Sustainable Shelter Workshop Series

Natural Building and Green Design from the ground up!

August 3rd – September 20th, 2014

student financing available!

The Sustainable Shelter Workshop Series is a 7 week course designed to empower participants with the ability to design/build/renovate their own home using simple techniques and natural, vernacular materials.  During this course we will start from the ground and move up teaching not only the art/science of natural building and green design, but the corresponding appropriate technologies essential for successfully integrating your shelter into a permaculture landscape.

The course is taught by a TEAM of Pacific Northwest natural builders with years of experience in the field whose teaching emphasis is direct, hands-on involvement for the students complimented by classroom/theory time when appropriate.  During the course we will be constructing a 200 sqft. model home giving participants the opportunity to see the principles and techniques they are learning put into practice.  See PHOTOS from previous years program!


Watch this short video to get a feel for the program and hear from the teachers and past students.

Week 1  The Foundation: Dry-Stacked and Mortared-Stone Wall Systems

8/5 – 8/8

Every home needs a good set of boots.  Most conventional foundations use large amounts of portland cement, a high-embedded energy material contributing large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.  This class is an in-depth, hands-on study of a beautiful natural alternative: stone.  Working with a master stone mason, students will learn how to prepare and build both dry and mortared-stone wall systems.  Other topics include site preparation, rubble-trench foundations and more.

Week 2 Working with Wood pt1: Timber and Round-Pole Framing

8/11 – 8/15

Timber and pole framing is a timeless tradition among the owner/builder.  In this class you will learn the craft of joining large timbers and poles in the service of your home.  Students will learn not only the craft of cutting timber frame joinery, but the important details necessary to properly layout joinery on both square timbers and round poles.

Week 3 Working with Wood pt2: Roof Systems and Light-Framing Techniques

8/18 – 8/22

Building on the skills and experience of the previous week, this week covers the important framing techniques involved in roofs and light-framing.  Specifically, students will learn how to select, cut-down, peel, scribe and cut rafters out of round poles as well as the important techniques necessary to install windows and doors.

Week 4 Inside Insulation: From Strawbale to Straw Clay

8/25 – 8/29

Insulation equals warmth.  In temperate climates like Oregon’s its necessary for your home to have a jacket in the winter (and to make sure its zipped!)  In this comparative workshop we will be covering the basics of Strawbale Construction, Light Clay Straw and Chip-Slip infill, as well as the types of framing and form work required for each system. We will also cover the more conventional green alternatives currently available to the home builder such as Cellulose and Wool.  In addition to techniques, be ready to discuss the meaning of ‘R-values’, infiltration, solar potential and thermal mass, and how we can make better use of these principles in our homes.

Week 5 Heat for the Home: Masonry Heaters and Rocket Stoves

9/1 – 9/5

The hearth is the heart of the home.  When you burn wood in the colder months, you are releasing the heat and light that trees have captured and stored during the warmer months.  Learning to build heaters and stoves that burn wood cleanly and maximize the heat captured inside the home is our goal.

Week 6 Natural Plasters and Finishes: The Craft of Lime and Clay

9/8 – 9/12

There was a time before drywall and latex paint when the owner/builder transformed vernacular materials, whether limestone or clay, into beautiful interior and exterior walls.  Come relearn the timeless craft of lime and clay plasters and paints.

Week 7 As Clear As Mud: Earthen Floor Systems

9/15 – 9/19

Earthen floors are rapidly being recognized as a desirable, natural alternative to conventional floor systems.  Not only do they capture heat (or cool) increasing the energy efficiency of your home but they are pleasing to both the eye and the soles of your feet.  Come explore the potential of earthen floor systems with earthen floor master Sukita Crimmel.

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