USBG Eco House Team

The Canelo Project, Athena & Bill Steen
Darren Molnar-Port
DeBoer Architects, Darryl DeBoer
Derek Roff, co-director of BWB
Earth & Straw, Inc., Rosemary Morin
Eric Hempstead, Natural Builder
Green Builders, Inc., Polly Bart
Green Weaver Inc., Laura Bartels
Heliconworks, Bill Hutchins
Kleiwerks, Massey Burkes
Kleiwerks, Michael (Meka) Bunch
Mark Schueneman
MudStrawLove, Steve Kemble & Mollie Curry
Natural Builders Inc., Marisha Farnsworth & Keven Rowell
OKOKOK Productions, Kaki Hunter & Doni Kiffmeyer
One-World-Design, Kelly Lerner
Sam Droege, Catherine Wanek & Pete Fust

USBG Eco House Sponsors

Builders Without Borders is most appreciative of our generous supporters listed below (in aphabetical order).
Event Sponsors:
American Clay, New Mexico

Amicus Green Building Center, Maryland

BondedLogic UltraTouch Insulation, Arizona

Betty Wanek, Arizona

Henry (Ed) Raduazo, Virginia

Indigo Engineering Group, Washington, D.C.

Kraftwerks Sheet Metal & Slate, Inc., Washington, D.C.
Shawn Watson, owner

New Society Publishers, British Columbia, Canada

Patricia McArdle, Virginia

Sam Droege & Kappy Laning, Maryland

The U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C.

Bill Hutchins, Architect, Maryland

Laughing Dog Productions, Washington, D.C.
Tom Donohue, Connie Reinhold

The Lifebridge Foundation, New York

Elizabeth Floyd & James Thomas, Washington, D.C.

Furbish Co., Green building, Maryland
Michael Furbish

Polly Bart, Contractor, Maryland

Solar Energy International, Colorado

Community Forklift, Maryland

Gibbs Smith, Publisher, Utah

Nature Neutral, Virginia

Permaculture Credit Union, New Mexico

Clay Works Supplies, Inc., Maryland

Jean Hanson, Wisconsin
Down to Earth -Sigi Koko, Pennsylvania


Tyler Brown
Qian Chen
Ann Curtsingen
Jennifer Dinglas
Deb Friedman
K.L. Kyde
Bob Larson
Martha Larson
Zena Nason
Jessie Steiger
Tom Steiger
Dan Triman

Please help BWB bring awareness of energy-efficient straw bale and natural building to the steps of Capitol Hill. Support a summer of sustainability at the BWB natural building exhibit by donating, becoming a sponsor, and becoming a member.

US Botanical Garden

……………………………………………………………………………………….. ……...…...….photos by Bill Steen

Visitors to the Builders Without Borders’ exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden could step inside a small building with tall walls of stacked straw bales plastered inside with a variety of beautiful polished clay finishes. Outside the walls are coated with a durable lime plaster and slate, and topped with a long-lasting standing-seam metal roof.

Visitors could also view the Capitol through a strong adobe arch, and relax beneath a bamboo shade trellis to read about America’s traditional green-building heritage, from cliff dwellings and adobe pueblos of the Southwest, to an historic straw-bale church still standing strong in the Nebraska sandhills.

The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) organized the 2008 exhibition, called “One Planet – Ours!” to showcase sustainable techniques and technologies including edible school yards, urban orchards, a solar greenhouse, photovoltaic panels, residential wind turbines, green roofs and rainwater harvesting. The USBG is adjacent to the National Mall, across the street from the U.S. Capitol.

Read about the BWB Strawbale Eco-house in the “Roll Call”, the daily newspaper of Congress.

Straw bales may be the most economical and ecological material available for construction today. After a cereal grain is harvested, the remaining hollow stalks of straw can be inexpensively baled into super-insulating building blocks, and quickly stacked into walls by a volunteer crew with little or no building experience. Protected with a proper foundation, roof and plaster, bale walls could last a century or longer, providing an attractive and energy-efficient building envelope for human habitation.

Visitors to the BWB exhibit at the USBG can experience the heat and sound insulating qualities of straw-bale walls, and look inside the wall through a “truth window” that reveals its straw construction. The ceiling is insulated with a cotton batt insulation made from recycled denim, called Ultratouch. Overhead, the oak ceiling boards were crafted from reclaimed fencing. And most of the timber used in the building was locally harvested and milled.

