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Social Impact Focused PUBLIC Journal released Second Issue

public journal, issue 2, public interest design, humanitarian design

The team at PUBLIC Journal proudly released the second issue of this wonderful magazine focused on all the good that designers are doing around the world. ConsciousBuild co-founder, and PUBLIC’s EIC, Andrew Goodwin, described this issue brilliantly in his letter to the readers:

As Samuel Mockbee once said, “architecture has to be greater than just architecture. It has to address social values, as well as technical and aesthetic values.” This second issue of PUBLIC Journal meets Mockbee’s challenge head on. Our contributors have brought together a group of stories that examine how architecture and the process of design can change lives – sometimes for years to come. We examine how Jensen Architects’ SHED in Healdsburg, Calif. tells the story of how re-imaging the space for the Grange movement can help breath life into small towns. Two projects from two different universities (Tulane and Virginia Tech) help to illustrate how teaching the next generation of change-makers is essential for the future of architecture. We also take a trip across the pond, yet again, to Africa, where we see how a project can help to bring economy and social sustainability to a community in need.

Please download the PUBLIC App or order a subscription online. Individual issues are also available online!


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Building Foundations for the Future: RWANDA


Some of the pro-bono clients of ConsciousBuild’s unique business model are beginning to bear fruit, and we felt it was necessary to illustrate the model again – as well as the results!

ConsciousBuild believes that all people deserve good design in this world, even if they can’t afford it. That is why our business model operates so that we can set aside some of the profit from our clients in order to work on  pro-bono and non-profit projects each year. Last year, we found that we dedicated 3.2% of our profit and time to pro-bono projects. One of those projects is the Sunzu Library in Rwanda.

The Sunzu Library is a community project for the Sunzu Village in the Northern Province of Rwanda. This region is known to be home to some of the poorest and most under-educated people in Rwanda. The owner of the property reached out to Journeyman International (our sister non-profit design organization), and had an idea of how to promote change throughout this region. His idea was to build a “library”, which could also be used as a women’s center, a community meeting room, and a library for children. Our staff at ConsciousBuild teamed with two SLO-based structural engineers (Michel Kalin of MKSE, and Dove Daniel of Cannon) in order to provide working construction drawings for the client, and over the past year the client has began to build the library with a volunteer workforce. Just recently the walls went up!

If you want to learn more about how you can contribute to this kind of work, or if you have a project that may be perfect for our team, please contact us at Even your custom home project here in California can have a huge impact on populations half a world away through ConsciousBuild’s pro bono commitment!


+ Andrew C. Goodwin, AIA, LEED AP
Photo Credits: Dan Klinck




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How To Cool Your Home For FREE!


People who don’t live in San Luis Obispo think that our Summers are always 75 degrees and sunny. While this is mostly true (muahaha), there are occasional days where temperatures soar past 90 degrees and sometimes 100 degrees. If you are a SLO resident you know exactly what I mean, because last week was treacherous, with highs peaking near 104 degrees. For most people this isn’t a problem if you’re at work or school. Most commercial buildings use large air conditioning systems to keep us fresh and cool. The challenge is always staying cool when we are at home without someone cooling our spaces for us. Some of the smallest mistakes can cause you to overheat your home to an undesirable temperature, resulting you to run to the nearest Fro-Yo and indulge on their newest tart (not a bad way to go). In this article I will teach you some basics to passively maximize the coolth in your home without using any mechanical systems. Think of all the Fro-Yo you can buy with all the money you will save!

1. Prep Work: Reduce Your Loads

Reducing your loads is the first and most important step before adjusting other factors. Surprisingly, all your small gadgets and doo-dads are always using electricity and generating heat whether you are using them or not. These are your phantom-loads. Secondly, try and reduce the amount of electric lighting you use in the daytime since they are another source of heat. Incandescent light bulbs emit 90% heat and only 10% light. Your eyes will automatically adjust to a lower light level and this way you are cutting another source of heat. Lastly, tasks like ironing, cooking, and laundry should be done during cooler parts of the day to reduce the amount of heat generated when the temperature is at its peak.

