sustainable design and construction

This is a unique opportunity to learn all aspects of the design and construction of sustainable shelters. Colby-Sawyer College will build a new classroom on campus in the fall of 2013 illustrating our strategic theme of “Living Sustainably.” The building will use timber frame wall techniques, straw bale wall construction, natural building materials and passive solar heating. This program will involve you in creating a beautiful and unique sustainable building while teaching you the techniques, systems and materials you'll need to create your own.

Starting in September 2012, students will take three courses (Part 1 in the Fall of 2012, Part 2 in Spring 2013, and Part 3 in Fall 2013) leading up to the final completion of the building. In the process, you will learn about topics like building science and building performance, the design process, materials, construction planning, timber frame techniques and many more.

Students taking all three courses will qualify for a full Certificate of Completion in Sustainable Design and Construction. This is unique once-off opportunity for builders and designers to learn the principles, apply them, and construct a building on campus.

Building the Sunshack

Blending the Classroom with the jobsite, we'll collectively create a “Sunshack” to serve as a living classroom. We'll explore:

  • Passive Solar Design
  • Designing with Natural Materials
  • Rainwater Collection
  • Traditional Timber Frame design and joinery
  • Straw Bale walls
  • Super-insulated roof systems
  • Natural Plasters
  • Cob and Cordwood Construction
  • Photovoltaics

Curriculum Outline

The Program, both classroom and jobsite, will be led by Steve Whitman and Bryan Felice and will have the following format:

Semester 1 (September to December 2012): Shelter and Sustainability, $1,500

  • Sustainability and the built environment
  • Site assessment
  • Health: personal and planetary
  • Appropriate technology and material sourcing
  • Building Science and Building performance
  • Consensus Decision Making
  • Green and Natural Building

Semester 2 (January to May 2013): The Living Building, $2,000

  • Construction planning
  • Worker and worksite safety
  • Timber framing with native wood and lumber
  • Green and Natural Building
  • Design Process: administrative and aesthetic
  • Designing with renewable energy
  • Community education and sustainable structures
  • Drafting

Semester 3 (September to October 2013): Project Completion, $1,000

  • Construction planning
  • Worker and worksite safety
  • Timber framing with native wood and lumber
  • Straw bale and slip straw wall systems
  • Natural plasters
  • Putting it all in place
  • Community involvement
  • Finishing
  • The surrounding landscape
  • Celebration!

Instructor Biographies

Steve Whitman is a professional planner with Jeffery H. Taylor & Associates, focusing on community planning and sustainability issues through the lens of natural systems-thinking and ecology. He is both a local and international educator and adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University where he teaches environmental and community planning, permaculture, and sustainability. Steve's teaching is informed by converting his in-town lot into a living permaculture model, as well as time spent at sites in the US and abroad. Steve participates in a wide range of creative, grassroots efforts that promote new forms of sustainability.


Bryan Felice is the founding owner of Undustrial Timber Frames. He has been involved in the design and construction of sustainable buildings since 2000 and will bring his expertise in building design and the practical experience to the course. Bryan has worked in various capacities in the environmental field including leading semester long field studies programs at Antioch College and has developed and led international programs in Cuba and Mexico for undergraduate and graduate students. Bryan is an adjunct faculty member at Plymouth State University. He also a member of the Board of Directors at D Acres, an educational Permaculture farm in Dorchester, N.H.

Registration & Tuition

The cost of the full Certificate of Completion in Sustainable Design and Construction (Parts 1-3) is $4,500. Participants may register for only one or two of the courses and can be issued a completion certificate for each class (upon request), or take all three and receive the full Certificate of Completion in Sustainable Design and Construction. The Deadline for registration is August 23, 2013.

For details about registration call Tracey Perkins at (603) 526-3702 or e-mail: tperkins@colby-sawyer.edu

Fall Class Meeting Dates

Part 3 of the program, Shelter & Sustainability, will take place on Thursday afternoons from 1:00-5:00pm in the Ivey Science Center at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH from September 12th through October 23rd.

Download and share the Shelter & Sustainability Flyer.