Building a Natural Future with Joe Kennedy

“Joseph Kennedy is an architectural designer, writer, artist and filmmaker who specializes in sustainable building, ecological design, and community development. After many years of teaching sustainable building techniques in Africa, Asia, Europe, United States and South America, he now teaches architecture at NewSchool of Architecture & Design. Joe is a co-founder of the organization Builders Without Borders, and international network of ecological builders who advocate the use of local, affordable materials in construction. Widely published in journals, proceedings and books, he also co-edited The Art of Natural Building, now in its greatly expanded second edition.”


6 thoughts on “Building a Natural Future with Joe Kennedy”

  1. I live in CA and I will pit my 1888 farm house against any new sustainable construction. My home was supposed to be burned down by the local fire department. I got it for free and spent 28 years of my life saving it and restoring it. If it had been burned to the ground, many more resources would have been necessary to replace it. Sustainability is about not wasting what we have, even when it is inconvenient and time consuming to salvage it. I still have many of the original windows in the house. I have been told they are inefficient and should be replaced. Says who? I heat with an energy efficient wood stove, cut my own dead wood off my property, and because I know how to open and close windows and doors at the right time, I use no air conditioning, My water heater is on a timer which allows it to only run 3 hours a day. I installed solar panels which feed the grid. I don’t use appliances unless necessary. I could go on and on but you get the general idea. On the other hand, I have friends whose electric bills are 6X what mine are and they have all the energy efficient “green” homes with all the “whistles and bells.” Bottom line, lifestyle is everything. In my opinion, the style and the size of home you have is irrelevant. Building materials are irrelevant. Once a home is built, if it is well cared for, it can last for hundreds of years. Truly in my opinion, life style is all that matters. When I sold my last house, the new owner called to complain that I had lied about my energy usage. Hers was 4X higher than mine had been. I didn’t lie. She was just an energy hog. I have planted many thousands of douglas fir trees on my current property. They are now 25 years old. Future generations will benefit from those trees. When I arrived on my property, it had been commercially farmed. The soil was clay and compacted. The pastures were ruined. I have amended and amended with wood chips and straw and leaves and pine needles and anything else I could gather. I now have lots of earth worms and beautiful soil. I can actually grow something here now. We need to learn that we actually need less than what we think we “need” and we need to focus on leaving future generations with a little more than we have consumed while we were on this planet: we have to leave the earth in better condition than it was in when we arrived. So many people talk about sustainability but do nothing to further it. Any resource we use, no matter how sustainable must be replaced or it is simply not sustainable. So many people rely on others to do their replacing. They talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk. That is wrong. Our throw away society is what is causing the problems for our planet, along with our never ending obsession for traveling via cars and airplanes. Most people think that it is someone else that is causing the problems but it isn’t. We are all our own worst enemies.

  2. This is wonderful, and just what I’ve been looking for! I’m looking to transition into natural building as a profession. How can I be taught by this man?


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