2. Maximizing The Efficiency Of Your Home

Now that you have reduced as many loads in your home as possible, we can begin work on your home itself. The general idea is to reflect the heat during the hot afternoons, and cool your home in the evenings. When you wake up in the morning shut all your blinds, close your windows and cover up any other areas that receive direct solar gain. By closing up your openings you will kick out the hot sunlight and maintain cooler temperatures inside. In contrast, having your windows wide open will soak up tons of heat and capture it inside making your home feel hotter than it is outside.

Once the sun starts to set and the temperature get cooler it is safe to open up your home again. In the evening your goal should be to flush out all the heat from your home and cool the inside. Opening multiple windows on different sides of your house will create cross ventilation, and opening high and low windows will create stack ventilation; both methods are acceptable to flush heat from your home.

By following these methods you are using your home’s thermal mass to it’s advantage. This is the most environmental and economic way to cool your home in the summer. To go even further with passive strategies consider upgrading some essential parts of your home as a long term investment. Some general tips are to re-insulate the walls and roof of your home, upgrade to energy efficient appliances, sealing all your leaky window and door joints, and replacing your old windows with energy efficient double or triple pane glazing with low-e coatings.

Thanks for reading and stay cool!

+ M. Farid Shahid
Photo Credit:

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PUBLIC Journal Is Coming!


Folks clear out your bookshelves and charge your smart phones, because this Tuesday, May 6th, a new design journal is hitting the newsstands and app stores! PUBLIC Journal is a new quarterly publication that will blow your mind and provide that fuzzy warm feeling inside with thought provoking articles about Public Interest Design. It is the intersection between the world of architecture and the voices of activism, exposing those who provide good design for the people who need it most but often don’t receive it. Lets face it – conscious designers making noteworthy impacts are needed more than ever. This is why a group of humanitarians in the fields of architecture, environmental design, and public policy came together to form PUBLIC.

PUBLIC Journal will truly be about the content and will have limited but long term partnerships with like-minded advertisers. The bulk of the journal will be entirely focused on the projects; featuring exceptional photography paired with the highest degree of analytical writing done by the industry’s most forward thinking and talented journalists. Today’s Public Interest Design movement deserves to be exposed and talked about. Through PUBLIC Journal, professionals, universities, corporations, and global citizens will now have a noteworthy journal to satisfy their humanitarian cravings.

PUBLIC Journal will debut its first Spring Issue this Tuesday, May 6th. It will be available in print through a subscription base, and hopefully will be on newsstands later in the year. The easiest way to access PUBLIC is digitally through our mobile apps in Apple Newsstand, Google Play, and Amazon.

Like PUBLIC on Facebook and Follow PUBLIC on Twitter and automatically get entered into a drawing to win a FREE issue!

+M. Farid Shahid


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Shigeru Ban, 2014 Pritzker Prize Laureate

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013 
Photo by Stephen Goodenough

Architect: Shigeru Ban

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013
Photo by Stephen Goodenough

Back in 1979 the Pritzker family established The Pritzker Architecture Prize using funds from their Hyatt Foundation. The Pritzker Prize is awarded annually to one living architect for significant achievement. It is referred to as the most prestigious award an architect can receive in their lifetime. If chosen, the architect receives $100,000, a bronze medallion, and a ceremony at an architecturally significant site. Some past winners have been Jean Nouvel, Thom Mayne, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and many more.

It was just announced a few weeks ago that the 2014 laureate of The Pritzker Architecture Prize is Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. After looking through his portfolio of work you will notice his elegant attention to detail and craft. One of the reasons he was chosen by the jury this year is for his inventive and resourceful design process regardless of who his client is. Ban has done work for high end private clients as well as humanitarian organizations. For twenty years he has travelled to natural disaster sites around the world to work with local citizens and provide them with low-cost and dignified design & construction solutions.

