth experiences.
While you may already look for eco-friendly organic wine when you select a bottle, you're probably not aware of the environmental implications of opting for a wine closed with natural cork in lieu of a less sustainable synthetic stopper.
Fleas and ticks can bring severe itching, allergic reactions, discomfort, and even serious diseases (such as lyme disease) to your pets, so it’s important to protect your pets from them. However, studies have found that many common flea and tick control/treatment products aren’t just toxic to those bugs; they can actually poison your pets, as well. Find out which ingredients and products to avoid, and some safer alternatives to use.
Solving the mystery of finding broken shards of china and pottery in an old garden. Discovering the history of the land and its first settlers.
This blog post tells you how to set up a drip irrigation system in a raised bed garden.
This blog post takes a look at some of the methods we have developed over the last 25 years growing vegetable seedlings in our certified organic greenhouses. This time we take a look at the conditions required for healthy seedling growth.
This blog post shares some of the simple techniques learned through many years of experience by someone who grows vegetable seedlings for a living.
With 1/3 of the population of the US under a tornado watch today, these tornado facts, myths, and survival tips could save a lot of lives!
Moving is stressful, but it's not an excuse to forget your carbon footprint. Here are some ways to make your move as eco-friendly as possible.
This blog takes a look at the steps taken to propagate lavender by taking cuttings.
My brief discription of sustainable beekeeping
Natural products research firm Compass Naturals predicts shoppers will get savvy; rebel against chemicals, over-packaging, GMOs and animal cruelty; and grow more of their own food.
Tips on how to prepare yourself for a natural disaster during September's National Preparedness Month!
A ladybug reminds us to pause, take a look around, and appreciate our surroundings.
At first glance George Siemon and Doc Hatfield don’t appear to have a whole lot in common. But George and Doc and a bunch of conspirators are revolutionizing agriculture: they are putting consumers back in touch with the people who grow their food.
Faith Starr of Living Green With Faith will present workshops on weeds and wild plants at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, September 24-25, 2011 in Seven Springs, Pa.
A recycled cork yoga mat prototype gets a rigorous workout as one editor puts it through the ropes in her quest for more eco-friendly Zen.
Alka-Seltzer can give your cleaning routine a little extra fizz. Try it for unclogging drains and cleaning toilets.
Tips on how to control soil erosion and help protect one of Earth's most important natural resources.
Check out this natural All-Purpose Cleaner recipe.
emerginC, a leading professional skincare collection, has just launched a natural yet serious results-oriented collection aptly named Scientific Organics.
Perfect for an evening of socializing out on the deck or an intimate meal at a table for two, GoodLight candles keep the mood bright and the air clean and are now available both online and in stores nationwide.
Crunchy goodness in a brown paper bag.
Erin Harwood and Eloyce O'Connor of the Garden Delights CSA and Herb Farm will present a workshop on natural remedies at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
U.S. energy consumers will rely more on natural gas and renewables and less on imports in 2011. Coal remains dominant.
You don't need to rely on toxic chemicals to clean your house. Opt for natural homemade cleaners or nontoxic options such as Bon Ami.
Learn three simple tips for making the most of small gardening spaces, including hanging plants and advice for selecting seed varieties.
The very first thing I did after closing on my new house was meet with an expert in natural methods for eliminating brown recluse spiders.
Many beauty products contain harmful chemicals, but figuring out which are the worst can be difficult. Natural Home editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence clues you in to the top five chemical ingredients to avoid when buying summer skin care products, and helps you learn about a few natural alternatives.
Let's quash, once and for all, the notion that only harmful chemicals can kill germs and bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract are natural antibacterials that keep your home clean--and safeguard your family's health.
The Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies offers scientific backing to herbal and natural medicine.
Dr. Jaclyn Chasse, naturopathic physician, will present workshops on natural menopause options, building a natural first aid kit and detoxing at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR, an annual sustainability festival, September 24-25 in Seven Springs, PA.
