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Simple Construct is now a Benefit Corporation

We are proud to announce that we have restructured our business to reflect and embed our values: we have become a Benefit Corporation. This means that, although we are a for-profit company, maximizing profits is not our only consideration. We have written into our articles of incorporation that:

“The specific public benefit of this corporation is to preserve the environment and improve human health by reducing the embodied-energy, consumption, toxicity, and carbon footprint of construction through the use of local, natural, and carbon-sequestering building materials.”

As part of this process, we also defined our mission:

Our mission is to create high-performance natural homes from local, carbon-sequestering materials; to preserve the environment by reducing embodied-carbon; and to educate about, advocate for, and provide healthy, high-quality shelter for as many people as possible.

We hope you share our vision for a way of building that not only does less harm, but can actively do good for the environment and human health.

Applications for our Natural Building Pre-Apprenticeship + Certificate Program are due May 18

Interested in part-time on-the-job training and focused classwork centered on natural, high-performance building? Check out our new Pre-Apprenticeship + Certificate Program!

We are pleased to offer this unique opportunity in partnership with the San Diego Sustainable Living Institute. Only four places will be offered per 3 month semester, applications are due May 18, 2019. Here’s a link to more info: https://www.sdsustainable.org/natural-building-pre-apprenti….

The long-awaited “Straw Bale Building Details” book is available!

After more than ten years of work by many, many people, the book actually really exists! I’m proud to be one of about 40 contributors to this great book that covers many options and variations for building with straw bales and is full of good illustrations. This is the book I wish I had had when I started building with bales 15 years ago. On sale now: https://www.newsociety.com/Bo…/S/Straw-Bale-Building-Details.

Testimony about one of our strawbale homes in the snow

Attached are some photos taken this AM of the house - 3-4" of snow which is pretty good for Campo. Low 20's outside at night. Interior drops to 72 when the woodstove is cold or overnight, and the whole house heats quite uniformly. We haven't used the mini-split heater. I know I harp on this, but such performance is remarkable. This house is just so damn easy to live in

Read more

Strawbale Building Hands-on Workshop 2/9/19

The adorable natural shed building will have two strawbale walls and two straw-clay walls, clay plaster, and a clay floor.

There are still a few spots left for the Strawbale Building Workshop we will be teaching at Terra Corazon Farm in Valley Center on Sat., Feb 9, 2019, as part of the San Diego Sustainable Living Institute’s new Natural Building Program. This will be a fun day spent in a relaxed and safe environment learning about building with bales. We will be shaping and stacking the bales for an adorable 120 sq foot building. People of all gender identities are encouraged to attend.

These workshops fill up quickly so register soon!

Wondering what people think of our workshops? Here are some recent testimonials:

“I learned more than I had hoped to at this workshop. I particularly liked the hands-on experience and the knowledge you gain from other participant’s past experiences. The workshop was really well put together and the information was presented extremely well. I want to thank you for going above and beyond in putting these workshops together.  It was great!!” – Vivri E.

“I learned a lot and really liked that there was a lot of hands-on work, the information was well presented, and there was a great atmosphere. It was a great experience– you guys have so much knowledge and passion for what you do and I appreciated the opportunity to learn from you.” – Maria B.

“The workshop had a good pace, was very well thought out by the teachers and easy to understand. It was the perfect amount of students. Easy to understand. Excellent presentation. Very knowledgeable instructors. Would highly recommend the workshops.” – Anna C.

“I loved the size of the workshops and how they were presented. Very easy to grasp the principles as they were presented. There was always time for questions and they were all answered. I felt that a great deal of consideration was given in the planning of the classes and there is nothing I can think of that I would want different. Often when attending this sort of thing there is a feeling from the people giving the class that they are better than those of us who do not know enough yet. I never once got the feeling like that from the teachers of this class. They were always very much interested in our needs and perception of the material. I felt like it would be easy to become friends with them.” – Kari W.

SD County drops fees for ADUs / guest houses!

More good news about building an ADU (aka guest house, granny flat): the County of San Diego has followed the City’s lead and reduced permitting fees for ADUs!

The County allows an ADU to be added to any property with an existing house (as long as you meet certain zoning regulations). A detached ADU can be as big as 1,200 sq ft or as tiny as 150 sq ft, regardless of the size of the existing house, and it is legal to rent out either the ADU or the main house.

And the County supports green building by allowing us to count the sq footage to the inside of the strawbale walls, so we get all the benefits of thick super-insulated walls without losing any precious living space.

So why not build your dream strawbale home in your backyard and then rent out the conventional house? That’s what we call making your guest house your best house!

We are a design-build company with a passion for small, sustainable, high-performance homes. So contact us today to explore building a high-performance, natural ADU on your property.

Want to visit a strawbale house, touch clay plaster, or sit on a cob bench? Green Homes Tour 10/21/18

Interested in seeing some of our work in person? Here’s your chance: three projects we worked on will be open to the public on the Green Homes Tour on Sunday, Oct 21, 2018, from 10 am – 4 pm. The Tour is an annual event hosted by the San Diego chapter of the Green Building Council and, this year features a total of 13 homes all over the county. More info and tickets here: http://usgbc-sd.org/event-3042748

“Net Zero, Naturally” video about the Fallgren home

1. The Fallgren Net Zero Strawbale Home in Campo: Simple Construct designed and built this turn-of-the-last-century rancho style home. With strawbale walls, exquisite salvaged wood details, and all natural finishes, this homes is not just energy-efficient it is also a feast for the eyes. After a year of monitoring, it earned the Net Zero Energy Building certification through the Living Building Challenge, a third-party certification that verifies that the house uses less energy than it produces. In 2018, this project was honored with a Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award, watch the short video 

* Earthbag courtyard wall: If you are interested in earthbag construction, you have yet another reason to visit the Fallgren home in Campo. We are in the process of building a 6′ tall earthbag wall that will enclose the future outdoor kitchen, seating area, and raised bed vegetable gardens.


2. The Martin-Lynn Strawbale Home in Jamul: Simple Construct installed the straw bales, lath, and plaster on this lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath custom home designed and built by TNT Custom Builders. The home features peeled posts, stained concrete floors, fine woodworking, and gorgeous clay-plastered strawbale walls. Though not quite finished, it’s clear this will be a stunningly beautiful, energy-efficient natural home.

 


3. The Ponizil-Berlfein Green Renovation in Encinitas: Simple Construct assisted with a deep-energy retrofit of this typical San Diego home, helping to air-seal and reinsulate the roof. We also installed beautiful clay plaster in two rooms and built a cob/adobe seating area in the backyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 


We hope to see you one the Green Homes Tour!

Saving the world with carbon-smart materials like straw

Architecture 2030 chart of the impacts of various forms of insulation

It sounds far-fetched at first, but building with straw and other bio-based, carbon-sequestering materials can help fight climate change. We can go beyond “doing less harm” with building, we can actually do some good.

Check out this chart from Architecture 2030’s Carbon-Smart Materials Palette showing that straw bales not only cause less carbon dioxide to be emitted, they actually sequester carbon in the wall. Read more about the carbon impact of strawbale on Architecture 2030’s website.

“Beyond Energy Efficiency: Why Embodied Carbon in Materials Matters”

 

For an in-depth discussion of embodied carbon in building materials, check out this thorough but accessible article on embodied carbon written by Ace McArleton and Jacob Deva Racusin of NewFrameworks to understand how.

 

Let’s do some good while building natural, beautiful, healthy homes!