Chartreuse Blog

Plain Green Volunteers to Build Sioux Falls’ First Strawbale Building

McCrory Gardens, Brookings, SD. Photo by Dean Isham.

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The Plain Green Conference and Marketplace brings two days of advancing sustainability to the Washington Pavilion in downtown Sioux Falls April 28-29, 2010. Plain Green is the premiere conference on green design, business and ideas on the Northern Plains.

This year, Plain Green will open with an exciting event, a community service project, integrating hands-on learning, sustainable building concepts, and community stewardship.

The Project

The Sioux Falls Chapter of Architecture for Humanity and Sioux Falls Seminary have partnered to organize the construction of a Straw Bale Shed, April 27 and 28, before the Plain Green 10 Conference.  Sioux Falls Seminary’s Summit House, located near downtown Sioux Falls in the Pettigrew Height’s Neighborhood, will be the building site for the new straw bale shed, a gateway project that may lead to creative thinking about development in the neighborhood.  Sioux Falls Seminary students serving at Summit House hope to eventually use the structure as a Tool Lending Library for the residents of the Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood for simple home maintenance and repair.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in learning about straw bale construction, would like to help build the first straw bale structure in the City of Sioux Falls, or if you would like to volunteer your time for a good cause, join the building team. Spend two days bale raising and plastering with a straw bale specialist from Nebraska, Joyce Coppinger, Managing Editor and Publisher of The Last Straw Journal.  Participants will learn sustainable construction skills with hands-on involvement while building the straw-bale shed.  Space is very limited and an application is required.  Though there is no fee, space is available for Plain Green attendees only.  Register at  After registering, you will be emailed an application.  Team selection will be completed by April 13, 2010.

This Community Service Project is made possible by Koch Hazard Architects and Chartreuse Research, in partnership with Architecture for Humanity, Sioux Falls Chapter and Sioux Falls Seminary.

Plain Green Announces Keynote Speakers

Cameron Sinclair and Dr. Mitchell Joachim, both world-renowned leaders in sustainable design, we be headlining a slate of five keynote speakers at Plain Green 10, April 28-29, 2010.

Cameron Sinclair is the co-founder and ‘eternal optimist’ at Architecture for Humanity, a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings professional design services to communities in need. Over the past ten years the organization has worked in twenty six countries on projects ranging from school, health clinics, affordable housing and long term sustainable reconstruction. Sinclair and Architecture for Humanity co-founder Kate Stohr have compiled a compendium on socially conscious design titled “Design Like You Give A Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises”. He serves on advisory boards of the Acumen Fund, Detroit Collaborative Design Center and the Institute for State Effectiveness.

Sinclair is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2006 TED prize and the 2005 RISD/Target Emerging Designer of the Year. Recently he was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Along with co-founder Kate Stohr, Sinclair was awarded the Wired Magazine 2006 Rave Award for Architecture for their work in responding to housing needs following Hurricane Katrina. In 2008 they were recipients of the National Design Award for demonstrating “that good design can indeed change the world.” As a result of the TED Prize he and Stohr launched the Open Architecture Network, the worlds’ first open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design. In 2009 the network will host a global challenge to redesign educational facilities around the world. Learn much more at

Mitchell Joachim is a leader in ecological design and urbanism. He is a Co-Founder at Terreform ONE and Terrefuge. He is faculty at Columbia University and Parsons and has been awarded the Moshe Safdie Research Fellowship, and the Martin Family Society Fellow for Sustainability at MIT. He won the History Channel and Infiniti Excellence Award for the City of the Future, and Time Magazine Best Invention of the Year 2007. His project, Fab Tree Hab, has been exhibited at MoMA and widely published.

Joachim was chosen by Wired magazine for “The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To”. Rolling Stone magazine honored Mitchell as an agent of change in “The 100 People Who Are Changing America”. He was selected to be the Frank Gehry International Visiting Chair in Architectural Design at the University of Toronto for Spring 2010. Mitchell has also won the 2010 TED Fellowship.

Other keynotes at Plain Green 10 will include:

Gail Vittori, author of Sustainable Healthcare Design and 2009 Chair of US Green Building Council, the organization overseeing the LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) rating program.

Steve Clark, Walking and Bicycling Program Manager for Transit for Livable Communities, overseeing a 4 year, $22.5 million pilot program to improve conditions for walking and bicycling throughout the state of Minnesota.

Brian Dunbar, Executive Director of the Institute for the Built Environment (IBE), professor of Construction Management at Colorado State University and co-author of 147 Ways to Teach Sustainability.

Now in it’s third year, Plain Green will be bigger and better than ever in 2010, with five star-power keynote speakers, in-depth workshops, interactive breakout sessions and three floors of the best green exhibitors, all under one historic roof. Learn more about all the Plain Green 10 speakers here.

Spring Green Drinks Schedule
February 16, 2010, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Local Green Events | Tags:

Green drinks is celebrating 1 year!  Come have green conversation over drinks at Latitude 44!

Where: Latitude 44 (201 N. Weber Avenue)
When: Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 5:00 until whenever!
Why: Drinks and good green conversation.  Also, Nathan Schock, Poet Energy Director of Public Relations and Green Drinker, will be giving a talk on the future of ethanol.

See you there!

