Chelsea Green Publishing

The Natural Building Companion

Pages:416 pages
Book Art:Full-color illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603583398
Pub. Date May 01, 2012
eBook: 9781603583404
Pub. Date May 01, 2012

The Natural Building Companion

A Comprehensive Guide to Integrative Design and Construction

Building & Energy

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 01, 2012


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 01, 2012

$49.95 $39.96

Natural buildings not only bring satisfaction to their makers and joy to their occupants, they also leave the gentlest footprint on the environment. In this complete reference to natural building philosophy, design, and technique, Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton walk builders through planning and construction, offering step-by-step instructions on:

  • siting and site analysis
  • choosing materials
  • integrating basic structural considerations into a design
  • strategies for heating/cooling efficiency and moisture management
  • planning for acoustics
  • developing an integrative design
  • navigating budgeting, code compliance, and project management
  • creating the foundation, wall system, roof, and floors
  • selecting and making plasters and paints
  • evaluating options for mechanical and utility systems
  • protecting against fire and insects
  • integrating structures within landscape, climate, and human communities

...and more

Applicable to building in climates that are cold and wet, hot and dry, or somewhere in-between, The Natural Building Companion provides the tools necessary to understand basic principles of building science, including structural and thermal engineering, and hydrodynamics. This guide offers thorough, up-to-date, and advanced installation details and performance characteristics of straw-bale, straw-clay, woodchip-clay, and cellulose wall systems, as well as earthen and stone wall systems and a variety of framing, roofing, flooring, mechanical system, and finishing options. This fully-illustrated volume informs professionals making the transition from conventional building, homeowners embarking on their own construction, or green builders who want comprehensive guidance on natural-building options. A State-of-the-Art Resource for Natural Builders The Natural Building Companion is a part of The Yestermorrow Design/Build Library and includes an instructional DVD.


"A thorough treatment of both the context for and specifics of natural building, this book is a wealth of resources all in one place. Though geared to the Atlantic Northeast, there is still more than enough here to make it a must-read for natural builders everywhere."--Bruce King, author of Design of Straw Bale Buildings and Buildings of Earth and Straw

"Fun. Easy to Read. Details that are useful in just about any climate, but particularly in cold climates. As the title clearly states, this book is a true 'companion' to take along on one's natural building journey. A well-thought-out account of Jacob and Ace's experiences and the methods they have evolved over the years. One of the best natural building books published in recent years."--Bill Steen, coauthor, The Straw Bale House

"The Natural Building Companion is a joy to read. The approach is holistic, the style is generous, and the authors gracefully balance technical details, beautiful spaces, and big ecological questions. This book empowers the reader to make choices that matter-for their own home and for the health of our planet."--Paul Lacinski, coauthor of Serious Straw Bale

"This excellent and thoroughly researched book reflects the progression of natural building. It eloquently expresses the beautiful marriage between experience and experimentation, fact and anecdote, science and soul. Deva and Ace have built us a much needed bridge between natural building and green building. The Natural Building Companion will transform how we build!"--Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce, authors of Using Natural Finishes and Building with Cob

"The Natural Building Companion brings age-old building techniques and materials into the modern world. It is a comprehensive evaluation of natural building methods that shares results from up-to-date testing and monitoring, explains how these results apply to building codes, and covers new tools and resources that make installation more user-friendly and durable. By combining a wealth of information in a single volume, this book is indispensable to anyone wanting to build a healthy home using natural materials."--Will Beemer, director, The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts

"'What is a high-performance building?' Racusin and McArleton answer that question by taking a values-based approach that integrates social and ecological good with health, resource efficiency, and durability. Fusing the knowledge of the building-science community with the wisdom and experience of the best natural building practitioners, The Natural Building Companion provides plenty of detailed, how-to information to help readers create structures and communities that are, as the authors put it, 'worthy of our highest aspirations.'"--Marc Rosenbaum, founder, Energysmiths

Library Journal-
Builders and educators Racusin and McArleton bring all considerations of green construction to light. Their writing is articulate and their explanations are in-depth, but they provide little how-to. Chapters encompass a wide variety of natural construction methods and materials. The planning sections really shine. Verdict: This guide stands out for the wealth of information it provides on green construction basics and planning. A solid addition to building collections.


Jacob Deva Racusin

Jacob Deva Racusin is co-owner of New Frameworks Natural Building, a Vermont-based contracting and consulting business specializing in the integration of natural materials, holistic design principles, an intentional process to create high-performance structures of beauty. Jacob also teaches a series of natural building courses through the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Warren, Vermont. He has helped to develop the Natural Building Intensive Certificate Program, a twelve-week-long building education program in which a community of students build an entire structure in a real-world environment from start to finish in a curricular setting. Jacob has served as program director from 2008-09. Jacob is a member of Seven Generations Natural Builders, a natural building education collective that offers training in natural building technologies across the world. He is also a Certified Passive House Consultant.