Shigeru Ban is quoted in saying, “Receiving this prize is a great honor, and with it, I must be careful. I must continue to listen to the people I work for, in my private residential commissions and in my disaster relief work. I see this prize as encouragement for me to keep doing what I am doing — not to change what I am doing, but to grow.“

One aspect of Ban’s work I would like to highlight is his innovative use of cardboard paper tubes. You can see them being used as columns, beams, and as walls when grouped together. These tubes are usually available locally and are easy to transport and build with. Ban says his Japanese upbringing has led him to design with as little waste as possible.

When announcing this year’s laureate, Tom Pritzker said, “Shigeru Ban’s commitment to humanitarian causes through his disaster relief work is an example for all. Innovation is not limited by building type and compassion is not limited by budget. Shigeru has made our world a better place.”

I encourage you to learn more about Shigeru Ban by visiting his website, Lastly, this year’s award ceremony will take place on June 13th, 2014 at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You can stream it live by visiting

+ M. Farid Shahid
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The Architectural 3D Printing Revolution!

During his visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The 3D Print Canal House was presented to United States’ President Barack Obama by the Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan.
Image: During his visit to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The 3D Print Canal House was presented to President Barack Obama by the Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan.
About 3D Printing

Believe it or not, 3D printing has been around since 1984 when inventor Chuck Hull built the world’s first working model. However, it took until the start of the 21st century for this technology to truly take off. Latest estimates from Wohlers Associates states that the market for 3D printing in 2012 was worth $2.2 Billion worldwide, which was a 29% increase from the year prior.

When compared to traditional machining techniques that rely on subtraction methods of removing material by cutting and drilling, 3D printing has an advantage of using an additive methods by printing virtually any shape. Although the most common materials used to print are thermoplastics, some printers can also print edible materials, rubber, clay, porcelain, titanium, aluminium, stainless steel, paper, and photopolymer. Currently, 3D printing is being implemented in industries  ranging from architecture & construction, aerospace & military, fashion, and more.

3D Print Canal House: Amsterdam (The Netherlands) | DUS Architects

For the past few weeks thousands of people in Amsterdam have been visiting the site of what is being called the “World’s First 3D Printed House”. Known as the 3D Printed Canal House, this site is an exhibition for 3D Printing Architecture. The innovative company behind this project is the Dutch firm DUS Architects. DUS Architects specializes in Public Architecture that consciously influences our daily life.

There is nothing conventional about the construction of this house! The entire design of this house is thoroughly modeled using state of the art computer software. Afterwards, each room assembly is printed on site separately, and put together like giant Lego pieces. The material being used for this house is a biological plastic containing 75% plant oil and reinforced with microfibers. The building assemblies are being printed in a honeycomb lattice shape that acts as a structural element, and is later filled with lightweight concrete for insulation and additional strength.

The most fascinating aspect of this type of construction is that the ornamentation, exterior facade, structure, and inner facade are all printed as one solid piece. This is definitely one of the most optimal forms of systems integration. In this wall assembly you will find construction connections, cables, pipes, wiring, and more. The result is a seamless and streamlined look.

Enjoy this video for more information on the 3D Print Canal House, and if you’re in the area anytime soon tickets are only €2,50!

The Future of 3D Printing

As costs of 3D printing are dropping every year the possibilities with this technology are endless. The goal for many of the 3D printer manufacturers is for each household to someday own a domestic 3D printer. This will enable the general public to 3D print common household items from an open source database. For example, if you run out of forks for a dinner party there is no need to drive to the store, because you can print your own in minutes. I am not sure when this will become a reality, but it sure is exciting to see projects like the house in Amsterdam being built.

What are your thoughts on the future of 3D printing? Send us your ideas in the comments below!

