New architectural forms, simpler construction, and humane community plans are emerging from a new architectural ecological awareness in the world today. SFIA is leading the way in ecological design education. SFIA strives to raise awareness about ecological design and encourage the development of design programs to educate architects, consultants, advisors and faculty members who will create future programs. Students who enroll in SFIA’s Ecological Design program do not have to be students of architecture. The program and individual courses are open to anyone seeking a career in Ecological Design or related profession as well as anyone in the design profession who wants to pursue eco- related disciplines.
The Ecological Think Tank
This course is an exploration of the science of ecology. Students study Ecology, its historical development, and how we measure and understand our place in the ecosphere. We will review some of the basics of our earth’s nature systems, how physical and biological processes work together, and how we as humans fit within that system. Includes a mixture of lectures, visuals, open discussion and group work. Weekend field trips may be included.
This course is a broad introduction to real world design and construction with alternative materials, alternative energy systems, waste disposal, plantscaping, permaculture, and healthy environments.
Principles of Ecological Design
Ecological Design is a new approach to architecture and planning, one where natural processes and indigenous materials are part of construction, and the environment is a fundamental determinant of the design. This course is a comprehensive introduction and overview. The course covers the essential principles and skills for ecologically sensitive design. Includes ecological construction methods, building technologies, and discussions of professional design practice and construction in the context of Ecological Design. Includes site orientation, solar and wind design, alternative materials, waste disposal, recycled materials etc.
Architects & Builders of Ecological Design
In this course, a series of guest architects and builders describe their work and the nuts and bolts of professional practice specifically in the realm of ecological design. Includes details of client relations, real estate development, building department issues, and problems and solutions in dealing with alternative materials and energy systems.
LEED & Other Green Building Certifications
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) has become the most important and influential movement in green building. Those who learn the LEED system of certifying buildings can take an examination to become a LEED-Accredited Professional and be qualified to offer LEED consulting services. This course presents the LEED system in detail, plus vitally important related professional training, for work in all aspects of ecological design, sustainable planning, and green building.
Ecological Design Consulting
This course focuses on how to start, manage, and expand an independent ecological design consulting service. Includes details of business planning, startup, marketing, finance, and the wide range of services you can provide to help clients along, toward ecological design and green building. This is an important course for architects and builders, as well as independent design consultants of all types.
Six Eco Architects: Lessons Learned
The first class of its kind — a video-based study of the work and practices of 6 outstanding professionals in ecological design, building, and architecture. Some subjects of the class will be presented on video, not in person. Each session will review the subject’s work, followed by discussion of the crucial issues of professional life: how to find clients, how to get buildings approved and constructed, how to experiment and learn from your successes and failures. This class offers an unforgettable combination of hands-on practical knowledge and inspired visionary creativity. The Six Architects: Eugene Tsui, world-famous nature-inspired architect and author of Evolutionary Architecture, Phil Hawes, architect of the Biosphere 2 and planner of a new wave of eco villages. Steve Heckeroth, one of Northern California’s leading doers in solar design. Penny Livingston, Director of the Northern California Permaculture Institute. Bart Prince, one of the nation’s most accomplished advocates of creative organic and nature-based architecture. Donald MacDonald, one of San Francisco’s most singularly inventive architects; architectural designer of the new San Francisco Bay Bridge.
Students in this class visit the leading Eco Design, construction sites and practitioners of the Bay area. Meet the pioneers in person, and fully experience the impact of their work. Report or visual documentation required for credit.
Universal Green Work Study
Discover the world’s greatest educational resources for green building, and help make that information available on the Internet. This course will teach systematic research methods, creative problem solving, and information management, in the world’s most important emerging industry. This is a work-study course that will create the core database for the SFIA Universal Green program of freely accessible green education for everyone. This course is excellent preparation for administration, database management, and/or teaching. Full participation in research projects is required.
Green Project Management Seminar
The skillful management of a project is crucial to the accomplishment of green objectives. This class will emphasize powerful and little-known techniques of project management, as well as specific approaches to help achieve positive environmental results. This intensive introductory seminar focuses on core skills and techniques to accomplish your project’s green goals. We’ll combine proven best practices with unique approaches for ecologically advanced projects. Topics include: project set up, often-missed essentials for starting your project, how to guide programming and project priorities, quality assurance time savers, contracts, the key to cost control on green projects, behind the scenes at certifying systems, best ways to benefit the construction process, team dynamics, codes, certifications, green rating systems such as LEED. We will discuss many situations from real projects. The core discipline will be green architecture, but the course is open to all students and design, sustainability and consulting professions.
Site & Sun: Bioclimatic Design
Experts in design, site relationship, construction technology and solar energy team up to provide detailed instruction in site analysis and architectural design that are fully integrated with the land, wind, and solar orientation of the site. Topics include: comprehensive methods for understanding and working with land, how to fully understand and “feel” solar orientation, learning from the history of the land, raising your capacity for conscious awareness and observation, methods of native trackers, how to interview and learn from those who know your building site best, finding and using little-known, invaluable sources of site information. This class also includes the bonus of a wealth of background on Bay Area history, climate, biology, and ecology. Note: Spring is an ideal season to take this course
Exterior & Interior Plantscaping
A course on the complete integration of plants, planting systems, and natural and human-made ecosystems. Textbook: Design for Human Ecosystems: Landscape, Land Use, and Natural Resources, by John Tillman Lyle and Joan Woodward
Bamboo: An In-Depth Hands-On Introduction
Bamboo, for many a pernicious weed, has long been a part of everyday life in cultures because of its beauty, versatility, and strength. These qualities are gaining fame among architects and designers, as they see bamboo in a new context: as a versatile, ecologically sound design resource deserving much further use in the U.S. Through interactive instruction and hands-on projects, we’ll explore bamboo from its anatomy to its poetry, it’s biological and botanic background to its many practical and economical applications in architecture and product design. Includes guest speakers and field trips.