Quirky behaviors involving shaving, moisturizing, socks and water conservation!
Are you ready for the kinds of severe weather that could impact the area where you live? National Severe Weather Preparedness Week takes place from Mar. 3-9, 2013. This is a great time for you and your family to “Be a Force of Nature” by learning the importance of planning for severe weather events and practicing how and where to take shelter before severe weather strikes.
Realize that DIY inspiration is just a click away by checking out these great home remodeling blogs.
In this video, learn how the production and consumption of stuff affects the environment and community health.
Jeremy Galvan of Maryland Families for Safe Birth will present a workshop on midwives and home births at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, September 24-25, 2011 in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.
GloryBee Foods announces today that the company adds Aunt Patty's Organic Creamed Coconut to its selection of natural foods.
Erin McIntosh of Mountain Rose Herbs and Victoria Miller of Canyon Creek Farms will present workshops on calming herbs and how to keep turkeys at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
Skip the packaging and synthetic chemicals and learn how to make your own, cold-processed shampoo bars.
Michelle Corbett's grandmother and great-grandmother taught her to use a natural compost consisting of eggshells and coffee grounds.
A few words describing how I came to Dancing for Birth and why I believe every woman should dance through her birth.
The fire moon shows up every year when the forest fires start up. Maggie Bonham has some recommendations for preparing to evacuate with animals.
K.C. Compton takes a glance at more than two dozen trends that are shaping our future, which are documented in the Worldwatch Institute’s latest publication, "Vital Signs, Volume 21."
Sipping on medicinal herbal tea is one of the best steps you can take to shorten the duration of illness when the symptoms of a cold, sore throat, or other upper respiratory infection begin.
Millions of people suffer from mental illness and depend on psychiatric drugs to get them through the day. Conventional treatment may block the symptoms but do nothing to address the underlying cause. There are 5 common physical causes of mental illness.
One of the newest apps for green car owners is Cleaner and Greener Fuels, which locates refueling stations for alternative fuel vehicles.
Whip olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice into a cheap, effective polish for wood furniture.
One small brown bat can eat several thousand insects each night. Install a bat house and invite them to feast in your yard.
Discover some of the properties of essential oils, along with some tips for cleaning with them.
You can get your whole house fresh and shiny clean with just five ingredients: lemons, vinegar, baking soda, tea tree oil and salt.
The U.S. Green Building Council's Project of the Year is a small, urban home built for $100 per square foot.
A Christmas Wish for all, inspired by the magic of the honey bee.
A TED talk by Christy Hemenway of Gold Star Honeybees: Making the Connection: Honeybees, Food, and You.
Matt and Kelly Grocoff keep cool in Michigan by taking advantage of their 110-year-old home's natural ventilation strategies. It's as easy as opening a couple of strategically placed windows.
Everything you need to know about avoiding problems when you build or remodel your own house. Learn from the mistakes of others and make fewer of your own.
Courses in solar energy taken through The Evergreen Institute now apply toward the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s site assessor certificates.
Enacting a law requiring builders to orient new homes toward the sun would drastically reduce home energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Although forced air is the most common form of home heat in North America it is far from ideal. This article explains why Building Biology regards the masonry heater as the ultimate heating system for health, comfort and ecology.
“Green,” sustainable homes that deliver low cost of ownership.
Frontier Natural Products Co-op announced today that it has been awarded LEED Silver certification for a major renovation at its manufacturing facility.
Discount pricing on all Morton buildings now through February.
Americans continue to believe that green homes make a difference--but they need to be more affordable.
Michael Morley is posting regular updates about his progress building a unique green home with structural insulated panels (SIPs). Here he talks about HVAC work and installing windows.
Discussion of some of the first log building tools you will need to build a log home — debarking spuds and drawknives.
Finally getting the barn roof repair project started was a big deal for us as well as a few other things that are worth checking out if you are interested in modern homesteading.