+ M. Farid Shahid

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“If You Build It”-Film Review

This past week was the 20th anniversary of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. All week long dozens of world class films were shown throughout the county at every film venue you can imagine. This year Journeyman International and ConsciousBuild Inc. proudly sponsored the viewing of If You Build It at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The film, “follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what’s possible” (

#1 - Emily Pilloton with Studio H students CJ Robertson and Stevie Mizelle. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013_small

Emily Pilloton with Studio H students CJ Robertson and Stevie Mizelle. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013

#10 - The completed Windsor Farmers Market at dusk. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013. Courtesy of Brad Feinknopf_small

The completed Windsor Farmers Market at dusk. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013. Courtesy of Brad Feinknopf.


This documentary is a slam dunk in my opinion! The high-end production quality, witty humor, and captivating story line will keep you in your seat for the entire 95 minutes. The film starts off by introducing rural Bertie County and the high school students it will follow. The film maker depicts the town as this degrading sinkhole that has no future outlook for its youth. The current working class is barely making it and all the youth are leaving town with every opportunity they get. Emily and Matt arrive to change all that and to instill hope for their town by motivating a group of high school students to build a community center.

After completing this film I was completely astonished with what high school students could achieve with a little support and guidance. At first, most of the students resisted and didn’t want to be in the program. However, after completing some smaller projects they realized how rewarding design can be. Towards the end of the two years each and every student had grown tremendously in their character, skills, and passion for Bertie County. If you are passionate about design & community then this is a must see film for you!

Official Trailer:

Panel Discussion:

After the film had ended,  Journeyman International and ConsciousBuild hosted a special panel discussion to share what public interest design meant to them. The audience was mostly SLO County residents that were non-students, which was very useful in creating a dynamic discussion. Most of the questions were centered around how Journeyman operates and what their current projects consisted of. I think the discussion was important, because it allowed the audience to meet professionals in their own community who are doing projects similar to what If You Build It had depicted. Public Interest Design is steadily growing each year, with many companies devoting a portion of their time and profit towards improving communities in need all over the world. Journeyman International is working hard every day to put San Luis Obispo on the map as a leader in public interest design and community based architecture in an international capability. To learn more visit


Panel discussion followed by the film. Left to right: Matthew Linden, Daniel Wiens, Stephanie Fellows, and Andrew Goodwin.

+ M. Farid Shahid
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California’s Prize-fighter in Solar Electric Generation Opens!

You come home from a long day and with the flick of a switch your lights turn on. You open your refrigerator doors and there is a nice variety of cold foods and beverages waiting for you, glamorized by the incandescent light bulb that beautifully highlights them. After you have gotten your drink and ate dinner you can relax on that couch and watch your favorite show on your big screen high-definition LCD TV. We are certainly blessed with the ample amount of energy we have available to us here in the United States. For those of us living in California, here are the different types of electricity we produce (highest to lowest): Natural gas, renewables, nuclear, hydroelectric, and the almost non-existent coal.

Today I would like to talk about our state’s latest renewable energy power plant, The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. Located in Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed on the edge of the California-Nevada border, you might see this site on your next road trip to Las Vegas. This facility just opened yesterday and will provide up to 377 gross megawatts of clean energy. Unlike other solar electric farms that use photovoltaics (solar panels), Ivanpah is a solar thermal power plant. They use thousands of movable mirrors, called heliostats, that direct concentrated beams of sunlight to a power tower, which in turn produces the electricity using the large amounts of heat that is captured.

Although this project cost $2.2 Billion, more than half of the funding was provided by the US Department of Energy as a loan guarantee. The owners of this project are NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy, and Google Inc. BrightSource currently has contracts to sell 2/3 of the energy to PG&E and the rest to Southern California Edison. 

Here are some more facts from Ivanpah’s website about this project:

-The electricity generated by all three plants at the Ivanpah solar complex is enough to serve more than 140,000 homes in California.

-The Ivanpah project has received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee by the US Department of Energy to help fund this project. The solar complex nearly doubles the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. today.

-More than 13.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be avoided over the 30-year life cycle of the plant, equivalent to taking 2.1 million cars off the road. This solar complex also cuts major air pollutants by 85% compared to new natural gas-fired power plants.

