2012 International Straw Bale Conference - Estes Park, CO
From Colorado Straw Bale Association to Natural Building Alliance
Colorado Straw Bale Association (COSBA) began in 2000 to address the growing need for public understanding of straw-bale construction in Colorado and the surrounding region. We have held education workshops and annual conferences throughout the state that include keynote speakers, panel discussions, and local straw-built home tours. In 2012, COSBA hosted the extremely successful International Straw Building Conference in Estes Park, CO.
With the continuing growth of natural building, COSBA decided that 2019 was the year to grow as well. In an effort to include all natural building techniques and to encompass a larger geographical range, we decided to rename our organization to the Natural Building Alliance (NBA). With our expansion, we will continue to advocate for the benefits of straw bale construction. Additionally, we will also be advocating for all natural building techniques. Whether, compressed earth block, hempcrete, light straw clay, cob, or any other natural materials-based construction technique, NBA will be at the center of providing education and hands-on experience to the public. Although Colorado has been our region of focus until this year, NBA will be a voice for not only Colorado but for all of the inter-mountain states and beyond.
Ian Smith – Director
Engineer at Lopez Smolens Associates, Boulder, CO
Ian has been on the NBA (COSBA) Board since 2005 and was named Interim Director in 2016, and then Director in 2018. He grew up landscaping and harvesting hay with the family business back east, then came to CU Boulder for an engineering degree. After graduating in 2002, he served as a team member on one of the very first Engineers Without Borders projects in Haiti, and found a job in the natural building world that he quickly fell in love with. Ian has been a licensed engineer since 2008 and lives in a strawbale house in Boulder, CO.
Mark was raised in the Midwest, schooled in Ohio at the University of Dayton and paid for his schooling pouring concrete in the summers. He stuck with the concrete after moving to Colorado in ’73 and began a successful flatwork business in Boulder in ’82, selling the business in ’04. Natural building became a focus in ’99 and after his retirement became Executive Director of the Colorado Straw Bale Association 2003-2006. With COSBA Mark had an opportunity to work with Engineers Without Borders, train/teach Natural Building practices to students at the University of Colorado and trained indigenous people on several reservations throughout the western US and Mexico. Mark is now an avid gardener and can often be seen fly-fishing the many streams in Colorado. He is retired now and living in the straw bale and earthen plaster home he built north of Boulder.
Co-Founder: LivingCraft Design-Build
Coming from a lineage of builders, with a grandfather who started his own home building company in Florida, Cheryl had an early education in carpentry and tool use from her father. After a degree in Environmental Science sparked her passion for sustainably, she headed to Moab to work on an organic vegetable farm. While there, she discovered natural building, interning with Community Rebuilds and building her first straw bale home for a low income family in 2010. She followed this up with a six week Adobe and Earthen Building course in Nicaragua in 2014. Returning to Colorado, she worked briefly for Artesano plaster, meeting her business partners with whom she would eventually found Living Craft Design Build. Living Craft aims to meet the needs of urban homeowners and businesses in the Front Range of Colorado, providing low carbon and natural solutions while incorporating advances from modern building science.
Mark Jensen has spent the last two decades building and teaching others the ins and outs of straw bale construction, healthy building material choices, and renewable energy options. He worked as the Construction Program Director for the nonprofit Red Feather Development Group for nine years on Indian Reservations throughout the west; teaching volunteers and tribal members every step of construction as they built a home for a local tribal family. Mark’s ability to teach others has also taken him to Kenya and Nepal to teach straw bale construction as a form of safe, healthy and affordable housing. It is very important for Mark to continue to give back to the communities that are an integral part of his life and that have given him so much. Annually, Mark makes several pro bono trips to reservations in the west offering up his skills to better other people’s living conditions. Mark recently served on the Board of Directors for US Green Building Council’s Montana Chapter.
Co-Founder: Colorado Earth, Golden, CO
Lisa Morey is a professional engineer and architectural designer with over 16 years of experience in management, design, and construction, with a background in adobe brick construction. She is an author of “Adobe Homes for all Climates”, a book on how to build with adobe bricks. Lisa also holds a patent on an innovative building system that incorporates reinforcement and scaffolding into the adobe brick wall system. Lisa is Co-Founder of Colorado Earth LLC, based in Golden, Colorado. Colorado Earth manufacturers compressed earth blocks and adobe bricks, carries out design and engineering services, and constructs earthen walls.
General Manager, Lead Designer, Hands-on Building at Elevated Design-Build, Ft. Collins, CO
Elevated Design Build is a full-service design and construction company with over 60 years of combined experience in the design and construction of custom homes and timber frame structures. In that time, we have been involved in over 800 projects in 14 states and 4 different countries. We love this stuff, and have earned the ability to instill the things we value most into each of our projects and the way we operate our business.
Co-Founder: LoveSchack Architecture, Driggs, ID
Lindsey is committed to incorporating natural and raw materials wherever possible in any project. She has balanced her architectural and building career with many seasons of construction work doing everything from framing to fine plastering, electrical work and management. Also an educator, Lindsey has led natural building workshops in North Carolina and was a visiting lecturer at Universidad de Valle de Mexico and continues to teach natural materials workshops in her free time. She has a fierce belief that design enhances our experience through creating connection. Lindsey is a Certified Passive House Tradesperson and holds a Certificate in Healthy Materials from Parsons New School of Design, is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, a member of the American Institute of Architects and the International Living Future Institute. She holds her architectural license in Idaho.
Architect at LoveSchack Architecture, Helena, MT
Growing up in Alaska and now finding home in Montana, Kluane enjoys working as an Architect and advocating natural building materials’ ability to make a big impact on inhabitants’ lives, in balance with making minimal impact on the environment. In academia, she focused on natural building strategies for multigenerational housing in rural Alaska with the use of rammed earth and traditional turf roofs. Currently Kluane has helped design a straw bale panel home in Victor, ID which has sparked more interest in the local community to build consciously. Kluane is enthralled by the positive impact architectural design can have on individuals, families, and society at large. She believes that every project should both reflect and enhance the lives of its inhabitants. When not designing, she enjoys spending time in her garden, pottery, out hiking, on cross-country skis, or cozying up with friends and family.