Green Drinks is a monthly mixer organized by Astronaut and the Sioux Falls Green Project for anyone interested in conversation about all aspects of sustainability. Sioux Falls is just one of almost 600 cities world wide making green conversation over drinks. For more information about Green Drinks check out the website at

Mark your calendar for future Green Drinks:

  • Wednesday, February 24 at Lattitude 44. Featuring Nathan Schock on the future of ethanol.
  • Wednesday, March 24 at Leonardo’s Cafe. Featuring Sioux Falls mayoral candidates on the green future of the Queen City.
  • Thursday, April 29 at Parker’s Bistro. Featuring a mash-up with the Plain Green Conference + Marketplace.
  • Wednesday, May 26 at some cool place to be announced. Featuring a little “Trash Talking 101.”

More future dates:

  • June 23, 2010
  • July 28, 2010
  • August 25, 2010

Building with Bales in Sioux Falls?
February 8, 2010, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Community Service, Green Materials, Local Green Events | Tags: ,

Ag Building at Symbiosis Farms

That’s right!  We are going to get our hands dirty and build with straw bales right here in Sioux Falls.  You can join in, here’s how…

We are partnering with the Sioux Falls Chapter of Architecture for Humanity and Sioux Falls Seminary to build a shed during the Plain Green 10 Conference in April.  Sioux Falls Seminary’s Summit House, located in the Pettigrew Heights, will be the site for the straw bale building.

A bit about straw bale construction:

The first straw bale buildings were located in the Sand Hills of Nebraska in the 1800s. Many of these homes still exist and, if maintained, are still in excellent shape. The oldest known straw bale construction in the world, located in Alliance, Nebraska, turned 100 years old in 2003.

Straw bale construction is an example of industrial ecology, an industry’s waste is turned into another industry’s food in a closed-loop system. The waste-product of the cereal grain industry, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, and rice, is straw, the tubular structure of a grain plant after the seed and grain is removed. Two and three-string square bales are used for construction.

Straw bale construction is done in two very different ways: as the structure, referred to as “Nebraska style” and “load-bearing,” or as the infill, referred to as “post and beam” and non-load-bearing.”  Infill straw bale is predominately used for a few reasons. First, infill is easier to meet code, get insurance, and get mortgage lenders because it is like traditional methods of construction.

It is adaptable, fits into many architectural styles, is changeable after construction, and allows for a much larger structure. It is also easier to repair or replace damaged sections. The use of a post and beam structure allows for the construction of a roof before the bales are stacked. This allows the bales to be protected from the weather during construction.

Straw Bale constructions have an average of R-1.45 per inch of wall thickness when plastered (as high as R-50 for a 20 inch wall), have a high compressive strength, a very good acoustical rating, and have been rated with two-hour fire resistance.

Be sure to register for Plain Green 10!
February 5, 2010, 3:02 pm
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Plain Green 10 Conference and Marketplace is coming to the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science April 28th and 29th here in Sioux Falls.

Plain Green, a collaboration between the Sioux Falls Green Project, Koch Hazard Architects, and South Dakota State University, is a green conference and marketplace geared towards advancing sustainability on the Northern Plains.  Take action in 2010 by connecting with other attendees, world renowned keynotes, and green exhibitors.  Learn about conservation design planning, green healthcare, eco-affordable housing, green office makeovers, LEED, straw bale construction, EPA compliance, permaculture, and more through two days of workshops and breakout sessions.

Chartreuse will be organizing the funding, material, and general construction efforts of a community service project, the Summit House Tool Library, built in conjunction with the conference.  We will be working with the new Sioux Falls Chapter of Architecture for Humanity who will be responsible for the design and drawings for the straw bale structure.  Construction will be April 27 and 28 and will be facilitated by a straw bale expert.  To learn about straw bale construction (and to do something good for our community), reserve your spot on the community service project team.  Sign up at plaingreen.orgRegistration is only open to Plain Green attendees.

Quick Glance 2010 Schedule:

  • Tuesday April 27: “Pre-conference learning dialogues, community service project and more.”
  • Wednesday April 28: “Half- and Full-day in-depth workshops, Keynote luncheon, Exhibitor marketplace and Opening Party.”
  • Thursday April 29: “Four smashing keynotes, four tracks of interactive breakout sessions, informative discussion panels, exhibitor marketplace, local foods luncheon, and closing Green Drinks Gathering.”

Plain Green 10 Registration Now Open
February 5, 2010, 2:46 pm
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Early Bird registration for the Plain Green 10 Conference and Marketplace is now open!

Save $34 on Plain Green 10 registration! The first 100 people can register for $65.00 (Registration increases to $99 after first 100 passes are sold). You have several choices:

The Conference and Marketplace Pass gets you into the Grand Opening keynote and marketplace party on Wednesday night (4/28) and all sessions, including breakfast and lunch, plus the Marketplace, on Thursday 4/29.  Early bird price: $65.00 ($99.00 after first 100).

The Student Pass gets you all the above, at a special super discount for the first 40 full time students.  Price: $35.00.

Pre-Conference Workshop gets you registered for your choice of full- and half-day in-depth workshops on Wednesday 4/28 (not including LEED workshop–separate registration required). Price: $65.00 for full-day, $35.00 for half-day.

For additional information and to register, visit