The Gaia house charter

June 30, 2006 :: Categories: Inspiration, Resources

I came across this several years ago and it helped get me on the road to green building. — Eva

The Gaia house charter

by David Pearson

Design for harmony with the planet

Site, orient, and shelter the home to make best and conserving use of renewable resources. Use the sun, wind, and water for all or most of your energy needs and rely less on supplementary, nonrenewable energy.

Use “green” materials and products nontoxic, nonpolluting, sustainable, and renewable, produced with low energy and low environmental and social costs, and biodegradable or easily reused and recycled.

Design the house to be “intelligent” in its use of resources and complement natural mechanisms, if necessary with efficient control systems to regulate energy, heating, cooling, water, airflow, and lighting.

Integrate the house with the local ecosystem, by planting indigenous tree and flower species. Compost organic wastes, garden organically, and use natural pest control -- no pesticides. Recycle “greywater” and use low-flush or waterless toilets. Collect, store, and use rainwater.

Design systems to prevent export of pollution to the air, water, and soil.

Design for peace for the spirit

Make the home harmonious with its environment -- blending in with the community, the building styles, scale, and materials around it.

Participate with others at every stage, using the personal ideas and skills of all in order to seek a holistic, living design.

Use proportions, forms, and shapes that are harmonious, creating beauty and tranquility.

Use colors and textures of natural materials and natural dyes, paints, and stains to create a personal and therapeutic colour environment.

Site and design the house to be life enhancing, and increase the wellbeing or the vital life force, ch’i, of its occupants.

Connect the home with Gaia and the natural world and the rhythms and cycles of the Earth, its seasons, and its days.

Make the home a healing environment in which the mind and spirit can be free and flourish.

Design for health of the body

Create a healthy indoor climate by allowing the house to “breathe", and use natural materials and processes to regulate temperature, humidity, and air flow and quality.

Site the home away from harmful EM radiation from power lines and also away from negative ground radiation. Design to prevent the build-up of static and EM F from domestic equipment, and to avoid interference with beneficial cosmic and terrestrial radiation.

Provide safe and healthy air and water, free from pollutants (radon especially), with good humidity, negative-ion balance, and pleasant fragrance from herbs, materials, and polishes. Use natural air flow and ventilation.

Create a quiet home, protected and insulated from external and internal noise, and a pleasant, sound-healthy environment.

Design to allow sunlight and daylight to penetrate, and thus rely less on artificial lighting.

David Pearson is an architect and planner who has been actively involved in inner city and new community housing for most of his working life in Britain and the USA. Since the 1980s, he has been active in the fields of ecological design and Gaia philosophy (inspired by the view of the Earth as a living organism). He is Founder and Chair of the Trustees of the Ecological Design Association, an educational charity, and Editor of Eco-Design, the Association’s journal. He is also a Founder Member of Gaia International, an innovative group of international eco-architects who collaborate in competitions and architectural events.

Permalink | Comments: 0 | TrackBack: 0

How to order a door lockset

June 16, 2006 :: Categories: Tips

Most lever sets require you to determine whether the door is a Right-Hand or Left-Hand door (knobs do not require handing).

doorhinge example

Simply stand outside the room or house facing the door (It does not matter if the door swings in or out.)

If the hinge is on the right, it is a Right-Hand door lever

If the hinge is on the left, it is a Left-Hand door lever.

A note about Handle sets: Even though the lever is on the inside of the house, you still stand outside of the house to determine handing.

Permalink | Comments: 0 | TrackBack: 0

Plumbing tip

May 30, 2006 :: Categories: Tips

Preparing to solder a pipe joint

If you have to add to an existing copper pipe, prior to soldering the joint make sure the area is dry. A tip I got from a plumber is to stuff a piece of bread in the pipe by the area to be soldered. Use white mushy bread (not any fancy baguette with a hard crust). The bread will dry up the pipe and dissolve once the water is turned on again. This works when you need to cement sprinkler PVC pipes as well.

Permalink | Comments: 0 | TrackBack: 0

Painting tip

May 24, 2006 :: Categories: Tips

You are in the middle of painting and you need to take a break. Place the roller in a plastic bag and wrap it tight. You can then resume painting the next day.

Permalink | Comments: 0 | TrackBack: 0

Eco-Building 101

May 21, 2006 :: Categories: Inspiration, House Tales, Resources

Over six years ago, my business partner and I bought a house up in Beachwood Canyon to renovate. We were fortunate to meet an amazing woman, Grayce Wey, the organic gardener who owned the house. Grayce was one of the first people to trigger my passion for ecological building. This is her letter to me, which is a general introduction to almost every aspect of environmental design and living. After meeting Grayce, we were hooked on the idea of keeping within these principles as we began the rebuilding of the house (see House Tales). — Eva

March 8, 2000

Hey, Eva,

...I just put together a small sampling of things to say to whet the consulate’s appetite.

There is strictly eco-friendly building, which deals mostly with using recycled, sustainable, and non-toxic materials in building. For instance, recycled wood or wood bamboo and cork (both beautiful and great for floors), walls, work areas, tables, counters made of recycled glass, cardboard, wood, straw bales, concrete, etc.; nontoxic paints made of vegetable dyes (getting very big now). There are many salvage yards with great used doors, windows, molding, sinks, etc. for discounted prices that keep reusable items out of landfills.

