Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods

Building Green covers cordwood building in detail along with other popular building methods.
Building Green covers cordwood building in detail along with other popular building methods.

Earth Plaster * Straw Bale * Cordwood * Cob * Living Roofs

“Clarke Snell and Timothy L. Callahan, whose popular Good House Book helped environmentally-minded readers create an earth-friendly home, have returned with a photo-packed, amazingly complete, start-to-finish guide to “green” housebuilding.

This absolutely groundbreaking manual doesn’t just talk about eco-friendly building techniques, but actually shows every step! More than 1,200 close-up photographs, along with in-depth descriptions, follow the real construction of an alternative house from site selection to the addition of final-touch interior details. Co-authors Clarke Snell and Timothy Callahan (a professional builder and contractor) provide thorough discussions of the fundamental concepts of construction, substitutes for conventional approaches, and planning a home that’s not only comfortable and beautiful, but environmentally responsible. Then, they roll up their sleeves and get to work assembling a guest house that incorporates four different alternative building methods: straw bale, cob, cordwood, and modified stick frame. The images show every move: how the site is cleared, the basic structure put together, the cob wall sculpted, the bales and cordwood stacked, a living roof created, and more. Most important, the manual conveys real-world challenges and processes, and offers dozens of sidebars with invaluable advice. It’s head and shoulders above all others in the field.”

The Building Green book is available at
Building Green: Nauhaus Building Repository has tons of great photos and great ideas.

10 thoughts on “Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods”

  1. Just purchased the 2009c 2nd revised edition.

    Page 10 provides a website that is to include a “WEB” update. (One of the reasons I purchased it).
    The website does not work. Anyone know about the website?

  2. Great book from expert to begginer…

    Earthbag is left out because it does not fit well with the structure built- a small guest house with a green roof and 4 walls built with a different technique

    Definetly a must read to anyone interested in learning more about alternative building methods

  3. This book does a masterful job of outlining the building of a small guest house, each wall being constructed using a different natural building technique. I’d have to look at my well-worn copy, but I believe the authors DO mention earthbag. The reason there is no extensive coverage of earthbag is simply because it is not one of the mediums they chose to build with.

    I would love it if these two builders put out a sequel using four other techniques (including earthbag).

    This is a great book, even for earthbaggers.

  4. Earthbags NOT covered hunh? Thanks for the heads up. That IS disappointing. Still, it may be a good read to get other ideas to include in an earthbag build but, Jay maybe you know more about this book and have seen it. Do you think it’s still a good book to pick up? How about you Owen? I do wonder now why earthbags wouldn’t have been included IF they cover other type building????

    • I always prefer to skim books in a good bookstore before buying. Many books only cover the basics which are widely covered on the Internet for free.

  5. In my experience, every “Complete How-To Guide” book always leaves something out.

    Every – Single – One

    Perhaps that is why earthbag was left out. Murphy’s Law of Completeness demanded it.

    Then again, the authors happen to be professional contractors. Perhaps earthbag simply isn’t profitable enough for them to have any experience with.

    • It looks like a really good book. I wonder though why they didn’t cover earthbag building? Earthbag is in the same category as strawbale building, cordwood, etc. They also didn’t mention earthbag in their Mother Earth News article (upcoming blog post).


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