Bioneers Event

Frank will be speaking on a panel about natural and ecological building, and ways to revamp the green construction industry to serve the needs of the people, place, and economy, at the Front Range EcoSocial Solutions Conference, a.k.a. Bioneers, this year.

Add it to your calendar because it’s coming up soon: February 9-10, 2018.

Located at CU Boulder in their new SEEC Building, look forward to a wide range of speakers discussing topics of environmental and social concern. Check out their full schedule for more topics and speakers.

Here’s the official description:

15th Annual Front Range Eco- Social Solutions: A Bioneers Network Event
February 9 + 10, 2018 ~ University of Colorado at Boulder

In its 15th year, Front Range Eco-Social Solutions is two days of sharing, learning and action, and is a uniquely affordable community event that brings together the progressive thinkers of this colorful region.

Front Range Eco-Social Solutions features re-broadcasts of the national Bioneers plenaries. The national presentations set a global context for the local conference, which features over 30 options of workshops and sessions with over 80 local presenters that focus on topics of regional importance. Bioneers is the preeminent international gathering of leading innovators and visionaries who offer practical solutions to the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time. In its 28th year, Bioneers continues to
uniquely and authentically articulate the relationships between environment, health, social justice and spirit.

Front Range Eco-Social Solutions is a Bioneers Network Event produced by the CU Environmental Center in collaboration with Naropa University, Woodbine Ecology Center, Denver Permaculture Guild, and Earth Guardians.

Let’s create some solutions in the Front Range, together!

RMNBC 2017 Recap

Living Craft owners were recently proud to be speakers, sponsors, planners, and attendees of the 2017 Rocky Mountain Natural Building Conference, co-hosted by the Colorado Straw Bale Association and Common Earth. It’s been a fun and exhausting process through which we learned a lot, both about hosting a conference, as well as all the learning opportunities from speakers and other attendees of the event.

This year’s event was a blast, where we finally had a chance to meet other straw bale and natural building enthusiasts and reconnect with our mentors and friends from past natural building endeavors. The scope of the conference was broader than similar events put on by COSBA in the past, as we were striving to connect straw bale with other building techniques and ideas which can offer their own unique benefits. Speakers and attendees included earthen and adobe builders, hemp builders, building scientists and passive house experts, timber framers, architects, permaculturists, and landscape and greywater systems designers.

Frank was the emcee for the event, and Ben and Frank gave a presentation titled: Natural Building in the Urban Environment – Low Hanging Fruit. Cheryl was on a panel with several of her mentors and peers, discussing Intergenerationality in Natural Building.

Other highlights were Deva Racusin of New Frameworks Natural Design Build discussing building science and the important role of natural building materials and techniques in the green building movement. There is a huge opportunity for natural builders to promote building homes that not only have low energy use during their operation, but are also made of materials that sequester carbon within the structure of the building itself. By using plant based materials like straw, wood, cellulose, and hemp, instead of carbon emitters like steel, concrete, and mineral wool, the immediate carbon footprint of the building is significantly lower. This is absolutely essential to fight climate change in the moment, rather than waiting for benefits to offset inputs after 20-30 years or more. His business partner wrote a great article that goes into more detail about sequestering carbon in buildings.

The Friday night panel discussion with Deva, Mike Wird, Brian Fuentes, Emily Niehaus, and Derek Roff was also a really fun and informative discussion. The crowd was able to get involved by asking question via a website, which other audience members could vote on to lead the topic of conversation to areas of highest interest. Mike’s discussion of leverage points was inspiring and artful, as was Emily’s reminder that we all have more to give, as her upcoming role as mayor of the town of Moab illustrates.

An impromptu 5×5 panel on Saturday night allowed some of our friends for CASBA (California Straw Building Association) to share the results of wildfires on several straw bale homes which were impacted in recent wildfires across the state. We are truly impressed again and again by the durability of straw buildings with lime plaster, as several homes were left intact even after other non-straw structures nearby were damaged or destroyed.

Finally, COSBA and other anonymous donors, along with event attendees, were able to raise a significant donation to Liz Johndrow’s Pueblo Project, a non-profit that teaches local Central American people how to build with adobe and clay, and improve their homes’ durability, beauty, and comfort with these simple and affordable techniques. She’s hosting a natural building conference of her own in Guatemala this year.

There was too much fun to fully recount here, but Living Craft would like to fully extend our gratitude and love to our community for joining us on this amazing weekend. We hope to continue to work with all the folks we met and those we didn’t get a chance to talk with.

‘Til the next one, friends! #RMNBC2017

The Philosophy of Natural Building

What is Natural Building?

This is a hard question to answer, and has been the topic of many classroom and late night bonfire discussions. For us, it breaks down to a few basic principles:

Local

We try to use materials that are found or produced locally and have as little embodied energy as possible. We want to support the local economy and the people within it. I would love to use bamboo, but if I have to ship it across the Pacific, it’s probably not the best material to use.

Non-Toxic

We use materials that are not harmful to the people producing, installing, or living among them.

Healthy

Not only do we want the inhabitants and the environment to be healthy, but also the building itself. Too many of our new homes are riddled with moisture issues and bad air quality. By creating a vapor permeable wall system, we don’t trap moisture where it doesn’t belong. Instead, we allow it escape harmlessly, without negatively impacting the performance or longevity of the building.

Low Impact

Low embodied energy, with the least extractive methods possible. This allows an efficient building to begin immediately having a positive effect on slowing down climate change, rather than having to “pay back” the energy that went into and emissions that were produced while creating the materials.

Sustainable

This term gets thrown around a lot, and seems to have lost some of it’s true meaning. There are three tiers of sustainability: Economy, People and the Environment.

Economy

We want to use products that are literally dirt cheap. With cheaper materials, the customer saves money. Sometimes these materials require a little more labor, which puts more money into the pockets of local tradesmen instead of going to the large corporation.

People

We prioritize the use of local materials that help support people in our community. We also try to make sure these materials are non-toxic to anyone who comes in contact with them.

Environment

Our focus is on finding and incorporating into our design the materials with the lowest embodied energy possible. We also try to think in a cradle-to-cradle mindset. We want our buildings to last forever, but at the point it reaches its end of life, it shouldn’t contribute to the waste stream. With natural materials like clay, hemp, and straw, much of the building is compostable or can be put back into the natural environment after its disassembled.