Converting a horse barn, workshop and bunkhouse south of Santa Fe into a house

Classes give students tips on green building

By Staci Matlock | The New Mexican

People interested in green building, solar energy and water harvesting can take one or all six in a series of weekly green building classes offered at Santa Fe Community College beginning today.

It is the 14th consecutive year the continuing education classes have been offered at the college by Architects Designers Contractors Network, a group of local experts coordinated by interior designer Robin Dorrell.

The classes are designed to give people an overview of green building techniques and working with contractors. The classes are taught by Dorrell and local builders and designers.

“We’re trying to teach people basic concepts, not how to do things completely on their own,” Dorrell said.

Barbara and Tobey King took the classes last year before they hired a contractor to convert a horse barn, workshop and bunkhouse south of Santa Fe into a house. The had renovated old adobe houses before, but knew little about “green building,” Barbara King said.

In the classes, they learned about passive solar design, solar thermal water heating systems, construction methodology, insulation and more. “We highly recommend the classes to anyone thinking about buying, renovating or building their own house,” King said.

The couple already have installed a solar system to heat water for the small 600-square-foot bunkhouse where they live while the adjacent horse stable and workshop are converted into living spaces. They hired one of the green building class teachers, Danny Buck, to work on their house project.

King is a master gardener and their home-in-progress is on a well, so she plans to use a lot of the tips she picked up in the water harvesting class. She said the class presenters hand out the names of useful Web sites and printed materials so people can learn more.

The green building classes are the longest running series of continuing education classes at Santa Fe Community College. Back when Robin started them, no one else was really talking about green building.

With a lot of people retrofitting existing homes instead of buying new ones, Dorrell said, “green renovation” is the next big thing in construction. The classes can help homeowners decide where they’ll get the biggest renewable energy return on their retrofit investment.

The ADC Network added a class two years ago that explains the state’s Build Green certification program, LEED and the renewable energy tax credits.

Contact Staci Matlock at 986-3055 or .

The schedule for the individual classes, all from 6-9 p.m., at Santa Fe Community College:
Today: Introduction to Green Building
Feb. 23: Great SW Design in an Energy-Efficient Home
March 2: Alternative Building Methods
March 9: Water Harvesting
March 23: Renewable Energy
March 30: A Guide to Successful Building

For more information, contact Santa Fe Community College at or 505-428-1676, or ADC Network at or 505-474-8388.