Ace McArleton

Ace McArleton is co-owner of New Frameworks Natural Building, LLC, a Vermont-based contracting and consulting business specializing in the integration of natural materials, holistic design principles, an intentional process to create high-performance structures of beauty. Ace teaches at Yestermorrow Design/Build School, both within the Natural Building Intensive Certificate Program and in the general curriculum, and offers workshops on straw bale and natural building to diverse groups throughout the United States. Ace participates in professional organizations such as Natural Builders Northeast and the Timber Framers Guild.


October 17, 2015

Jacob Deva Racusin and Ace McArleton at the Art of Natural Building

202 Galisteo Street, Kingston, NM, 87501 | Ace McArleton
Jacob and Ace will speak at 5:00 PM on Saturday, October 17th about the future of green building at the Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Copies of "The Natural Building Companion" will be available for sale and signing at this event on ecological and healthy construction, which is sponsored by the Collected Works Bookstore and Builders Without Borders.

See all Events by this Author


Yestermorrow Summer Lecture Series 2012 - Ace McArleton & Jacob Deva Racusin

The Natural Building Companion DVD Trailer

How to Evaluate Airtightness in a Natural Building Using a Blower Door Test

How to Work with Straw Bales from The Natural Building Companion

How to Make Paint from Milk Curds

How to Do a Ribbon Test to Evaluate Site Soil for Natural Building

Timber Framing Techniques


Energy: Use Less-Save More

Energy: Use Less-Save More

By Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert

100 energy saving tips for everything in your home or business!

Did you know . . .

  • Heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical home
  • Energy-efficient light bulbs last about 12 times longer than ordinary bulbs, and consume about 1/5 of the energy
  • If we all turned off our TVs and other gadgets that are kept on stand-by, we could shut down a couple of power stations in the United States, with huge reductions in CO2 emissions
  • Our energy use is projected to increase 17% from 1995-2015
  • Our homes produce even more CO2 emissions than our cars

This book gives you 100 energy-saving tips for the home—from simple things like switching off unnecessary lights and having a shower instead of a bath, to more drastic measures such as installing a condensing boiler. If each one of us acts on just a few of these suggestions, we can save money—and help slow down climate change.



Available in: eBook

Read More

Energy: Use Less-Save More

Amanda Cuthbert, Jon Clift

eBook $7.95

The Cob Builders Handbook

The Cob Builders Handbook

By Becky Bee

Cob (an old English word for lump) is old-fashioned concrete, made out of a mixture of clay, sand, and straw. Becky Bee's manual is a friendly guide to making your own earth structure, with chapters on design, foundations, floors, windows and doors, finishes, and of course, making glorious cob.

"I believe that building with cob is a way to recreate community and experience the joy of working together while taking back the right to build our own homes and look after our Mother Earth."

She loves doing something that makes sense in a world where lots of things don't.

Available in: Paperback

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The Cob Builders Handbook

Becky Bee

Paperback $23.95

The Woodland House

The Woodland House

By Ben Law

Designed as a dual-purpose book, The Woodland House is both a volume for the armchair enthusiast and an inspirational guide for those wishing to build a similar structure. Beautifully illustrated with more than 100 color photos, this step-by-step guide shows how Ben built his home, hewn from his own woodland, for under $45,000. It covers the basics of self-building and gives full details of the evolving design process, the identifying of materials, costs, project management, and the actual building stages, from foundations and frames, through to interior features. Includes a seven-year update detailing the extension of the house, natural insulation trials, and round-wood engineering calculations.

The building of Ben’s house was filmed for the Grand Design television series and has proved to be the most popular program of the series. He has also been featured on the Discovery Channel and Home & Garden Network’s The World’s Most Extreme Homes.

Available in: Paperback

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The Woodland House

Ben Law, Kevin McCloud

Paperback $29.95

The Greened House Effect

The Greened House Effect

By Jeff Wilson

With greater public awareness of the need for energy independence, the issue of how we can make our existing homes more resource efficient is becoming ever more critical. Residential buildings make up a large fraction of our energy needs, largely due to heating and air-conditioning. So it's no longer enough to simply do the small stuff, like switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, or turning down the thermostat at night.

In The Greened-House Effect, author Jeff Wilson brings his twenty-five years of construction experience and knowledge of home building to bear on making our current houses cleaner, greener, and healthier. Think of a deep-energy retrofit (DER) as a "home makeover" - one that represents a significant investment, but that saves money from the get-go by capturing the energy you "drop on the ground" every month, every year, through inefficiency, poor design, or simply living in a typical older home.

Using his own family's DER of their 1942 home as a prime example, Wilson weaves a readable narrative at a practical, hammer-and-nail level. He presents the solutions to our building and energy problems, making them seem possible for average homeowners and small contractors by offering the right set of information, skills, and materials.

More technical information is presented in sidebars and graphs, and numerous color photos illustrate the process, including:

  • Testing the energy efficiency of your home and learning where improvements need to be made
  • Issues of local building codes and regulations
  • Financing and paying for a DER
  • Major components of the DER, such as roofs, exterior walls, basements, and home systems

Wilson's building experience, along with his lifelong passion for energy issues, all come together to form an inspirational, can-do approach to making our neighborhood, our community, our nation, and our world a better place - one home at a time.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

The Greened House Effect

Jeff Wilson

Paperback $29.95