Introducing Resource Conscious Construction
What is Natural Building?
The terms “natural building”, “eco-building”, and “green building” are surrounded by ambiguity and debate. There are purists who permit no synthetic materials in a “natural” building. There are eco-philosophers who insist that the conceptual categories of “natural” and “unnatural” are divisions that separate people from the earth, giving them a foundation for seeing living ecosystems as inanimate objects of mere economic value. There are corporations who add the words ‘all natural’ and an illustration of a green leaf to their packaging to catch the eye of eco-conscious buyers. The terms “natural”, “eco”, and “green” are used to describe ethical positions, political identities, professions, certifications, hobbies, vocations, and brands.
Movement on the fringe.
One characteristic these terms share in the construction industry is that they are used to describe alternatives to mainstream building practices. Hence, the term “alternative building” comes into play. This term is helpful to bring folks together and rally counter-cultural support, but by its nature it never allows the practices to become the mainstream, for in order to be alternative they must not be conventional.
The vast majority of Earth’s human population lives in societies built on destructive practices. Colonization, resource extraction, unfettered growth, and pollution define the global building industry. For most of us, our day-to-day activities cannot exist outside of these unsustainable practices. From this position, it is our task to imagine alternatives and explore new ways of living and relating to the world. The greater our willingness to imagine and explore more extreme societal change, the more alternative we become, putting us farther on the fringe. Deep in this fringe is where natural builders often find themselves.