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Visit us on the San Diego Green Homes Tour Sat 11/12/16, 10am-3pm


Green Homes Tour Saturday, Nov 12, 2016, from 10-3pm

Join us in celebrating 10 homes with a wide range of green features as part of the San Diego Green Building Council’s Annual Green Homes Tour.

Our most recent project, the Fallgren Naturally Healthy Home, will be open to the public and we (Mike & Rebecca) will be there to answer questions and show you around this fantastic super-green home.

The full brochure for the tour can be found here as well as a link to register.

Hope to see you there!

The straw bale buildings at Deer Park Monastery nominated for an Orchid Award

Sisters at Deer Park Monastery enjoying a cup of teaThe straw bale buildings we helped build for the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery in Escondido were nominated for an Orchid award in the 2016 “Orchids & Onions” by the San Diego Architecture Foundation.




“Deer Park Monastery- Nun’s Residence

The form—based on a traditional Spanish Hacienda embracing a central courtyard with plantings—encourages togetherness and provides opportunities for interaction between residents.  Covered walkways extend the living space outdoors, taking advantage of our temperate climate and integrating awareness of the natural world into activities like walking to the shower.  All rooms are accessed through the central courtyard, helping eliminate the expense and space requirements of interior hallways.

The detached buildings help enclose the courtyard, providing a sense of protection and defining the core of the residences.  This arrangement allows Deer Park Monastery to build within the existing pad and provide fire department access without building a large road around the buildings. This design also allows for phased construction that can help meet the project’s current budget, while being mindful of possible future expansion as funds allow.

Thick strawbale walls and operable windows provide thermal comfort for the buildings atop the hill which receive plentiful daylight and breezes. A beautiful garden setting incorporating existing cypress trees and views to the rest of the monastery will make this new residence a comfortable place to visit and live.

Clay Plaster Interior Detail Deer Park Monastery


  1. Sensitive siting in the area of existing buildings and roads minimizes the impact on the natural surroundings.
  2. Passive solar design lets the sun help heat the space and uses shade to stay cool. This helps reduce the need for mechanical systems and electricity.
  3. The narrow footprint along with operable windows optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation.
  4. Indoor / outdoor living is encouraged by covered walk-ways and central courtyard.
  5. Super-insulated strawbale walls repurpose agricultural waste as a building material and provide comfortable, quiet interiors.
  6. Plastered bale walls provide thermal mass, passively maintaining interior temperature
  7. A metal roof with recycled steel content limits solar heat gain through its reflective finish.
  8. High-efficiency glazing reduces heat gain
  9. Fire-resistive materials provide durability along with timeless beauty
  10. Rainwater catchment and greywater re-use supplies landscape irrigation.”Deer Park Monastery New Nunnery Building A

Visit San Diego’s Greenest Home!

San Diego's Greenest Home, straw bale home on USGBC's Green Homes Tour
The Fallgren Naturally Healthy Home, a 1600 sq ft straw bale home designed and built by Simple Construct, will be featured on the USGBC’s upcoming Green Homes Tour

Join us at San Diego’s Greenest Home on Saturday, November 12 from 10 am – 3 pm as part of the San Diego Green Building Council’s annual Green Homes Tour.

This is the 4th year we’ve shown a home in this unique tour that has sites all over San Diego County and it’s a great way to get to see a wide variety of green home options all in one day.

Our site, the Fallgren Naturally Healthy Home, is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1600 sq ft straw bale home completed in 2016. With superinsulated straw bale walls, passive solar orientation, modest photovoltaic array, and efficient systems, this home is on track to be certified Net Zero Energy Building by the Living Building Challenge.

With its Old World feel and high-performance, it’s an inspiring mix of the best of both worlds. Passively warm in winter and cool in summer, this home stays comfortable even when the power goes out. Featuring natural materials such as straw bales, clay plaster, adobe block, reclaimed wood and non-toxic finishes, we believe it may just be San Diego’s Greenest Home! Why don’t you visit and judge for yourself?

Because of the remote nature of this site, we will be organizing carpools and may provide a van shuttle if there is enough interest. Check back here for more info.

Register for the tour here:

Straw Bale Open House-in-Process, 9/11/16

openhousebalerainbowIMG_4693v2Sunday, September 11th, noon-3pm, The Wakeham Project, Solana Beach, CA

A rare opportunity to tour a straw bale house under construction! Come talk with the builders and check out how the straw bales go together to form the walls in this 1600 sq ft, two-story straw bale home designed by Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. This is the only time this job site will be open to the public until the project is completed, so don’t miss it!



Wakeham CoverWAKbalesIMG_5004

Check out the campaign to get Living Building Challenge certification

Update: WOW! The homeowners of this project have been so inspired by the response to this campaign that they have decided to match any donation DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR in this last week of fundraising, up to $2,000! That means that the effect of any donation you make between now and Aug 28 will be doubled. I feel like a used car salesman yelling at you from your TV, but this is a REALLY BIG DEAL for this campaign. If we can raise just $1,250 more, all of the out-of-pocket costs of this certification will be covered and we will happily donate our time to build the website, and do the research & documentation knowing that our community believes in what we are doing. Thanks for your support!


Are you interested in helping to promote natural materials, straw bale building, energy efficiency, and simple design? Then check out our fundraising campaign to get our current straw bale, adobe, and straw-clay project certified through the Living Building Challenge! LBC is a rigorous and holistic metric that only a handful of buildings in the world have met. Let’s inspire more people to build this way by showing that simple and natural can be extraordinary!