Dan Chiras of The Evergreen Institute invites readers to attend a one-day conference on the future of building in Wichita, Kansas.
Willis Tower in Chicago, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, gets new windows that could generate up to 2 megawatts of solar power.
New photos of Lloyd House's Leaf House
Custom Curve is the first glass window system with a structurally engineered framework that follows the curved wall of the yurt.
To build Finca Exotica, a sustainable resort on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, the owners took advantage of plentiful native bamboo, kept the footprint small and let buildings unfold organically.
Soil Life is an all-natural, organic blend of microbes designed to enhance the nutritive value of soil in all growing conditions.
A discussion of three power tools to prep your logs or timbers for building.
The Lehigh Valley Green Builders is presenting its third annual Green Home and Building Expo.
After Greensburg was destroyed in 2007, the citizens of Greensburg, with the help of GreenTown, have invested in green building for a better tomorrow.
The work invovlve in tranforming a house that wastes energy into a house that's 50%-95% more energy efficient is called a "deep energy retrofit." We need to find ways to do more of these to save energy, money and the environment.
Finca Exotica is ideal for travelers who want to immerse themselves in the Osa Peninsula's bounty and learn about permaculture and sustainable building.
Humanure management for maximum nutrient secuestration and minimum resource loss.
Before winter's chill starts to compromise comfort and elevate home energy bills, there are 5 energy-saving upgrades you can complete.
If you want to own property, you have to find a way to finance buying land. Here, one couple explains how they took out a mortgage to build a home and purchase land.
When you get home, go to your hot water heater, remove the cover and turn it down to 120 degrees (sometimes labeled “hot” as opposed to “very hot”).
What do farm-raised salmon, your typical DEET bug spray, and non-filtered drinking water all have in common? These are frequently encountered sources of toxins which in excess could be threatening your health, but following a detox cleanse will keep you protected and restore energy!
Using an old-world technique, Russians are growing their own organic crops -- and it's working.
The answer to your burning question, “Why am I tired all the time?” may simply be this: your body’s ability to manage stress effectively by means of the adrenal glands has been compromised. Chronic or excessive stress disrupts the normal functioning of the body’s stress response system. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of this disruption.
Many people don’t know that most HVAC systems don’t produce more or less heating or cooling based on the room temperature – they simply blow air for longer.
Detoxification is a powerful tool for treating fatigue and helping your body handle toxins—everything from car exhaust to junk food. Give your body a natural energy and health boost using this simple liver detox program.
It's surprisingly easy to figure out how many carbon dioxide emissions come from producing the electricity for your home, or burning a full tank of gas. Check out this carbon calculator, or find out how to do a quick ballpark estimate.
Bee stings are so painful you feel like a burning torch has touched your skin! To get fast relief, here are 8 natural bee sting treatment options you can use at home.
Tiny plastic beads in cosmetics are found in the Great Lakes, putting fish and human health at risk.
Grass fed beef benefits for health are remarkable indeed; but are they fabulous enough to justify the extra cost? And how do you know you are buying the real thing?
Make your own “ginger bug” and natural soda from nothing more than ginger root, sugar, water, and fruit juice. The ginger bug, soda starter culture of healthy bacteria, consumes the natural sugars present in fruit juice and causes carbonation to make a fun experiment and soda pop you don’t need to be afraid to give your children.
Infants and children are susceptible to the dangers of aspartame side effects.
This time of year, many are intent on healthier eating, but find it hard to find healthy foods that actually taste good. Use these 3 delicious healthy lunch recipes for a mealtime you can truly enjoy!
Natural Home bamboo kitchen tools are made without formaldehyde or other harmful additives, through a process that eliminates waste.
It's easy to make your own air freshener spray. You'll avoid chemicals and delight in the fresh smell.
Keep your family healthy by paying close attention to your home's 10 germiest places.
In the third in a series on potential toxins and chemicals to avoid during pregnancy, Natural Home & Garden Editor Jessica Kellner discusses the dangers associated with use of retinol in skin care products.
