Email Jorg at ASH
Consulting/Plan Review Awards/Media/R&D/Talks Tours: Real/Virtual
Architectural Design Plans & Products Partners
Construction/Workshops Portfolio/Projects Retrofit
EcoEvening Archives Straw Bale Projects Links
Home Page About/Contact Us Other

© Jorg Ostrowski 2003. All rights reserved.

More Information About Us:
Office Hours: (Mondays-Thursdays: 8:30 AM-Noon, 1:00-4:30 PM)
Location map.

Airdrie Environmental Education Centre

Strawbale Factory

Strawbale Project

Belec Passive Solar Home

Sun Harvest Health Food Store

Canterra Towers

Bible College

Wickhorst Strawbale Workshop

Introduction: This firm is evolving into a diversified and multidisciplinary environmental company specializing in services, products and promotion of a sustainable future through green buildings for the new millennium. We use an integrated, "real world", walk-the-talk approach for the benevolent design, efficient consulting, alternative construction and hands-on education for small scale housing projects and commercial buildings that are friendly to people and compassionate to the planet.

Table of Contents:

1.0  Welcome
2.0 Thank You
3.0 ASH Principals
4.0 Business Philosophy
5.0 Benefits for Clients
6.0 Clients & Projects
7.0 Consulting Services
8.0 Architectural/Environmental Design
9.0 Work Principles
10.0 Partnerships

11.0 Demo Projects
12.0 Calgary EcoHome
13.0 Strawbale EcoOffice
14.0 Strawbale Workshops
16.0 Media & EcoEvents
17.0 Walking the Talk
18.0 Theory v. Reality
19.0 Volunteers & Students

1.0) Welcome to the new Home Page for ASH-Autonomous & Sustainable Housing Inc. ("ASH" for short). This is an elaboration of the previous short form found on our Home Page. Our firm specializes in "real world" healthy housing and green buildings, both new and retrofit, for a sustainable future. We have tried to take the best of the past, build in the reality of the present, to be ready for the future. If we can be of service to you, if our work is worthy of your support, if you wish to be on our mailing list, or if you would like to recommend a new product or project, please . Please also check out our industry partners and special events. We welcome your input.

2.0) Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to visit our web site. Thank you also for your patience while we complete the retrofit of our latest version of our web site over the next few weeks. It will portray a small fraction of our past work: Design & Build Projects; Consulting Work, [Industry Partners], Conference Papers, [Demonstration Projects], [Lectures & Talks], [Workshops & Seminars], [Awards & Citations], [Media & Special Events]. Thank you also for being interested in a more sustainable world and brighter future, and doing your part to expand solutions while minimizing problems.

3.0) ASH Principals: Our team of one lady and 2 gentlemen have been trained in various schools of architecture in Canada, the US and the Philippines. Our expertise has been gained in the "real world" through many projects over many years, mainly in Canada. Resumes for Jorg Ostrowski is now available by clicking here. The resumes of Orian Low and Helen Ostrowski will follow.

4.0) Business Philosophy: Our portfolio of work and future commissions will only be based on long term, green capitalism, respect for the environment and investments in future to meet the quadruple bottom line: profit for people, planet, business and the future, as specified in our Mission/Vision Statement. We have no interest in standard architectural work. Ecology, not geometry is our foundation and priority. We will not do minimal standard, hit-and -run design and construction. The world can no longer afford to run away from buildings that are obsolete upon completion of construction. The soft green path is our long term commitment. Our vision is rooted in the future, not the past. This requires a far greater front end load of professional work to get it right for the long haul. Our professional fees reflect that experience, commitment and extra effort.

5.0) Benefits for our Clients: Water is far more precious than oil. Life would stop without water, but life will go on in spite of, and without oil.
5.1) more healthy indoors 5.5) better return on investment 5.9) lower maintenance cost
5.2) leaves a legacy worth inheriting 5.6) security against spiralling fossil fuel costs 5.10) energy independence
5.3) less pollution & GHG emissions 5.7) security against increasing costs of precious water 5.11) greater durability
5.4) investment in the future 5.8) higher resale value 5.12) protection against vandalism

6.0) Clients & Projects: ASH has worked with a wide variety of clients from First Nations, building managers, college presidents, food store owners, owner builders, lay people, business owners, and government, on a wide variety of projects including strawbale homes and commercial projects, passive solar homes, remote houses, and "RecoFits" of a college and office tower.

