The "Us" in "About Us"
This Web site is mostly my work, but there is no way I could have built it alone. When I say this page is "about us," I mean me and the people in the background who help me with the project and deserve praise and thanks.
My friend and Web advisor Annie Ricciardi has patiently guided me though the process of creating the "Your Ecological House" site. Annie was also the primary web designer of our sister site Ecotecture®.
My informal content and copy editor Rick Cooper has helped with numerous suggestions and a little hard editing of the copy. Not only do I owe Rick a word of thanks, but I also owe him the following disclaimer: Any mistakes in the content, grammar or copy on this web site are the sole responsibility and fault of the Editor, Philip S. Wenz
Finally I need to thank my wife Pam for her patience and support during the many long hours I've devoted to learning web skills, writing content and creating this site and its pages.
For 35 years, I was a designer, builder, teacher and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2005, my wife and I moved to Corvallis, Oregon, and bought an older home on a half acre of property. That year we build a workshop in the back yard, insulated the house and added a pellet stove as our primary heat source. In 2006, we planted an organic garden which provides a portion of our food, and this year we will double its size. In the coming years, we plan to add a number of "eco house" features to our home including a passive solar greenhouse, gray water system, and photovoltaic system.
In my career as a designer and contractor I focused primarily on residential remodels, building everything from kitchens (thirty or so) to full scale additions. As well as owning and operating a construction business, I designed projects for numerous other builders and homeowners.
I also inspected houses for prospective buyers and performed a number of feasibility consultations for addition projects. For a few years, I owned and operated a cabinet shop that specialized in making office furniture and fixtures for architects and artists.
In 1980, I created a class in cabinet making which I taught at Berkeley's Owner Builder Center (now the Building Education Center, or BEC.) Subsequently, I restructured and taught the BEC "core course" called "House Building and Remodeling." I also created and taught specialized courses in estimating, finish carpentry, and, in the mid 1990s, "Creating Your Ecological House," which I teach to this day.
In 1990, I joined the San Francisco Institute of Architecture (SFIA) as a teacher and student. There I was the Founder and, for ten years, the Director of the Ecological Design program. I also taught or team-taught two courses which I wrote: Principles of Ecological Design and the Ecological Design Studio. I earned my Master's Degree in Ecological Design from SFIA in 2000.
I am the author of the book Adding to a House, on planning, designing and building residential additions. The book was published by Taunton Press (Fine Homebuilding Magazine) in 1995 and remained in print until 2005. Copies are still available on Amazon and elsewhere. I hope to revive the book and offer it as a download on this Web site in the not-to-distant future.
I have also written numerous articles on design, construction and ecological design, some of which are reproduced on this Web site.
I am currently working on a new book called, Creating Your Ecological House," which I hope to complete in late 2007 or early 2008. My other main project is building this Web site and promoting its ideas through lectures, classes and other public appearances.