Bartels is an experienced builder, consultant and educator
with over 15 years experience in the sustainable and natural
building field. She was a pioneer in building the first
permitted straw bale home in western Colorado in 1995.
She has been a consultant to architects, contractors,
schools and owners since 1997, offering services in feasibility,
design, construction, moisture, plasters and project management
issues for residential, school and commercial projects.
She has worked on straw bale projects nationally and in
“My love for beautiful, elegant, environmentally-responsible,
high-performance buildings has been woven with my love of
teaching and nature” says Bartels. With a background
in natural sciences and environmental education, building
a natural home for her family led her to helping others do
the same, including overseeing the construction of the Waldorf
School on the Roaring Fork's passive solar straw bale campus
of over 22,000 sf in Carbondale, Colorado.
Laura is a regular instructor of sustainable and natural
building with University of Colorado's Sustainable Practices
Series and Solar Energy International. Having helped create
the Straw Bale SAFE Homes Initiative (Sustainable, AFfordable
and Efficient Homes) with the Intertribal Council on Utility
Policy to address critical housing needs with climate neutral
and community based technologies on tribal lands, she developed
and teaches a straw bale construction train the trainers certificate
program at Sinte Gleska Univesity at the Rosebud Indian reservation
in South Dakota.
Presentations for national and international conferences
as well as for architectural firms, schools and the public,
including speaking at the first U.S. Congressional Briefing
on straw bale construction, have helped to introduce high
performance natural building in a larger context. Collaborative
efforts such as with Builders Without Borders to construct
a Straw Bale Ecohouse for the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington,
DC have brought increased awareness to the general public.