The L41 is a mass-produced, superefficient home designed to provide affordable shelter for everyone.
Simran Sethi comes to terms with getting rid of the mouse in her home.
Homestead skills of yogurt-making and bread-baking increase your independence from grocery store aisles and international food conglomerates.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers recently named dishwashing formula as their most desired DIY cleaner, so we’ve rounded up some easy and inexpensive dish de-griming recipes for your automatic dishwasher or for washing by hand.
Soapmaker Anne-Marie Faiola will present a workshop on soapmaking and Dr. Andrew Iverson will presenet a workshop on natural health at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, June 4-5, 2011 in Puyallup, Wash.
With all the recent panic about radiation contamination, our loyal BõKU customers felt safer, and more protected, with BõKU's nutrient dense support.
Simran Sethi balances her love of nature with her fear of mice in her home.
Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger of Green Heron Tools will present a workshop on the principles of good body mechanics at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, September 24-25, 2011 in Seven Springs, Pa.
Simran Sethi writes about the importance of eco-friendly mattresses, bed frames, and bedding.
In Arizona, an intrepid desert gardener harvests rainwater to grow his own food. A Missouri garden writer feeds his soil to feed himself. In Texas, a garden wall encourages community. These are a few of my favorite gardens.
According to the Natural Products Association, the NPA Natural Standard is based on natural ingredients, safety, responsibility and sustainability.
Ceiling fans help cool people naturally, and use a lot less energy than air conditioners. Use them to save on energy.
Save money and have a healthier home with these ideas for assembling your own green cleaning tool kit. Plus, get our recipe for Lemon-Mint Window Wash.
Every good home needs a porch. From fireside chats to sleeping--and even hanging laundry--porches can accommodate every aspect of our lives. Here are five inspiring examples to put a fire under your porch-sitting fantasies.
One of my earliest vivid childhood memories is sitting on my father’s lap as a young girl reading the magazine together in the 1980s and all throughout my childhood. He would read aloud while I studied the pictures of passive solar building, vegetable gardening, sheep shearing, building your own sugar shack and the beautiful array of topics which he read to me frequently. Those images, along with the camping trips in the mountains, the whitewater and canoeing excursions, and our family trip to Alaska, have been etched in the catacombs of my childhood memories and have sculpted the person I have grown to become.
The Joy of Green Cleaning is a fantastic resource with recipes to clean everything from grout to sheepskins.
Jessica expounds on the concept of cures in your cupboard with a few natural remedies for anxiety, general wellness, headache and menstruation/menopause.
A brief story of how a creek was damaged and how it was reported to the authorities properly.
The American College of Healthcare Sciences and Apothecary Shoppe have been re-certified as Green America Gold-Certified businesses.
Keeping feeder pigs over the summer is a good way to use garden leftovers and produce great tasting home-grown pork!
Use an old aluminum can and branch trimmings to make a rustic and beautiful vase. This simple project using humble materials costs nearly nothing and looks like a million bucks.
Sue J. Morris of Sue's Salves will present two workshops on gardening and creating salves at the Mother Earth News Fair, an annual sustainability festival, September 24-25, 2011 in Seven Springs, Pa.
Use naturally cool nighttime air to provide summer comfort. It's a lot easier than you think and it can save you a fortune on cooling costs.
Alma Hecht's renovated century-old cottage is artistic and beautiful--and it inspires her to create wonderful watercolor paintings. Her home is both an outlet and a source for her creativity.
Your simply imperfect arsenal for getting the whole house clean--naturally.
It's not always easy to use natural remedies on your chickens. Here's a trick to keep up your sleeve that will have them begging for their medicine.
Heating water is the highest drain that laundry machines and dishwashers have on your bill. Onaverage, water heating accounts for 18 percent of your energy bill.
In this blog, my architect James Plagmann and I begin to tell the story of the construction of Dan's new net zero energy homes. Dan begins by laying the ground, defining a few terms and describing his experience in this field.
