Ecological Design and Building Schools: A Green Guide to Educational Opportunities in the United States and Canada. By Sandra Leibowitz Earley, New Village Press, 2005. The first and only directory with an annotated listing of top programs in ecological architecture and construction. Includes a comprehensive  review of sustainable design education with extensive tables comparing school programs; instructor list, green building organizations, curricular resources.

TLS #47/Fall 2004 features the article, “Getting Trained in Strawbale and Natural Building” with details about some of the centers listed here. See also listings in Human Resources List, Internet Resources, and Associations/Guilds/Networks.

ADPSR: Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility. ADPSR National Forum. 415.974.1306 Work for peace, environmental protection, ecological building, social justice, and the development of healthy communities.

Alaska Craftsman Home Program, Inc. PO Box 241647  Anchorage AK 99524; 907.258.2247 <>  Teaches energy-efficient building concepts.

Arcosanti. HC74, Box 4136, Mayer, AZ 86333; 928.632.7135  Concept of Ecological Human Habitats was introduced by Paolo Soleri in late 1960’s, exploring an alternative urban development in the age of environmental crisis. Learn about Arcology Theory and participate in a hands-on learning experience.

Auroville Earth Institute. Auroshilpam, 605 101 Auroville, Tamil Nadu, India; 91 (0) 413 262 3064/262 3300, fax 91 (0) 413 262 2886 <> One of the aims of the Auroville Earth Institute is to give people the possibility to create and build for themselves their own habitat, while using earth techniques.

The Black Range Lodge /Natural Building Resources. 119 Main St., Kingston, NM 88042; 505.895.5652, fax505.895.3389 <>  Host of Natural Building Colloquia, an inspired sharing of ideas by practitioners from several disciplines through hands-on workshops, lectures, slide shows and presentations supporting the ongoing renaissance in natural building and ecological design.

Builders Without Borders (BWB). 119 Main St., Kingston NM; 505.895.3389 <>

BWB is an international network of ecological builders working together for a sustainable future.

California Earth Art and Architecture Institute (Cal-Earth). 10376 Shangri-La Ave., Hesperia, CA 92345; 760.244.0614, fax 760.244.2201 <>  Cal-Earth, founded and directed by the internationally renowned architect and author Nader Khalili in 1986, a non-profit foundation is dedicated to research and educating the public on environmentally oriented arts and architecture, and a philosophy based on the equilibrium of the natural elements of earth, water, air, and fire.

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 700 Montreal Rd., Ottawa ON K1A 9P7; 613.748.2000 <>  Conducts research to promote healthy and sustainable buildng practices through community outreach and services. Publications available online.

The Canelo Project. HC1 Box 324, Elgin, AZ  85611; 520.455.5548, fax 520.455.9360  <>  Dedicated to exploration and development of living systems, including growing food and building that creates friendship, beauty and simplicity; known primarily for work in strawbale and natural building techniques.

Center for Alternative Technology (CAT).

Machynlleth, Powys SY20 9AZ, Wales, UK;  44 0 1654.702400, fax 44 0 1654.702782  Activities address every aspect of the average lifestyle Ð the key areas the Center works in are renewable energy, environmental building, energy efficiency, organic growing and alternative sewage systems.

Center for Creative Ecology. Kibbutz Lotan, D.N. Eilot 88855 Israel; 08-6356914, 053-922048, fax 08-6356842 Kibbutz-Lotan offers 10-week sessions three times a year. Limit 10 participants per session. After gaining experience in organic gardening, alternative construction and successful completion of course work, participants receive a Permaculture Design Course Certificate (International Permaculture Standards). For complete details, contact Mark Naveh


Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems. 8604 F.M. 969, Austin, TX  78724;  512.928.4786, fax 512.926.4418  CMPBS uses life cycle design to foster ecological balance within a multi-scalar context and engages in interdisciplinary collaborations with a common vision of healthful environments, economic prosperity, and social equity.

Cob Cottage Company. PO Box 123, Cottage Grove, OR 97424; 541.942.2005 <>  Conduct hands-on research on natural building methods and materials. Empower ordinary people to build their own houses at moderate cost through practical training in natural construction. Publications and tours, information, support and inspiration for people to make healthy choices about buildings.

Cobworks. TP 1, Mayne Island, BC V0N 2T0; 250.539.5253   Affordable structures from natural and local material.

Cold Climate Housing Research Center.

515 7th Ave., Ste 340, Fairbanks AK 99701; 907.457.3454; fax 907.457.3456 <>  Development, use, and testing of energy-efficient, durable, healthy, and cost effective building technologies for Alaska and the world’s cold- climate regions.

The Cooper School of Incredible Knowledge. 2648 Cooper Rd., RR 3, Madoc Ontario K0K 2K0  Canada; 613.473.1718, fax 613.473.1718  <> <>

CRATerre. Maison Levrat, Rue de Lac B. P. 53, F-38092 Villefontaine Cedex, France; 33 474.954391, fax 33 474.956421 <>   A research laboratory specializing in the earth architecture.