The architecture is important, too, i.e. building to best utilize solar gain (windows on the south side of the house with concrete floors that absorb heat during the day and release it at night; having houses centered around courtyards to control the houses’ temperature) and designing to use less wood while maintaining energy efficiency. For instance, several of the supporting beams in the Glen Oak house were spaced 10 feet apart rather than the typical 6 feet so that we could save on wood without affecting structural integrity. Using air filters and allowing for walls that breathe is also important in cutting down mold and bacteria and keeping the air clean (in conjunction with using indoor water/fountains and plants, of course).

Eco-friendly living includes using solar, water, or wind energy for power and not fossil fuels. Using gray water systems that take water from showers, sinks, washing machines, and rain and using it to water landscaping or flushing toilets. Of course, in using gray water systems (legal now in the cities of L.A. and Beverly Hills after much fighting), you must also use eco-friendly products. Most soaps, shampoos, cleansers, etc. are harmful to the environment and toxic to humans as well. The number one thing all people can do now is to start using natural cleansers. For instance, my laundry detergent is eco-friendly, and I was able to directly run the water to my plants, which made them grow wildly! Don’t forget drapes, sofas, chairs made with certified organic hemp and cotton. Furniture can be made eco-friendly as well with an emphasis on supporting the body in its natural positions. No more back aches!

Creating holistic environments through Baubiologie, Feng Shui, color, light, sound, smell, etc. is also important for the health and well being of the people living or working in structures. Everyone knows places where they love to hang out because it’s cozy and welcoming, as well as places where you feel icky and uncomfortable because of the surroundings.

Baubiologie (building biology) is a school of architecture developed in Europe to design and build homes with natural materials. Houses are considered to be like organisms with skins that protect, insulate, absorb, and breath. Baubiologic homes utilize sunlight and take into consideration electromagnetic fields. Like Feng Shui, Baubiologie seeks to create harmony in a building.

Feng Shui (wind and water in Chinese) is used to put all elements of a building in harmony in order to promote health, wealth, and happiness. Furniture, walls, and whole buildings are positioned so that Ch’I or Qi (energy) flows through the structure in a balanced manner. Qi can be manipulated through color, light and sound as well.

Color and smell is also important to consider as well. Exposure to warm colors (red, orange, yellow) increases blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate, while exposure to cool greens and blues have the opposite effect. Interestingly enough, when architects changed the color of school room walls from orange and white to blue, students’ blood pressure dropped, and good behavior and learning comprehension soared. With the success of aromatherapy, you know that smell plays an important factor in moods and memory. The smell of peppermint makes people more awake and alert for example.

A great eco-friendly home will incorporate all of the above concepts. [As in] Certain colors of non-toxic paint on concrete or cardboard walls cleaned by a nontoxic cleanser with collected rain water!

Hope this will give you an idea of all the possibilities. Being eco-friendly doesn’t necessarily have to cost more, but it does take more time to search for reusable and sustainable items. Even if the costs are a little more than average sometimes, it’s worthwhile for the environment, and in the cases of more effective insulation with recycled newspaper, energy through solar panels, nontoxic materials, the extra work pays for itself financially, physically, and mentally.

Hope this will suffice for now. Let me know if you need more info.


  • Baubiologie is a German word meaning building-biology. It’s a holistic concept that strives to bring humanity into harmony with the building environment. Baubiologie literally means, “The relationship between buildings and life.” — Read more.
  • Feng Shui is a natural earth science which reveals how people are affected by their immediate surroundings. Historically, it has been categorized as an ancient Chinese metaphysical art. “Feng” literally means “wind” and “shui” literally means “water.” Modern usage of the words implies balance. The expression “good feng shui” indicates a space that is balanced, harmonious, life-enhancing or lucky. — Read more here.
  • Color and Its Impact On Us
    The two most important aspects of color in considering its power on humans are:
    1. Physiological aspects of color, i.e. how the human body reacts to color energy fields. For instance, red has the slowest t-waves (all energy comes in waves). Red elevates heart rate and blood pressure. Thus scientists use infra-red to penetrate the body. Blue (the opposite of red in wavelength), white and violet have the fastest energy waves.
    2. The cultural significance of colors - Different colors symbolize different things to different cultures. Some of this meaning and designation of color comes from each culture’s environment. For instance, the Mediterranean is hot and sunny, so Mediterraneans are drawn to bright colors. Northern inhabitants are drawn to cooler, more subdued colors. From this environmental starting point, customs evolve relating to color. Local religions and belief systems also play a role in the development of cultural color symbolism.

Permalink | Comments: 0 | TrackBack: 0

Day One

May 20, 2006 :: Categories: Milestones

Welcome to our blog, the Green Room. Why did we call it that? We liked the idea of having a place to relax and spend a little more time sharing the things we’re learning about ecological building, sustainability and design. Like in the backstage spot where actors and musicians chill out.

Green Rooms are also the garden rooms, porch or patio rooms on some houses that spill out into the outdoors and invite nature to come inside. We like that idea too. We wanted a place where our thoughts and ideas could spill out.

The rest of our website is designed to give you the information you need fast. The Green Room invites you to stay a little longer and check out our notes, musings, letters, inspiration, research and the latest stories about what we are building. You can read about our triumphs and failures at getting permission to use environmentally friendly methods, how we have to negotiate that stuff with local government, etc.

You’ll find links here to some of the best online resources for building green, too. And our handy fix-it tips for the little things around the house that can go wrong.

And feel free to send us your own stories and ideas. Maybe they’ll end up in the Green Room, too.

Permalink | Comments: 0 | TrackBack: 0