7.0) Consulting Service: Professional advice is available for clients on drawings produced by others. It takes advantage of our design and construction experience over the years to offer clients our retrogressive perspective of how to improve our own work, and that of others, so that the projects of our clients can be better, cheaper, more healthy and cost-effective. For more information, please click here.

8.0) Architectural/Environmental Design: Almost all of our design projects have been built and can be seen at various locations on this web site. We can provide a complete set of design and working drawings, for development and building permits. These would include site plan, floor plans, elevations, sections, specifications, window/door schedules, details, structural and mechanical engineering and site inspections. For more information on this service, please click here.

9.0) Work Principles: We try to help build local solutions for global problems through benevolent EcoDesign using the following principles:
9.1) team approach 9.9) honest use of features 9.17) self-help construction
9.2) user participatory design 9.10) no arbitrary elements 9.18) local industries
9.3) mission statement governed 9.11) long term responsibility 9.19) appropriate tools
9.4) priority checklist 9.12) continuous evolution of details 9.20) making a difference
9.5) holistic design from inside to outside 9.13) multitasking features & details  
9.6) integration of systems 9.14) contemporary aesthetics  
9.7) integration into surroundings 9.15) stoic v. Epicurean approach  
9.8) natural dynamics 9.16) cost efficiency  

10.0) Partnerships: The partners of ASH have worked with about 300 government, NGO and industry partners over the last few years. Demonstration projects have provided various opportunities for: product exposure, market response, product improvement, new applications, unique photo opportunities, and media coverage that money could not buy, all in a "real world" setting in actual time. Many new products or extensions to product lines have originated through our demonstration projects. Many of these firms are the leading edge companies with healthy materials, green products, innovative concepts and energy-efficiency appliances. All have to comply with criteria established in our [Mission/Vision Statement].

11.0) Demonstrations Projects: Two of the partners have worked on the design, construction and education of 5 demonstration projects since 1976, each a showcase of leading-edge technology with an estimated 150,000 visitors. Our suburban Home/Office, built in 1993-4, using "EcoStuds" does not use city water, sewer or gas lines. It does not have a furnace. More features are noted below and on our [Consulting/Plan Review] page. Our most recent demo project is a small strawbale municipal EcoOffice Building. Both are considered the leading-edge benchmarks. Both have won national awards.

12.0) [EcoHome]: Our flagship project does not use the city's water, sewer or gas lines. It has no furnace of boiler. It can be visited either in person, or by a virtual tour (coming soon). See our unique 3D inventory of concepts, features, materials, products, and appropriate technology for the new millennium, including a wall mounted translucent solar hot water collector; 3 types of solar ovens and cookers; a wide variety of high performance windows (including an R-17 COG window); water, energy and space saving washer-dryer combination; site built "cool closet" to bring the free outdoor temperatures inside during the winter; energy efficient fridge-freezer; barrier free design features; "bau biologie" furniture; integrated passive solar greenhouse for food production and water treatment; greywater irrigation, treatment and reuse; various forms of energy efficient lighting, including electroluminescence, compact fluorescents, and LEDs; passive solar heat gain; recycled content and durability; retrofit strategies and products including insulating curtains; and a waterless toilet, which serves as the major water conservation technique, a blue box recycling centre, and as a fertilizer plant. For more general information click Abstract. For a more technical summary of the energy, water, garbage and lifestyle benchmarks, please click [here].

13.0) Strawbale EcoOffice Building: This demonstration project for environmental and alternative energy technologies for public viewing, was completed in 2000. This "Municipal Environmental Education Centre" is meant to promote and demonstrate the use of sustainable design and construction through healthy materials, environmental stewardship, green products, appropriate technology, the many "R"s, resource conservation, and renewable energy for government, industry and the general public. It is our fourth ecobuilding demonstration project for the public since 1976. It recently was awarded a national award by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

This project is believed to be the first municipal project of its type in Canada. Some of the unique features of this small but integrated self-sufficient office building include: airtight straw bale wall construction ("Nebraska style"), shallow foundation (rubble trench), "Solarwall" solar preheat panels, partial seasonal earth solar storage, a high efficiency "Lifebreath" HRV, passive solar heating, solar hot water collectors, solar heated radiant floor heating system, high performance (i.e. R-17) fiberglass Duxton windows, rainwater harvesting, a photovoltaic (solar electric) grid-intertie system, and reused materials.