An amazing, off-the-grid Welsh hobbit house was built in less than four months and for less than $5,000.
The Evergreen Institute's application to provide continuing education for LEED accredited professionals has been approved by the U.S. Green Building Council. A variety of workshops meeting required standards are now available for those interested in anything from solar electricity to straw bale construction.
Adzes and broad axes have been used for centuries in log cabin building. Learn a bit about what these tools do and how to use them.
Community food events are an outstanding way to share the abundance of our harvest and strengthen local community ties.
EU's ban of five chemicals commonly used in building materials will "shake up the industry," Healthy Building Network official predicts.
Eating cicadas, building a porch, and hauling lumber for said porch all in the same week with several images of the action as well as some bee installation pictures.
Our process of buying the land for our homestead had little to do with logic and a lot to do with emotion. For me, it was a chance to return to the plains where I grew up and be close to family.
We received some good additional tips on buying land and building a home. These pieces of advice are a roundup of comments taken from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Facebook page.
Ordering bees in January doesn't seem to make sense, until you understand that April is the cruelest month. Plus, if you order bees in January, and then you don't need them - that's just a reason to celebrate! Order early!
Forced to extremes by illness, these homeowners built sacred, beautiful homes completely free of toxic chemicals, petrochemical fumes and other poisons. For all three, better housing has meant better health.
By the 4th of July, there's a palpable shift in the feel of the beekeeping season. New beekeepers wish for more guidance, and may even be wondering why they started this project! Here's a little reassurance that you are not alone in your endeavor.
We have developed two customized search engines that make it easier to locate companies that offer specific varieties of seeds and plants, as well as organic garden products and tools.
During National Ground Water Awareness Week next week, let's bring attention to what natural gas drilling is doing to our ground water supplies.
Does the huge task of cleaning windows leave you feeling overwhelmed? Follow these six simple steps--using inexpensive materials you already have around the house--to get your windows sparkling and streak-free.
Many years ago, years before I moved to the country, I was what would be considered "a prepper." I saw disaster every time I turned on the TV, or read the news on the internet, or visited forums that talked about stockpiling beans and bullets. I panicked, thinking I could never have enough control for the sake of my family, never be "prepped" enough.
Highlights from the "Make Your Own Green Cleaners--for Pennies" workshop at the Mother Earth News Fair: How to use vinegar and baking soda to clean just about everything.
Connect together inexpensive mending plates to make these top-shelf candleholders--perfect for patio and porch dining. This simple project takes minutes and costs next to nothing.
This blog post started life as an article in The Natural Farmer,published by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA). It could be said to herald the birth of that entity we have come to call The Cynical Optimist.
Use spirulina or wheat grass instead of iffy chemical dyes to turn your beer green this St. Patrick's Day.
According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 100 percent of the electric generating capacity added in January was renewable.
Celebrate Meatless Monday with this sweet, tangy spring risotto.
As organic industry leaders urge consumers to take action against GMOs--the biggest threat the industry faces this year--soapmaker David Bronner gives $25,000 to seed an anti-GMO march on Capitol Hill.
Sauteed spring greens and mushrooms dress up polenta in this nutritious, satisfying main dish.
While many indications point to house size shrinking in America, National Public Radio reports that the McMansion is far from dead.
Turn terra cotta planter pots into candle holders. This super simple project is an inexpensive way to bring a little romance to your garden.
A quick essay regarding the "size" question of a top bar hive, from the bee's point of view - where it's all about the "volume"!
As a nursery renovation begins, Jessica, editor of Natural Home and Garden, is just beginning an investigation into remodeling options for an eco-friendly nursery.
It helps us feel better to know "why" things happen, but we don't always get to know that answer...
Follow these tips to banish clutter and increase your efficiency, from your home office to your garage.
Yellow jackets can pose a threat to honeybees. If yellow jackets have built a nest in your yard, here's a recipe for a natural, non-toxic solution that will get rid of them. Please share your own recommendations too!
