Green Building Topics Explored in Long-Running Home Building and Design Series at SFCC


Evening Classes Help People
“Build Green”

Green Fire Times
February 2011

A very popular series of classes about green building issues and practices is being offered to the general public in February and March 2011 by Santa Fe’s “Architects, Designers and Contractors Network” (ADC Network, through the Continuing Education department at  Santa Fe Community College. The evening classes explore key issues in green building and design, including tax incentives and rating programs, smart design principles, passive solar, renewable energy, water harvesting, various wall systems and building techniques, and the process of working with architects and contractors.

The “Home Building and Design” series classes are taught by Robin Dorrell of ADC Network with the help of experts in each field. The classes are a great introduction to the basics of green building, and are geared for non-professionals, such as people who are planning to build a new home (or commercial building) or remodel their existing home, as well as professionals in the field, such as builders, designers, architects, real estate agents, lenders and appraisers.

ADC Network offers the classes to inform and empower people to make better decisions in their building projects. “The classes prepare people to design and build smartly and sustainably,” says Dorrell. “Students walk away with a huge amount of knowledge in this field, and we know that they build better and have a better experience after taking the classes.”

The classes have evolved over the years, reflecting changes in the field. “We added the ‘Renewable Energy’ and ‘Introduction to Green Building’ classes to the series a few years ago in response to changes and increased interest in the green building field. We also strengthened the Passive Solar component of the ‘Great Design’ class because we feel passive solar is so important and often overlooked nowadays in favor of the more active renewable energy systems.”

While some of the classes have been offered continually for 15 years, these “classic classes,” are continually updated every semester. These include “Great Southwestern Design,” “Alternative Building Methods and Materials,” and “Water Harvesting”. Dorrell emphasizes that “smart and solid practices in the building field never go out of style, they just keep getting more important.”

Dorrell, who started the classes with the help of many of Santa Fe’s leaders and pioneers in the various green building fields, is proud that she brought them to SFCC years before they started their Sustainable Technologies Center and green building and renewable energy certification programs. “I can’t help but think that we influenced the direction of SFCC somewhat by showing them the strong interest in these topics over the years,” she says. “The SFCC Continuing Education department has been fantastic and very supportive over the years. When we started the classes – which deal with serious design, health and safety issues – our class listings were placed alongside do-it-yourself classes like quilting and beading. When they realized the significance of the content and saw the long-term popularity of the classes they eventually created a separate category in the catalog for this green building series.”

Dorrell is pleased with the feedback from students, who typically rate the classes as “Excellent”. “We cover a lot of territory and offer a lot of content to people,” he says, “but we do it in a systematic and well-planned way, with lots of photographs and illustrations. Students are grateful that we helped them understand so many components of this complex and sometimes daunting field. We work hard to have these classes make sense to students, so it’s gratifying to hear them call these ‘Master Classes’ when the series is over.”

The classes were designed to cover a single theme or topic in each class, and to provide a complete overview of the green building field with all six classes. Each class works well for students as a single, stand-alone class if they are interested in only that topic. A 20% discount is offered by SFCC for people who register for the series. The classes are:

  • Introduction to Green BuildingWhat is “green” building and how can it save me money while saving the planet? Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 6 to 9 pm at SFCC.

This introductory class provides an overview of Green & Sustainable building for owners, builders and designers who want to improve the quality of their homes while reducing their impact on our natural resources and the environment. The class reviews current issues, concepts, strategies, goals, programs and language in the field, including: “LEED” and “Build Green” programs, energy efficiency and energy ratings, as well as financial incentives and regulations at the City, County, State and National levels.

  • Great Southwestern Design and Passive Solar PrinciplesCreating a beautiful and functional passive solar home. Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 6 to 9 pm at SFCC.

Using slides from New Mexico and around the world, this class illustrates important design principles, showing how massing, light and shadow, layering of space, texture, indoor-outdoor spaces, and color all contribute to achieving architecture that is efficient, functional and aesthetically pleasing. The class also reviews passive solar design principles that can significantly reduce energy consumption.

  • Alternative Building Materials and MethodsFrom mud to modern: adobe, straw bale, and beyond. Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 6 to 9 pm at SFCC.

Learn the pros and cons of different building methods, materials and wall systems, and learn how they relate to green building and energy efficiency. The class discusses and illustrates adobe, ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms), AAC (Aerated Autoclave Concrete), straw bale, and pumice-crete. Students learn about embodied energy, how the various building methods are priced and used in construction, and how each material relates to the dynamic of Mass vs. Insulation.

  • Water Harvesting and RecyclingSaving, storing and re-using water for your home and landscape. Tuesday, March 9, 2011, 6 to 9 pm at SFCC.

Water harvesting and water recycling are key components in the overall theme of moisture management. This class looks at active and passive systems and the related topics of conveyance, filtration, storage, distribution, and irrigation. We also discuss pumice wicks, infiltration galleries, erosion control and storm-water management, and gray and black water systems.

  • Renewable Energy Systems – Using the sun to save money and “energize” your home. Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 6 to 9 pm at SFCC.

The class reviews renewable energy systems for residential applications, including Solar Thermal systems — solar water heating and radiant heating — and Solar Electric or Photo Voltaic (PV) systems for both on-grid and off-grid applications. Wind and GeoThermal systems are also discussed.

  • A Guide To Successful BuildingBe prepared to have a great experience building your new home. Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 6 to 9 pm at SFCC.

This class reviews the design and building process and helps students understand how to work with architects, designers and builders for a successful building experience. The class reviews the systems, processes, details and strategies needed to stay within the project budget and on-schedule, and how to manage the project effectively.

Register for the classes by calling the SFCC at 505-428-1251 or online at . The six-class “Green & Sustainable Home Building & Design Series” is CRN # 30498.