BWB Mongolian Tour of the Southwest

September – October, 2000

Many thanks to all those who helped Builders Without Borders to welcome the Mongolian UNDP delegation on their Straw-bale Research Tour of the US Southwest.

All along the way we found people willing to open their homes, and dedicate their time to sharing their experiences in straw-bale building with the Mongolian Team. All in all, the team toured 37 sites in 4 states including Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, and South Dakota, including attendance at the Second Nebraska Straw-bale Conference. Throughout the tour, the team was brought together with some of the most experienced straw-bale builders in the U.S. and worldwide.

Builders Without Borders is proud to have been able to support the Mongolian team in making personal and professional connections, coordinating the itinerary, providing logistical “ground” support, and helping to advance their work which may become a model project of global significance.

If you would like to know more details about the tour and specific itinerary, please contact Susan Klinker.

Project Details:

Builders Without Borders is pleased to announce that we will be hosting a delegation of Mongolian United Nations Development Program project officials for a 16-day Straw-Bale Study Tour of the US Southwest.
The team consists of Mongolian architectural and engineering professional and administrators who are currently involved in a multi-million dollar straw-bale building initiative. The model project has important implications for the use of straw-bale building technology in developing countries worldwide.

Plans have been confirmed for the team to arrive in Denver on September 17th. The tour will culminate with participation in the Nebraska Straw-Bale Conference the week-end of September 29th through October 1st.

The tour itinerary is shaping up to be an exciting and informative series of meetings. Throughout our planning, we have found people to be wonderfully willing to open their doors and share their knowledge and building experience with us. We are looking forward to a successful tour,
making new friends, and connecting further with the expanding network of natural builders worldwide.

BWB Members are invited to meet the team in person at one of the planned receptions, or at the Nebraska Straw-Bale Conference.

6:00 pm Monday, Sept. 18th – Reception at the Blackrange Lodge, 119 Main St., Kingston, New Mexico. (505) 895-5652

5:00 pm Friday, Sept. 22nd- Reception at Eco-Seco, sustainable urban development. 815 Camino Don Emilio, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hosted by Alan Hoffman, (505) 920-4444

A third reception is planned in Pueblo Colorado. However, last minute changes to the team’s arrival time has put plans on hold.

If you would like to become involved in the tour in some other capacity, please contact Susan Klinker at (505) 895-5400, preferably before this Friday, Sept. 15th


United Nations Development Program (UNDP) supported straw-bale work in Mongolia has important implications for the use of renewable energy technologies and natural building in development schemes worldwide. The project was started approximately 5 years ago by the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA), and has now become a large scale UNDP project involving the construction of schools, clinics, and hundreds of homes. Straw-bale building technologies provide a great benefit to the people of Mongolia, by providing low-cost super-insulated facilities which help to make the country’s limited financial resources stretch further than ever before.

Generally, the group of 5 arch/engineering officials will be seeking technical expertise, testing results, and code and permitting information, as well as troubleshooting some of the specific issues which have arisen in their unique environment. Upon return to Mongolia the team will relay information to other building professionals and technicians through training seminars, technical reports, media campaign, video, etc.


Mr. S. Ganbold. He is the National Project Coordinator of our project and, as such, is responsible for the day-to-day management of the project. By training, he is a mining engineer, but he has worked for the past ten years in management positions, first within something called the National Development Board, then within the Ministry of Finance, and for the past 3 years on this project. His interests are general, and starting this year he will manage a new phase of our project focusing on straw-bale housing. He speaks good English and will serve as main interpreter for the group.

Ms. G. Sarantuya. She is a construction engineer and works in the Agency for Construction and Architecture. Among other things, she is the main ACA counterpart for the project. She participates in management decisions concerning about the project in Ulaanbaatar, cooperates in technical aspects of the project related to research and building codes, and participates in monitoring trips with project staff to our construction sites. Her primary interest will be on design principles and construction techniques for straw-bale structures. Ms. Sarantuya speaks no English.