To build a net zero energy home, you'll need to design for passive gain. That requires a shallower footprint to ensure that the low-angled winter sun can enter and heat each room.
Insulation under the slab -- and lots of it -- is vital for the performance of a net zero energy home. So is the footprint. You can make the most of passive solar by creating a longer, narrower house in which each room is heated by the sun.
Be sure to install under-the-footing conduit to run electrical and water pipes, including sewer. I like to run pipes and wire under the foot to prevent penetrating the band joist or the foundation to create a more airtight, water tight home.
Don't forget to budget in the cost of deeper excavation and add $1000 to $2000 as a budget contingecy in case you run into bedrock.
Insulating concrete forms are an excellent choice for foundations for passive solar, net zero energy homes. They create a highly insulated, air-tight foundation, so essential for extremely high energy performance.
ICFs are not the most environmentally friendly green building product, but result in super energy efficient home, and offer many other benefits, that offset their origin from petrochemicals.
ICF walls must be carefully braced to prevent blowout.
Creating a net zero energy home requires that we eliminate all thermal bridging loss -- heat movement into and out of a building. All this starts in the basement.
Precision Engineering www.structure1.com has generously provided drawings and specifications for building earthbag structures in seismic areas to meet code. The documents have been combined into one 6-page PDF and are now available online.
Crushing a truck, harvesting garlic, and fixing a broken flywheel shaft key are just a few of the things that got done over the last week at WaldenEffect.org complete with photos of all the juicy stuff.
Bryan Welch's book, Beautiful and Abundant, provides a framework for understanding and evaluating ecotourism's impact on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula.
When a fire destroyed their home and office near San Luis Obispo, Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper seized the opportunity to build the off-the-grid straw bale home of their dreams. Their comfortable compound now houses two other families as well.
Earthbag building has just received engineering approval. This is probably the greatest news ever for earthbag building. With engineer-approved plans, we see unlimited potential for earthbag building for homes, shops, schools, you name it.
This article describes an alternative roof design for those building in areas without building codes. A little extra effort working with poles will reward you with a stunningly beautiful wood ceiling and superinsulated roof at very reasonable cost.
The earthbag/geotextile basement wall system described here has excellent potential to save on initial construction costs and long-term energy costs. No concrete is used. The same principles have been used to build retaining walls for decades.
One of the greatest needs in the world is disaster resistant housing – houses that can hold up against hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Properly designed structures can save millions of lives and millions of structures every year.
Three-day workshop announcement on net zero energy homes by leading authority on energy efficiency and renewable energy, Dan Chiras. Learn how to reduce your utility bill through conservation, effriciency, & clean, affordable, renewable energy.
An overview of groups, initiatives, planning certifications, and neighborhood developments that promote sustainable communities, including Transition initiatives, ecovillages, One Planet Communities, LEED for Neighborhood Development, and others.
Building homes using dangerous and impactful industrial chemicals--in the name of energy efficiency--is not sustainable or ecological, a green building veteran says. His Health-Based Building model is an important step forward for green design.
Describing how we are trying to provide a low budget solar panel back up system for under 1000 dollars that will run our laptops and router along with a few other things if the local power grid has any issues.
One of the best ways to learn about green homes is to explore real-world examples--by touring homes or reading about them online. This article links to free online collections of case studies and in-depth profiles of green homes.
Give your bathroom a little flair--and have fun doing it--by creating a backsplash from pebbles, pennies or whatever's rattling around in the bottom of the toolbox. This fun, simple project is perfect for everyone--whether you're a DIYer or not.
Air conditioning accounts for as much as 20 percent of the average homeowner's utility bill. These simple tips can help you reduce your mechanical cooling needs, meaning more money for you and better-quality air for the world.
This is a true account of an end of life journey. A beautiful backyard Burial and all the steps that were taken in order to do it. This story is written in two parts, part two will be posted next week.
