Support Passage of The Cob Codes – NEXT ECONOMY CALL TO ACTION [Ep. 173]

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John Fordice – a California Licensed Architect with a small practice out of his home in Berkeley, CA –is the originating force behind the Cob Code effort.

Learning to build with cob in 1995 at a Cob Cottage Company workshop, he saw the need for cob to become recognized by the building codes in North America. He then wrote the initial Cob Code Proposal to encourage the cause of bringing cob into the Building Code.

 John has been involved in various cob projects including: the design and construction of several small cob buildings; developing a method of seismic stability components for use in cob buildings; was the architect of record for the first permitted cob building in California; written a cob design & construction guide for use in N. California locations; and demonstrated and taught various introduction to cob classes.

In 2010 John proposed the development of the nonprofit Cob Research Institute and has since served as Board President and Executive Director of CRI.  He is devoted to the ongoing effort to make a cob building code available for all who build. 

John's passions include cob, surfing, daily walks, and making things.

Martin Hammer is an architect in the San Francisco Bay Area and co-director of Builders Without Borders. Throughout his 35-year career, Martin has emphasized sustainable design, including use of passive solar, salvaged and repurposed materials, rammed earth, straw-clay, and with particular focus on the design, testing, and construction of straw bale buildings. 

Martin is a contributing author of the book Design of Straw Bale Buildings and has written and lectured widely on the subject. Since 2001, he has worked to include sustainable building systems in building codes. He is lead author of Appendices on Straw Bale ConstructionLight Straw-Clay Construction, and Tiny Houses in the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC). He is lead author with the Cob Research Institute (CRI) of the currently proposed IRC Appendix on Cob Construction (Monolithic Adobe).

In 2006-2007 Martin helped found Pakistan Straw Bale and Appropriate Building (PAKSBAB), introducing engineered straw bale construction to earthquake-affected Pakistan. From 2010-2013 he was extensively involved in reconnaissance, historic preservation, and sustainable rebuilding projects in post-earthquake Haiti, with the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the World Monuments Fund, and Builders Without Borders. Since 2015 Martin has worked on sustainable rebuilding in post-earthquake Nepal.

Anthony Dente, PE – Principal, and Owner at Verdant Structural Engineers & Board Member/Lead Structural Engineer at the Cob Research Institute – is a licensed Civil Engineer. Anthony is deeply passionate about effective material use for all building systems. He strives to assist the natural and green building community by providing leadership regarding developing design procedures for natural and green materials, increasing the safe and effective options available to future engineers.
Following his graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in architecture and engineering from Pennsylvania State University, Anthony moved westward to practice structural design and in particular straw bale structural design under Kevin Donahue, SE.

Anthony also serves as a board member for the Cob Research Institute (CRI). CRI is an organization in pursuit of making the permitting process for cob and other similar earthen matrices more accessible, with an end goal of an adopted earthen building code for North America. Anthony has advised, designed, and collaborated in numerous university based small scale and full scale testing programs on the structural behavior of natural materials. He has presented on these topics at various conferences including the West Coast Natural Building Conference and Earth USA


Interview Highlights:

  • John’s, Martin’s, and Anthony’s unique pathways into the field of architecture, engineering, and natural building

  • The many benefits of building with cob and other natural materials

  • The testing and development that went into the production of the Cob Codes and possible next steps for research and innovation

  • CALL TO ACTION: How you can support the passage of the Cob Building Codes!!!

  • Implications for workforce development and many other sectors of the economy should our efforts to pass the Cob Codes be successful


Cob Research Institute:

LIFT blog: Natural Building/Cob Enthusiasts: Help Get The Cob Building Codes Approved (Oct 26) !!!

Next Economy Now Podcast: Massey Burke: Natural Building, Carbon Sequestration, and Resilience in Climate Chaos [Ep. 115]

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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.


Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at