Outside, a traditional lime plaster seals and protects the bale walls from precipitation, insects and fire. Sheltering the walls from above is a beautiful and durable standing-seam metal roof, that can last for a century or more.

The variety of lovely interior plaster finishes are all clay based. The BWB building team applied both locally harvested Maryland and Virginia clay plasters, and a just-add-water plaster product called American Clay, that comes in a rainbow of colors.

The BWB exhibit also demonstrates the versatility of earth as a building material, including a traditional adobe arch and “cob” seating benches. Bamboo, a fast-growing versatile plant, was also employed to create a shade structure, with seating underneath, inviting visitors to relax in a tranquil corner of the USBG. Eco-house – Fact Sheet

Inside the Strawbale Ecohouse, a table of books donated by New Society Publishers and Gibbs Smith, Publisher, offer more information about energy-efficient, ecological, and healthy building materials, technology and design.

To create the BWB exhibit, an experienced team of builders assembled from New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, California and North Carolina, ably assisted by local volunteers. Regional “green” businesses and professionals supported the building by donating and delivering materials, including Amicus Green Building Center, Nature Neutral, Community Forklift, Clayworks, and the Habitat For Humanity Restore.

The dozens of other exhibitors at the U.S. Botanic Garden include the Department of Energy (DOE), National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL), The Nature Conservancy, the American Horticultural Society, the SmartGrowth Network, and many more. (click here for a full list of exhibitors.)

USBG horticulturist and event coordinator Ray Mims says, “Our hope is that this will be a fun, interesting, thought-provoking experience for our visitors. Our goal is to provide the public with take home messages, empower them with knowledge, and motivate them to get involved in some manner.”

For more information on the One Planet Ours! Exhibition, visit

Please help BWB educate about energy-efficient building strategies to housing professionals, government staffers, and visitors to the National Mall. Support the BWB presentation series and the strawbale eco-house exhibit by donating, becoming a sponsor, and becoming a member.

2008 USBG Sustainability Exhibits

2008 USBG Sustainability Exhibits as of 1/28/08

One Planet – Ours!
The theme of one planet is the unifying theme and will also be demonstrated by COOL GLOBES that will be placed throughout the out of door gardens and inside.

1. Philly Orchard Project – Urban Orchard
2. National Wildlife Federation –Back yard Habitat
3. American Horticultural Society –Green Garage
4. Longwood Gardens – Sustainable Garden
5. EPA Greenscapes- Green front yard
6. Department of Energy – Anatomy of a House
7. Sustainable Sites Initiative – Sustainable Garden
8. SmartGrowth Network – Edible Schoolyard
9. Local Food / Fresh Farm Markets – Vegetable Garden
10. Water for People
11. Builders Without Borders – Strawbale Display & “America’s Green Building Traditions”
12. Mariah Power – Vertical Wind Turbine
13. Solar American Initiative – NG pergola
14. Dept of Energy – Alternative Energy Technology – around outside of NG lawn
15. LBJ Wildflower Center – 1st Ladies Water Garden
16. Earth Partnership – curved wall
17. ACTrees; UNEP; Casey – Tree exhibit NG west turf
18. City of Seattle – Green Factor
19. Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance
20. NAPPC – butterfly garden
21. BGCI – conservation
22. IUCN – Red List
23. NREL – alternative energy work
24. ASLA – green roof
25. American Natural History Museum H2O exhibit panels
26. UMD & NE land grant university extension – Landscape Bloopers
27. EPA Energy Star info printed on table ‘covers’ – (things you can do at home)
28. The Nature Conservancy – invasive species trail (inside and out)
29. Peace Corps
30. UMD & NE land grant university extension services – Turf plot
31. EPA – Green Roof
32. Water collection – East side rain garden from roof
33. DOE solar panels – Southside roof
34. UNEP photos – One Planet Many People
35. Center for New American Dream
36. Chesapeake Bay Foundation
37. National Arboretum – Power Plants
38. MNH- Dig it!
39. Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance
40. P3 Expo and Appalachian State – passive solar/affordable greenhouses
41. Sustainable Sites Initiative