There's only one rule for wabi-style flowers: strive for a natural look, with seasonal blooms and branches arranged as they are in the field. Don't worry about perfection. Your "arrangement" is a humble admission that we can't improve on nature.
Learn about the advantages of urban farming from those who are leading the way. The benefits include improved food production, increased revenue sources and reduced energy use.
This blog post by Christy Hemenway of Gold Star Honeybees describes some techniques for getting bees to draw straight comb in a top bar hive.
This post offers tips for winterizing a top bar hive - insulating, mouse guards, wrapping, closing entrances, protecting from wind. All things you can do to help get them through!
Simran Sethi discusses what it takes for a home to be truly clean by avoiding harsh chemicals and using natural cleaning products.
Treat your cat to fresh spring herbs when you whip up this healthy homemade kitty food.
Kansas City's 18Broadway project is a superb example of how to capture and store rainwater to grow food in the heart of downtown.
Pick some pretty leaves, paint them and press their likenesses onto an inexpensive shower curtain liner to make a shower curtain much prettier than anything found in stores.
If you want to have some wonderful food, great scenery by the ocean, lots of things to do, I have a place for you: Nova Scotia, Canada.
Despite their widespread use, nanoparticles are not well classified, regulated or even understood. Fortunately, the FDA is signaling a turn toward more accurate classification and rules for their use.
Cut old milk jugs into the shape of your choice, rough them up with sandpaper and string them together to make surprisingly pretty window shades that offer privacy while letting the sun shine in.
Celebrate and spread the word about Fair Trade food and products with a World Fair Trade Day breakfast on May 14.
As Passive House Institute standards up the ante, USA Today’s “Best Green Homes of 2010” list reflects Americans’ desire for affordability, efficiency and style.
I envision this chandelier—made entirely of items recovered from the recycling bin—hanging over a dining table on the patio. Making it is a pretty big project, though, and I would have to call in a friend with a jigsaw to help. (I don’t have the tools—or skills—that former Natural Home & Garden art director Susan Wasinger, who dreamed up this project, does.) Aside from the saw, the materials for this one are simple: used baby-food jars, a few yards of twisted wire, a couple repurposed barrel hoops and a length of rusty chain. And happily, I can make the “lite” version–pretty votive holders—which lets me stop before power tools are needed.
I had such a great time talking with attendees at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington, this past weekend about how to make green cleaners. As always, I learned a new trick or two, and I promised everyone I’d recap our conversation here for easy access. Today let’s talk about some of the unexpected food items—most of which you already have in your kitchen cupboards—that can be used to clean your home.
Use tea to remove old furniture polish and prepare wooden furniture for polishing. Simply soak a rag in room-temperature tea, then run it over the wood. The tea’s tannic acid makes your wood shine while removing all the dirt. Once that’s done, you can use mayonnaise to make the piece shine. Just rub the mayo into the wood, then follow with a damp rag and a few drops of vinegar to remove any residue. Olive oil is also a great natural furniture
In this blog, I describe two of the first and most important design considerations -- the length and depth of the home and the layout of rooms for optimum passive solar gain.
Scaffolding is required to access the walls to pour the concrete. Scaffolding also helps support the walls.
Additional reinforcement is required around the garage door opening.
Scott Davis’ “Solar Projects, Big and Small” video offers inspiration for both solar energy enthusiasts and folks who are just curious. Tips and advice pertaining to solar energy can be found at the Yahoo! group Simply Solar, and you can make your dream project a reality with Gary Reysa’s instructions.
A little background on how Ric and Vicki moved from Detroit to a Tennessee homestead, and starting to get up to date on what they've done since.
Simran Sethi looks back at her New Year's resolution: to nourish herself.
Using newspaper, learn how to craft easy, biodegradable pots to start seeds.
Concrete rubble from collapsed buildings is a huge problem in Haiti. It is blocking roads and hindering reconstruction. Instead of spending millions of dollars trucking the rubble away and disposing of it, why not use it to build affordable housing?