Green Cities & Eco Villages: Urban Ecology
How cities and communities can be designed according to the same principles used in the finest examples of ecological architecture. Numerous case studies past, present, and newly planned will show the theory, practical problems and solutions of ecological design and planning on a large scale.
Nature’s Course is an exploration of your senses, your perception, your relationship with nature, and how to better see and use natural materials. Topics include: site reading, building shelter, plant wisdom, nature’s palate: colors, textures, elements, composition. Group interactions, self explorations and a nature trek will increase awareness of sensory and observational skills, communication, and nature’s cycles.
Everything Eco: Green Building Workshop
This course has been presented as a workshop to architects in every major city in the U.S. It is the most comprehensive introduction and overview of green building design, construction and alternative environmental and energy systems to be found anywhere. Topics include alternative materials and construction methods, green walls, green roofs, plantscaping, natural and free electricity, lighting, heating, and cooling, bioremediation and site remediation construction ecology, Creating completely self-sufficient buildings that produce surplus energy to sell and to power cars and trucks; to process waste and sewage; to remove pollutants; to add oxygen to the air; to improve human health and to enhance the natural environment.
Bucky Fuller & the Future of Architecture
This course presents theory and techniques for designing and building structures of extraordinary economy, efficiency, and ecological sensitivity. Students are encouraged to apply unique problem solving and design thinking to problems of their choice, using creative methods evolved by Bucky Fuller and Jay Baldwin.
Creative Green Buildings
How to design and construct buildings that produce more energy than they use, provide their own water, eat pollution, grow food, clean the air, improve health, and eliminate waste. Applying the latest in creative design and problem-solving methods to green building planning, design, and construction. Includes a complete summation of everything happening in green building, from earth building to solar energy, to buildings that do it all.
The Art, Technology, Design & Construction of Living Roofs & Green Walls
With modern technology and an understanding of how the natural world works, architecture and ecology take on a symbiotic relationship. Steel, concrete and wood become foundations and habitats for plants, water, animals, and insects. Soil and plant material can protect and enrich the very structures on which they reside. Rana Creek’s Living Architecture Division is pioneering the field of vegetative structures. We design restorative, ecologically functioning buildings and landscapes that actually convert waste streams into fuel and close the building resource loop. This course is taught by Fred Stitt and guest speakers including Paul Kephart, the world’s leading expert on green roofs and creator of the green roof at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco; Ingrid Severson of the Green Roofs Program for Bay Localize. Class topics include the multiple advantages of green roofs and green walls, and why they’re being adopted in all major cities across the U.S. and around the world, the many varieties of design and construction of green roofs and green walls. Case studies: the best of the newest green roofs, small and large. Green walls inside and out: even more advantageous than green roofs, choosing plant species, growth media, latest information sources. Retrofitting existing buildings — huge new career opportunities.
Designer in Nature
In this special SFIA workshop, we will be in Marin County, immersing ourselves in the natural world. This workshop includes: Native awareness techniques, advanced solar orientation, ways of the animals, birds and plants, community and ecology, learning by experience. Please note that this workshop includes a fair amount of physical activity. This workshop will be held on wild land near Mt. Tamalpais. After enrolling, you will receive information on the specific workshop location and logistics.
Greenhouse and Daylighting; Design & Construction of Green Walls & Green Ceilings
Buildings are the greatest single source of human-caused greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere, and buildings accumulate numerous toxins and pollutants within. Buildings can eliminate these gasses and pollutants and add oxygen to enhance interior and exterior air quality. Learn the theory, design, and practice of eco plantscaping. Learn how to design exterior and interior vertical gardens.
Becoming An Ecological Design Professional
How to gain expertise in ecological design, find employment, and establish yourself in eco design, green building, and ecological design consulting. Includes the financial and technical nuts and bolts of Ecological Design, marketing, business planning, and the basics of gaining LEED Accredited Professional status.
Intern Study For An Eco Design Case Study
This course is an up-close, direct observation of ecological architecture in the making. Observe and assist in the decision making and design process of a real project: a nature-based design for a totally autonomous home to be built by owner-builders. Students in this class will be considered later for participation in construction and construction observation. See how the design program is created, how site plan and floor plan options are chosen, and how final decisions are made. Join in the selection of materials and construction systems, and learn how design professionals establish criteria for making the wisest choices among a confusing array of possibilities. See how the design process integrates site, climate, and materials with bioclimatic design, heating, air quality, and nontoxic materials.
Learn the most daring and successful green building innovations of our time and how to create your own innovative green design techniques. Includes how to make buildings that clean the air inside and outside, provide clean drinking water, grow food, process sewage, and produce clean energy that can also power emissions-free cars, trucks and manufacturing plants.