DAWN SouthWest. 6570 W Illinois St., Tucson AZ 85735; 520.624.1673 <> or Print resources, workshops (cob, earthen plasters, clay paints, water harvesting and land restoration), supplies, introduction to natural building and permaculture.

Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT).  PO Box 27513, Tucson, AZ 85726-7513; 520.624.6628, fax 520.798.3701 <>  Mission is to enhance the health of the planet and our communities by promoting a shift to sustainable construction and development practices through leadership, strategic relationships, and education.

Earthaven Ecovillage. 1025 Camp Elliott Rd., Black Mountain, NC 28711; 828.669.3937


An evolving village-scale community dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, practicing and demonstrating the skills for creating holistic sustainable culture. Courses on natural building including strawbale, earth plasters, and more.

Earthship Biotecture. PO Box 1041, Taos NM 87571; 505.751.0462, fax 505.751.1005  Offers workshops to give you hands-on experience building Earthships.

Earthwood Building School. 336 Murtagh Hill Road, West Chazy, NY 12992; 518.493.7744

Teaching cordwood masonry since 1981.

Clearinghouse for books, plans, videos.

Ecology Retreat Centre, RR#1, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada L9W 2&8; 519.941.4560,  Workshops and hands-on training in Strawbale Construction Permaculture Workshop, Living Off The Grid.

EcoVersity. 2639 Agua Fria, Santa Fe, NM 87505; 505.424.9797  An educational and community center offering a unique land-based and ethics- informed curriculum in all aspects of sustainability.

Everdale Environmental Learning Centre. 5812 6th Line Erin, PO Box 29, Hillsburgh, Ontario, N0B 1Z0,  Canada; 519.855.4859, fax 519.855.6531  <>  Hands-on learning for all ages in sustainable living ranging from solar and wind power to natural construction.

The Farm Ecovillage Training Center. PO Box 90, Summertown, TN 38483-0090; 931.964.4324, fax 931.964.2200  Introduction to Natural Building; Natural Building Immersion.

Fox Maple School of Traditional Building.  Corn Hill Road, PO Box 249, Brownfield, MA 04010; 207.935.3720, fax 207.935.4575 <>  Learn traditional timber framing and natural building skills. The campus is a learning center, a work in progress, crafted by students. Workshops begin with a joined timber frame, and then explore the use of natural enclosures; thatch, straw/clay, wood chip/clay, wattle & daub, cob, straw bales, finished with earth plasters. Publishes Joiners’ Quarterly; A Timber Framer’s Workshop.

Gaviotas/Paul Lugari & Gunter Pauli Zero Emissions Research Institute (ZERI).  Global network of creative minds seeking solutions to world challenges by viewing waste as resource and seeking solutions using nature’s design principles as inspiration.

GrAT Center for Appropriate Technology. Vienna University of Technology. Wiedner Haptstr. 8-10, A-1040 Wien, Austria; +43/1/588 01 49 523, fax +43/1/7864205 <> at  Methodology for Product Service System Innovation.

Groundworks.  PO Box 381, Murphy, OR 97533; 541.471.3470 <> Hands-on workshops and training in cob construction. Women’s Natural Building Symposium.

Heartwood School. Johnson Hill Road, Washington, MA 01223; 413.623.6677 <>  Teaches skills and knowledge it takes to build an energy-efficient house, including all aspects of the homebuilding crafts, particularly timber framing.

Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), 5045 Orbitor Dr., Bldg 11, Ste 200, Mississauga ON L4W 4Y4 Canada; 800.267.2231 ext 1120; fax 905.602.1197 Residential Radiant Hydronic Design Certification Course.

HouseAlive! 7540 Griffing Lane, Jacksonville OR 97520;  Hands-on workshops in natural building including cob, earthen plaster.

International Institute for bau-biologie & Ecology, Inc. (IBE).1401A Cleveland St., Clearwater FL 33755; 727.461.4371, fax 727.441.4373 <> Programs relate to how buildings and their environments impact health.

The Institute for Solar Living.  PO Box 836, 137715 S. Hwy 101, Hopland, CA  95449; 707-744-2017, fax 707-744-1682 <>  Workshops on renewable energy, ecological design, sustainable living practices and alternativeconstruction techniques.

International Institute for Bau-Biologie and Ecology.   PO Box 387, Clearwater, FL  33757; 727-461-4371  Educational organization dedicated to bringing together the technical expertise, biological understanding and ecological sensitivity to create healthy homes and workplaces.

The IronStraw Group, IronStraw Institute. 805 East 2nd Ave., Ellensburg, WA  98926; 509.962.4501 <>   Construction of low-income and affordable housing; education and promotion of straw as a standard building material including the development of Certified Contractors’ Programs.

Kleiwerks Natural Building. Ashfield, NC;


International grassroots natural building organization, teaching people how to build their own, appropriately designed, hybrid homes with affordable and indigenous materials.

Kupono Natural Builders. PO Box 828, Bella Vista CA 96008; 530.275.3623 <>

Natural building workshops teaching basic building skills with focus on earthen buildings, including cob, cob/strawbale hybrids, earthbags, recycled materials, passive solar design.

