Sustainable Building

Green Building is More Than Just a Trend
Mark L. (Ron) Hixson has been building custom homes in the Treasure Valley for 30 years and truly believes that green building is more than just a trend.  With Southwestern Idaho homeowners facing rising energy and water costs, green building technologies minimize the impact and help keep home ownership affordable.
​Consult with your tax accountant about the financial incentives available to you for energy efficient residential building.  Financial incentives and financing programs can help with the cost of making energy efficient home improvements and installing renewable energy systems.

 Earthcraft Construction is a leader in Sustainable Building in the Treasure Valley​ 


​​Earthcraft Construction can incorporate passive solar design for all types of building styles. Even a traditional house can incorporate passive elements that make it more energy efficient, clean and green.


Earthcraft Construction has built three straw bale homes in the Treasure Valley. Straw bale construction is proven to be energy efficient and suitable for this region. Build your custom straw bale home with locally sourced bales, passive solar design, earth based plasters, and other energy saving elements such as: on demand hot water heaters, ductless mini split heating, radiant floors, energy efficient windows, solar panels, and more. 


In December 2007, Earthcraft (formerly Mark L. Hixson, Design-Build) completed a custom high-performance green-built home in the Boise foothills that earned a GOLD LEED rating. 


Earthcraft Construction collaorated with the Healthy Health Institute to build their headquarters in Boise, ID, based on clean building principles. 

Passive Solar

In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer. This is called passive solar design because, unlike active solar heating systems, it does not involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices.

The key to design a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate performing an accurate site analysis. Elements to be considered include window placement and size, and glazing type, thermal insulation, thermal mass, and shading.

Passive solar design techniques can be applied most easily to new buildings, but existing buildings can be adapted or "retrofitted".

  • Design for maximum winter sun exposure, minimal summer sun exposure 
  • Use eves size to control sun input
  • Incorporate thermal mass to absorb and distrubute heat
  • Design windows and vents to properly circulate air flow
  • Use buidling materials that optimize these design elements
  • Consider other solare options to maximize energy efficiency

Straw Bale Construction

  1. Managing Director
  2. Managing Director
  3. Managing Director


Boise's First Passive Solar Straw Bale Home
Winner of the City of Boise's 2010 Building Excellence Award, Green Building Category

  • ​Built with 240 bales of straw harvested from Meridian, Idaho
  • Walls 18-23" thick
  • Annual energy cost for this home: $500.00
  • Outside temperatures 54 - 95 degrees, inside it was a comfortable 69 - 74 degrees, requiring no AC unit.
  • Stucco made of dirt, sand and pigment


Custom Infill Straw Bale Project
  • 80% Passive solar
  • R32 Straw bale curtain walls
  • R52 Roof insulation
  • Solar photovoltaic panels efficient enough to run well pump, super-efficient refrigerator & interior LED lighting
  • Solar hot water
  • Reused concrete (urbanite) retaining walls & masonry veneer
  • "Permaculture" (edible landscaping)


Passive Solar Straw Bale with Loft
  • 80% Passive solar
  • R32 Straw bale curtain walls
  • R52 Roof insulation
  • Radiant Heat in Poured Concrete Flooring​

LEED Certified

LEED stands for ‘leadership in energy and environmental design’. LEED certification provides third-party assurance to homebuyers that their home complies with rigorous technical requirements for energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, non-toxic materials, and environmental performance.  Homes that are certified through LEED complete a verification process that includes home energy ratings and onsite inspections.  Lower insurance rates, advantageous financing, and government incentives may be available for LEED-certified homes.

Custom LEED "Gold" Home
  • High Efficiency (95%) Furnace w/MERV 16 Filter 15-SEER Air Conditioner
  • Energy Star® Approved Appliance and Lighting Package
  • Low VOC Finishes, Green-Label PLUS Carpet & FSC-Certified or Locally Harvested Lumber
  • Rainwater Harvesting Supplies Irrigation Needs
  • Drought-Tolerant & Indigenous Landscaping
  • Used Concrete (bound for the local landfill) Recycled for Masonry & Retaining Walls
*Used as a case study in the Guide To Green Building Rating Systems by architect Linda Reeder (John Wiley & Sons, 2010)

For more information on building a green home, we welcome your call; and be sure to visit the USGBC's Green Home Guide.


Building Clean require design and building decisions that minimize pollution and negatively effect the indoor health of your home environment. By removing aspects of the home that off-gas and/or collect dust and allergens, a healthier interior environment can be achieved.

 “You can have it all...(a)nd you don’t have to spend a fortune. If the homeowners and team are willing to be disciplined and rigorous and adopt a design-build paradigm to control costs and address the vital issues of health and sustainability, it’s amazing what can be done.” - Clean Homeowner

Healthy House Institute Headquarters
  • Certified by Energy Star and the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS
  • Energy Star® Approved Appliance and Lighting Package
  • Ductless, mini-split heat pumps — healthier and more efficient
  • Solar hot-water system, and a backup tankless water-heating unit that regulates incoming water
  • Advanced framing that provides more insulation per inch
  • Heat recovery ventilator balances saving energy through an aluminum-core transfer process while providing fresh air
  • Soy-based foam insulation, which seals potential leak points and provides a direct thermal barrier while greatly reducing VOCs compared to conventional spray-foam insulation
Earthcraft Construction partnered with The Healthy House Institute (HHI) to build the educational organization’s home headquarters in Boise, Idaho.

Article: New Home for the Healthy House Institute

Which Energy Saving Options Do You 
?Want for Your Custom Project
  1. Energy Star Certified
    ENERGY STAR certified new homes are designed and built to standards well above most other homes on the market today, delivering energy efficiency savings of up to 30 percent when compared to typical new homes.
  2. Passive/Active Solar
    Earthcraft Construction designs homes using passive solar principles to maximize the potential of the lot and house criteria. Extensive passive and active solar options are available to clients to meet their energy saving goals. Affordable Solar Solutions | Solar Hot Water | Solar Thermal HVAC
  3. Advanced Technologies
    Advanced Framing Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps Tankless Hot Water Systems Radiant Floor Heat Spray Soy Insulation
  4. Clean Building
    Clean building incorporates design elements and materials to remove environmental hazards by eliminating toxins and the "dirtiest" aspects of residential building, including: duct work, carpets, and crawl spaces. It also addresses ventilation & breathability, off-gassing & toxic materials.