-BrightSource’s LPT solar thermal systems being deployed at Ivanpah use a air-cooling system. This dry-cooling system allows us to reduce water usage by more than 90% over competing solar thermal technologies using conventional wet cooling systems.

-The Ivanpah project will employ 170,000 low-impact heliostats. The entire Ivanpah project features an industry-leading low-impact design, resulting in maximum land-use efficiency. The heliostat technology places individual mirrors onto metal poles that are driven into the ground, which allows vegetation to coexist underneath and around our mirrors; reduces the need for extensive land grading; and uses far fewer concrete pads than other technologies. The project is also thoughtfully sited near existing roads and transmission lines and in an area where human activity has already left its mark.

If you don’t get a chance to see this project in person, here is a great virtual tour that shows multiple parts of this development:


+M. Farid Shahid



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Code Crackers!

As most of us were waking up from our New Years Eve parties, the California Building Code was up bright and early ready for its new changes. As of January 1st, 2014, we have to follow the 2013 Edition of California Building Standards Codes. Since the code is issued on a triennial basis, everyone was using the 2010 California Building Code before the new changes. The new code updates are slightly more stringent in order to be on track for the major goal of being zero tnt energy by the year 2020 for residential and 2030 for all commercial. A Zero Net Energy building produces as much energy as it consumes in one year. This can easily be achieved by designing a building to the highest energy efficiency standards and then supplementing it with energy production on site (solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-electric, etc.).

Here is an updated list of the 12 part 2013 California Building Standards Code:

Part 1 Administrative Code
Part 2 California Building Code (CBC)
Part 2.5 California Residential Code (CRC)
Part 3 California Electrical Code (CEC)
Part 4 California Mechanical Code (CMC)
Part 5 California Plumbing Code (CPC)
Part 6 California Energy Code
Part 7 (Currently Vacant)
Part 8 California Historical Building Code
Part 9 California Fire Code (CFC)
Part 10 California Existing Building Code
Part 11 California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen)
Part 12 California Referenced Standards Code

As difficult and challenging building codes may be, they are crucial to the safety and well-being of the general public. Imagine a world where on a daily basis, you were uncertain if the ceiling was going to fall down, or if the stairs would collapse. Building codes provide everyone with a safe and level playing field that protects all building end users. This is why architects are so valuable in an ever changing world of new technologies, changing building codes, and an evolving environment. Architects, engineers, builders, and the like are at the forefront of these changes. We are committed to enhance the built environment around us, and to make our communities a better place to live in.

Lastly, I would like to end this post by introducing you to the Architecture 2030 Challenge. The 2030 challenge is like a pact that the industry’s leading professionals are making in order to reduce the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing our emissions is the key to addressing our planet’s climate change. By the year 2030, our goal is to be carbon-neutral by emitting zero fossil fuel greenhouse gases to operate.

Here is a good example of a Net Zero Energy project in Georgia. To learn more, click the link below for the full article.


Via Jetson Green


+M. Farid Shahid




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“…Lose Yourself In The Service of Others”




Our firm is dedicated to giving back to the communities in which we work, and we make sure our clients know that their projects help to make other humanitarian design work possible around the world. This past year ConsciousBuild, Inc made a significant difference for many non-profit and NGO’s around the world by donating 3.8% of our time to help provide design and consulting services pro bono. Many of our staff members even went above and beyond by helping outside of the office with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Journeyman International, and Architecture for Humanity. Thank you ConsciousBuild Staff and ConsciousBuild Clients for making such a huge difference for thousands around the world! Here is a list of some of the projects that we donated our time towards in 2013:

1) Sunzu Village Library, Sunzu Village, Rwanda – Made possible by Private Donor

2) Ofelen Lakey Orphanage, Kenscoff, Haiti – Child Hope International

3) Kili Centre Orphanage, Tanzania – Kili Centre

4) RED Studio, San Luis Obispo (teaching and designing) – Journeyman International

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi 

+ Andrew C. Goodwin, AIA, LEED AP
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