Partners of this project include: Home Depot, LaFarge Canada, ZyTeck Building Systems, Plasti-Fab, Pedersen Engineering, Conserval Engineering, NuTech Energy Systems, Soleno, Dow Chemical Canada Inc., Solar Services, Tim's ReUsables, National Concrete, LePage/Henkel Canada Corporation, Xpex Chemical Corporation, Soltek Solar Energy Ltd., Wirsbo Canada, Chacare Inc., and Can-Cell Industries.

14.0) Strawbale Workshops: Jorg and Helen Ostrowski started professional work in the strawbale field in 1979 with the help of the Alberta Agriculture. We located the Bad Heart church, the oldest surviving strawbale building in Alberta, and perhaps in Canada. This little church was built in 1954 and is still in use as a community centre. It has now become a small pilgrimage for strawbale enthusiasts. Jorg Ostrowski has given strawbale construction workshops/seminars/tours in Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan and PEI, including for First Nations in the 3 western provinces. He has also given various [papers] on strawbale design and construction. We have provided the opportunity of community workshops on residential projects (i.e. strawbale homes), commercials projects (i.e. [factory]), and municipal buildings (i.e. small office building). Several foreign delegations, including from Hungary and Mongolia have toured our strawbale work.

15.0) Products: Our reused solar collectors, CD-ROMs, double strawbale sewing needles and EcoPlans of sustainable homes will be going on sale as time and resources allow. If you have any interest in such items, please let us know. In particular our CDROM project will focus on 3 features of useful information for the layperson, students, professional, owner-builder, contractor/builder and renovator: 1) Sustainable Living, 2) Retrofit Technology, and 3) New Construction, all centred around the Alberta Sustainable Home/Office, and grounded in 27 years of "real world" experience, company goodwill, industry contacts.

16.0) Media Events: Our EcoHome has been reported in about 100 articles and media events, both national and International, including many appearances on CBC radio and TV, CTV, Access TV, Globe & Mail, Calgary Herald, etc. It has appeared in several text books and in a few international journals. Please check our Calendar of Events by clicking [here].

17.0) Walking the Talk: We try to practice what we preach. Two of the partners live in a sustainable home. Our office is sustainable. By daily use and experience, we learn first hand the advantages and limitations of the ideas, features, products and materials that we espouse in our professional work. We try to lead a conserver lifestyle both at home and at work.

18.0) Theory versus Reality: Good projects start by with useful information, vision and research as a start. But talk is cheap and easy. Good projects depend on real world clients transforming words into action, and staying true to their commitments to sustainable design and construction. Projects must remain modest in their ecological footprint, without becoming Epicurean. Design should be easy, though at times, laborious and convoluted. Construction is key, and unless the professional consultant spends enough time at the construction site, understanding the challenges and constantly searching for improvements, design remains an ivory tower exercise, deprived of pragmatic realities. Then the inhabitants have to try to live a sustainable lifestyle to see how the features, details, products, materials perform with real people in actual time, and how both the lifestyle and project can change to be better for the next project. A home can function like a sailboat and function like a miniature biosphere, relying on compassionate respect for the dynamics of nature, making use of its many real world lessons and materials. Therefore the formula for long term success is: sustainable project = research + commitment + design + construction + lifestyle.

19.0) Volunteers/Students: We have also accommodated the interests and thirst for exciting projects from many students from various faculties from various Schools of Higher learning, including Technical Institutes and Universities. We also have worked with numerous mature volunteers from retired professionals, career change people, and visionary leaders. Some of them can be met during our regular [EcoTours]. At the moment, we are looking for others to help our web/multimedia design team. If you have computer skills, and would like to be involved in this field on a volunteer basis, please [click here].

Thank you for having read this far and for your interest in our work. Please take a moment to send us a note of your interest. .

© Jorg Ostrowski 2003. All rights reserved.

Search EcoBuildings.Net:


Principals: Jorg Ostrowski, M. Arch. (M.I.T.), B. Arch. (Toronto), Helen Ostrowski, B. S. Arch. (U.S.T.)
28 years in "Real World" professional Green Building practice, new & retrofit, 4 residential/commercial Demonstration Projects completed