Mr. Ts. Sharaa. He is also a construction engineer, a consultant for ACA and director of an engineering consulting firm called Monseis. Most importantly for us, he is the lead consultant currently under contract to develop the national building codes for straw-bale construction in Mongolia. As such, his main interests are scientific and technical – he’s always very serious about his calculations, numbers and figures. Mr. Shataa also speaks no English.

Mr. Ya. Nyamsaihan. He is chief engineer in the Engineering Design Bureau of the Erdenet Corporation. As such, he led the group that designed the 12 straw-bale kindergartens and health clinics that were built under the project this year. The project also retained his services as Resident Engineer on these projects, to be responsible for construction inspection and monitoring. But better yet, the Erdenet Corporation has a 1200-member credit union, and about half of its members need and want housing. Erdenet is looking at straw-bale as an inexpensive alternative, and has agreed in principle to build straw-bale housing for about 40 families next year. Nyamsaihan will lead the design of about 10-20 model homes, and Erdenet will finance their construction. Mr Nyamsaihan speaks very limited English.

Ms. Sa. Enkhtuya. She is the project officer within the UNDP office responsible for monitoring our project. She does not have a technical background, but she is responsible for seeing that the project meets its objectives. Like all UNDP staff, she is interested in issues related to poverty reduction, and will be interested during this trip to learn more about low-cost housing options and financing for the poor. She speaks excellent English, and will share the job of interpretation with Ganbold. Unfortunately, she will not be able to participate in the whole trip. Sh will join the group when it passes through Denver the second time.

All of the above are forty-something-ish. All have masters degrees. And several of them studied in Russia and speak Russian fluently.

Mongolian Straw-Bale Research Tour

Sept. 12- 16- Canadian Research Tour, based from Alberta.
Sept. 17- 25- Southwest Research Tour.
Sept. 26- Oct.3- Nebraska Conference and Tour.

Southwest Research Tour (BWB coordination)
Sept. 17- Sun.- Arrive in Denver, from Alberta
Meeting w/ Owen Geiger and Robert Andrews, BWB & Habitat for Humanity visit/tour 2 Habitat for Humanity Houses Meetings w/ Larry Bogard, designer, SB office, Tom Reilly Architect, Clint Tawes code official
6:00 pm Reception in Pueblo hosted by Owen Geiger TO BE CONFIRMED
Overnight in Pueblo at the home of Pastor Sid Skirvin and wife Shirley.

Sept. 18- Mon.- early morning departure for Kingston, NM ( full day of travel)
6:00 pm Reception at the Black Range Lodge (C. Wanek – slide show of BWB
European & award-winning Belarussian SB initiative) Participants include members from the Arizona SB community and Mike Comier (El Paso Solar Energy Assoc.)
Overnight at Black Range Lodge.

Sept. 19- Tues.- AM tour of Kingston SB, including greenhouse, guest house, chicken coop, plus straw-bale home with steel post & beam framework in progress.
Steve MacDonald (SB Author, BWB) & Sue Mullen’s low-cost Post & Beam straw-bale houses & SB construction in progress. Lunch hosted by Steve & Nena MacDonald.
Evening Presentation at Hogan at Sacred Mountain Camp, near Laguna Pueblo. Review and Discussion of Navajo Hogan and similarities between Monglian and Native American cultures.
Overnight at Sacred Mountain Camp (guest house.)

Sept. 20- Wed. morning departure for Albuquerque (1.5 hrs drive)
Meet with Cadmon Whitty, Tour his home renovation, retrofit SB exterior, many half bale and sculptural interior walls. Lunch hosted by the Whitty Family.
Tour Straw Bale Garden Walls
Tour Passive Solar Home at 2621 Decker, NW, home w/ 5 years energy accounting.
Corrales Post Office, Joe Fortin, Award Winning Green Builder.
New Mexico Solar Energy Association ( passive solar design)
Optional Cultural Event- New Mexico State Fair
Overnight in Albuquerque at the Home of Derek Roff & Dorothy Stermer Sept. 21- Thurs. Early morning departure for Santa Fe/Pojoaque.
Meet w/ Scott Pittman (Pojoaque, SB/Adobe, masonry stove, permaculture landscape in progress)
Christ in the Desert Monastery – Adobe & SB, off the grid solar PV system (with architect Janice Vascott & PV solar designer.)
Lunch at Monastery (or Ghost Ranch)
Meet w/ Tony Perry -Steel Frame, Complete Owner Builder Systems
8 SB homes within 1 mile of Tony’s Home.
Overnight at home of Rob Althouse & Nancy Kenney (yurt).
Mary Lowe House on Reservation lands (optional- video)

