source: Mark Piepkorn
About Natural Building
The pages in this section attempt to give a basic understading of the different elements of natural building found throughout a structure, and how they are best applied in the northeastern US climate. Please note that there are many more aspects to a complete building that what we list here; please refer to the resources page for more information, or contact a member to discuss your project.
Answering the question "What is natural building?" is much more of a conversation than a statement. While natural building is frequently identified by the materials built into the structure, it is much more than an assembly of materials, for even naturally sourced, minimally processed materials can be utilized in irresponsible and insensitive fashions. Natural building is approach to the building process that attempts to take into consideration the building's impact on the local environment and global ecology, local culture and global society, the needs and health of the owners, users, and inhabitants, and the quality and performance of the structure itself. There are many times when these interests are competeing, and a trade-off in, say, performance may be necessary so as not to compromise occupant health; herein lies the conversation
To be more specific, however, there are particular considerations given towards utilizing minimally processed, naturally sourced materials that are not technologically and industrially intensive. While building quality - such as thermal performance - his held as a high criteria, it is balanced against other factors, such as embodied energy and end-of-life impact. The impact of the structure on its community - in both positive and negative ways - is considered in design decisions and materials sourcing. A code of ethics is employed when evaluating what decisions to make in designing and building the structure; this is not a strict, highly defined code, but rather a personalized, case-specific code developed for that particular structure. In short, it is the process, as well as the product, that makes a natural building
As you explore further the pages listed within this section, you will see some of the ways natural building is found throughout a building, and begin to take part in this conversation yourself.