Merritt College offers courses in natural building (hands-on building using materials such as cob, strawbale and earth); carpentry working on affordable and green housing; construction management; and  permaculture design. 510.434.3840

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. 15290 Coleman Valley Rd., Occdenal CA 95465;

707.874.1557 <>  Offers natural building courses including natural paints, plasters, pigments; carpentry for women and more.

One United Resource (OUR) Ecovillage.  PO Box 530, Shawnigan Lake, BC V0R 2W0; 250.743.3067 <>  Workshops on strawbale and cob construction.

Rammed Earth Works. 14024 Hagen Rd Napa, CA 94558; 707-224-2532, fax 707-258-1878 <>  One-day general education workshops, week-long project specific training seminars, customized technology transfer arrangements.

Rocky Mountain Workshops.  505 N Grant Ave., Ft Collins CO 80521; 970.482.1366 <peter@rockymountainworkshopscom>  Hands-on workshops in traditional building techniques including round log, timber frame joinery and more.

Sage Mountain Center. 79 Sage Mountain Trail,

Whitehall MT 59759; 406.494.9875

<>  Workshops and training in Sustainable Living including Solar Design and Principles, Strawbale Construction, Cordwood Construction, Renewable Energy and more.

Shelter Institute. 873 Route One, Woolwich, ME 04579; 207.442.7938, fax 207.442.7939 <>   Wide variety of courses ranging in length and hands-on opportunity covering the building process and teaching each step individually. Students walk away from the course with all the design tools necessary to build a house, including timber framing and more.

Solar Energy International (SEI). PO Box 715, 76 South 2nd St., Carbondale CO 81623; 970.963.8855 <>  SEI offers hands-on workshops in solar, wind and water power and natural building technologies in eleven locations. SEI also offers internet based online courses. (See Online Education section of this guide.)

Solar Living Institute. Hopland, CA95449; 707.744.2017  Hands-on workshops on renewable energy, ecological design, sustainable living and alternative construction techniques including strawbale, cob, bamboo.

Southwest Solar Adobe School.  PO Box 153, Bosque, NM 87006; 505.861.1255  Adobe, rammed earth, pressed block, solar design. Publishes Adobe Builder, a publication on earthbuilding.

World Hands Project. PO Box 31854, Santa FE NM 87964  Help communities worldwide develop better quality of life through natural building solutions. Teach basics of natural building by creating straw-bale houses or community structure and other methods such as light-straw clay, earthen and lime plasters, cob, composting or simple permaculture design.

Yestermorrow Design/Build School. 189 VT Route 100, Warren, VT 05674; 888.496.5541, 802.496.5545 <>  Offers over 100 hands-on courses in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design.

College / University Courses and Degree Programs

Ecosa Institute. 212B South Marina St., Prescott, AZ 86303; 928.541.1002, fax 928.776.8086 <>  <>   Ecological and Sustainable Design Course. Restore health to the natural environment, and thus the human environment, through education in design based on synthesizing the ethical and ecological values critical to the health of the environment, with the vitality and dynamism of the design arts.

Merritt College offers courses in natural building (hands-on building using materials such as cob, strawbale and earth; carpentry working on affordable and green housing; construction management; and  permaculture design. 510.434.3840

New College of California.  99 6th St., Santa Rosa CA 95404; 707.568.3092

<>  EcoDwelling concentration (part of BA completion or MA degree). Holistic approach to design and construction through lectures, discussions, design projects, hands-on building encouraging sustainable design using natural materials and ecological processes.

Sir Sanford Fleming College-Ontario. PO Box 839, Haliburton, Ontario, K0M 1S0 Canada;  Sustainable Building Design and Construction 20-week intensive certificate course mixes theory with hands-on construction of full-sized building project. Leading experts teach and oversee construction in natural materials and finishes, renewable energy, water and waste treatment systems.

Online Education and Training Programs

The Geiger  Research Institute of Sustainable Building. PO Box 1194, Crestone, CO 81131; <>

Online training in straw-bale construction, Global Straw-Bale Construction Certification Program, workshops with emphasis on low-tech, affordable housing.

GreenSage Online Continuing Education. Instruction and lots of free information in the Sage Learning Center.   What  Is This Thing Called Sustainability? Courses on indoor environmental quality and indoor air quality, and green materials.

San Francisco Institute of Architecture (SFIA). SFIA Information Office, Box 2590, Alameda CA 94501;  Eco Distance Learning: Ecological Design, Alternative Materials and Construction, Solar Energy Systems, and more.

Solar Energy International. Rachel Connor, PO Box 715, Carbondale CO 81623-0715; 970.963.8855, fax 970.963.8866 <>  Offering six-week online courses in Photovoltaic Design and Solar Home Design.

If you know of other education and training opportunities, please let us know and we will add them to the web site and the TLS Resource Guide.

See also TLS#46, Getting Trained in Strawbale and Natural Building – a survey of  training workshops and courses, college and university degree programs, and apprenticeships available in the USA and Canada.