Sept. 22- Fri.-Full day in Santa Fe Region
Meeting with Living Structures: Danny Buck
slide show on straw-bale Construction, presentation of dataloggers, moisture monitors, moisture/mold studies, prepared by Carl Rosenberg,
Meeting with Fermin Aragon of NM Construction Industries; State planning and permitting official, involved in finalization of SB codes for state of NM. (meet in city office very close by)
Tour Joan Baker House- fairly high end house in downtown Santa Fe.
Lunch at Cloudcliff Bakery- Organic wheat farmers and bakers. Lunch will include a brief presentation on what they do, and how it links with larger issues of sustainability. (2 blocks from Living Structures office)
Tour Goodwin house, small, simple, low cost house.
Tour Beneficial Farms- 2 story SB and adobe structure with attached greenhouse.
5:00pm Public Reception at Eco Seco sustainable urban development, hosted by Allan Hoffman, w/Alternative Building Alliance, Greenbuilding Assoc., SBCA, etc. Brief presentation by Mongolian Group.(20 min.) Brief Presentation by Alan Hoffman and/or Rob Althouse.
7:00 pm Reception for Straw-bale community at Eco- Seco, Music and Dancing

Sept. 23- Sat.- Day off, cultural activities and shopping. (Wallmart, Santa
Fe Market)
Optional Cultural Activity-
“Gathering for Mother Earth” at Pojoaque Powwow grounds
Depart for Alamosa/Crestone, Colorado

Sept. 24- Sun.-Morning tour of the home of Teresa Benns, load-bearing, code-approved owner-builder home.
Meet w/ Straw Bale Broker Jerry Gomez
Presentation of ranges of quality in bales.
Meet w/ farmers, demonstrate baling process
Potential meeting w/ Baling Machinery sales rep.
Various High Altitude Cold Climate Bldgs. in Crestone
Meeting w/ Kelly & Rosana Hart, earthbag and scorria home.
Tour Sanctuary House, meeting w/ William and Barbara Howell.
Intro./Tour, Haidakhandi Universal Ashram, SB, adobe, & earthship.
Vegetarian Supper at the Ashram and optional evening service (singing/chimes)
Overnight at the Ashram, in the new SB Dorm.

Sept. 25- Mon.-morning departure for Colorado Springs
Meet w/ Kiva Construction at the home of Kimber & Elizabeth Janney.
Home renovation in progress, possible tour of nearby new SB home.
Lunch hosted by the Janney’s. Additional guests include Architect Bill Beard, Sarah Mock and Ray Ferguson, and Owen Geiger.
Meet w/ Bill Beard, SB Chapel in Littleton/ Catholic Church
Overnight in Denver/ Englewood at the home of Sherry Litasi

Bill Harmsen coord. AM in Boulder
Jeff Ruppert, Engineer, Testing Program presentation
Depart after lunch for Nebraska (6-7 hrs travel time)
Or depart late afternoon and drive to Ogallala.

Sept. 27- Wed.- Nebraska Historic Bale Building Tour

Sept. 28- Thurs.- Drive to Halsey Conference site, conference registration

Sept. 29- Fri.- 2nd Nebraska Straw-bale Conference

Sept. 30- Sat.- 2nd Nebraska Straw-bale Conference

Oct. 1- Sun. – 2nd Nebraska Straw-bale Conference

Oct. 2- Mon.- Depart for Denver – Overnight in Denver

Oct. 3- Tues.- Depart to Beijing via San Francisco. 8 am.