Please share this link and help us get the word out:


Our sincere thanks to our funders so far:

Luke Morton, Darcey Donovan, Allen Olston, Jim Furness of Furness Construction Inc., Sarah Matthews, Toni Tasker, David Weir, Deanna Moore, Pete Tasker, Yoshi Makino, Lesley Christiana, Ed Earl of Priority 1 Projects, Michael Hornsby, Richard Fleiss, Jay Flynn, Mary Speare, Bob & Marty Kvaal, Bob Theis, Kerstin Sjoquist, Adam Pascu of 73 Degrees Realty, Teri Nirr, Tom Wanderer, Frank Golbeck, Martin Hammer, Jon Williams, Brook Sarson, Emily Reynolds, Bert Reuss, Donald McSwain, Ian Harrison, the California Straw Building Association, Drew Hubbell, Stevan de la Rosa, Bea Alvarez, Stephen McCabe, and Dadla Ponizil.

Our straw bale project seeks LBC Net Zero!

We are excited to announce that our current straw bale project, the Fallgren Naturally Healthy Home, is now registered with the Living Building Challenge seeking Net Zero Energy Building certification, which is a rigorous standard that will verify that the project used the land appropriately, considered beauty, and that this home is so energy efficient that it makes as much energy as it uses.

If you are not familiar with the Living Building Challenge, it is a holistic program that evaluates beauty, toxicity, equity, health, as well as energy and water efficiency. Currently, there are only 11 fully certified buildings in the world!

Santa Cruz Straw Bale Building Workshop – 7/7 to 7/10/16

Want to get hands-on and learn a lot about straw bale building in a short time from knowledgable teachers? Check out this 3 day straw bale building workshop presented by the CA Straw Building Association in Santa Cruz, CA in July. You’ll get to work on a real straw bale home alongside professionals like Jim Reiland of Many Hands Builders, David Arkin of Arkin-Tilt Architects, Michele Landegger of Boa Constructor, and us, Mike Long & Rebecca Tasker of Simple Construct, as well as other CASBA members. With a high teacher-to-student ratio and experienced administrators, this should be a great workshop!

3 Day Straw Bale Building Workshop

CASBA Straw Bale Building Conference 4/21 – 4/24/16

The California Straw Building Association invites you to attend our annual conference. This year’s conference celebrates CASBA’s 20th anniversary and the amazing progress we’ve made bringing straw bale and other forms of natural, low-carbon building to life. Join this diverse range of building experts gathering to share, discuss, and collaborate. There will be presentations, tours, panel discussion, and hands-on demonstrations, all set against the beautiful backdrop of spring wildflowers in the Carrizo Plain.

Simple Construct will be there presenting “Buddhists, Bales, and Building Science;” participating in a panel discussion on Plaster, Moisture, and Durability; and showing our recent work. We hope to see you there!

More info and registration here.

Visit us at the San Diego Earth Fair 4/17/16

Stop by our booth during Earth Fair to see us (Simple Construct) and other members of CASBA (the CA Straw Building Association) and find out what’s new with straw bale building in San Diego. We’ve re-vamped our booth this year with lots of big, beautiful photos of recent straw bale projects from all over California. Come check it out!

Earth Fair Sunday, April 17, 2016 10am-5pm, Balboa Park, San Diego


SDSDS: Intro to Permaculture, Natural Building, & Efficient Water Systems – 10/16/15



SDSS banner crop



I hope you will join me, Rebecca Tasker of Simple Construct, on Oct 16, 2015 for this half day event covering the foundations of sustainability.


Friday, October 16th, 10:00 am–3:00pm at the Energy Innovation Center, San Diego

Learn about creating a healthy, beautiful and sustainable San Diego through Permaculture Design, Natural Building, and Efficient Water Systems. Presented by experienced leaders in their fields, these sessions will give you a thorough introduction to the foundations of sustainability. 

10am – Energy Innovation Center Tour, 4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego – The Energy Innovation Center is 1 of 10 buildings in the world to receive a double Platinum LEED certification. During our tour at the EIC we will learn about the latest in energy and environmental technologies such as a solar system that produces 20% more energy than it utilizes on a daily basis and a community garden fed by a rainwater catchment and greywater system.

11am – Introduction to Permaculture Design with Christopher Marciello of Ecology Artisans Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking that uses ethics and design principles. It guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics. By adopting the ethics and applying these principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy.

12 – Lunch Break (lunch provided)

1pm – Introduction to Natural Building with Rebecca Tasker of Simple Construct– An introduction to a range of natural and sustainable building systems such adobe, cob, and rammed earth, with a focus on straw bale building as ideally suite to our region. Learn about the surprisingly-sophisticated ways in which simple materials such as clay, sand, and straw perform hi-tech roles like providing super insulation and thermal mass; dealing with water vapor and buffering changes in humidity; protecting from wildfire and earthquake; and creating better acoustics and air quality. Learn the pros and cons of different systems and how they can be effectively and legally utilized in San Diego.

2pm – Efficient Water Systems with Brook Sarson of H2OME – Learn how to use integrated strategies to provide water resilience in Southern California. With the use of greywater, actively and passively harvested rainwater, and appropriate landscaping you may be able to use little to no municipal/well water to irrigate a productive garden and landscape. Find out how much rain you can actually capture in a year, how to store it in tanks or in the soil, and how rainwater means you’ll use less water for your plants. Greywater is a simple way to add to your water budget. However, there are many things to know and understand about how to use it safely, how to be compliant to local and state codes, and how to find the most efficient ways to get water from each source outside. Onsite water is far better for your plants, our watersheds, and our state!

$50 early-bird / before October 7th – $60 after October 7th – $35 – Student

Continuing Education Credits available for AIA & USGBC Members

more info: