Philip S. Wenz


Philip S. Wenz is a designer, contractor, teacher and writer. He has been concerned about the state of our environment since his youth, and has emphasized “green building” ideas and techniques throughout his career. A partial list of his professional experience includes:

* 35 (+) years as a designer and general contractor specializing in residential remodeling in the San Francisco Bay Area. During his building career, Wenz designed virtually everything he built, and took numerous projects from the preliminary design stage to completion. He also designed projects for other builders and their clients. His latest project was a passive/active solar home built in Corvallis, Oregon.

* 25 (+) years as a teacher at Berkeley's Building Education Center (formerly Owner Builder Center), where he taught “House Building and Remodeling” (rewriting and expanding the school's original course format); and created and taught courses in Cabinet Making and Finish Carpentry and, most recently, Creating Your Ecological House.

* 10 (+) years as Director of the Ecological Design Program at the San Francisco Institute of Architecture (SFIA), where he obtained a master's degree in Ecological Design. At SFIA he created and taught the classes “Principles of Ecological Design” and the “Ecological Design Studio” (a “studio” in an architectural program is the equivalent of a “lab” in a chemistry class -- it's where students do their hands-on designing).

* He is the author of the book Adding to a House: Planning, Design and Construction (Taunton Press -- Fine Home Building Magazine, 1995, 263 pages). Adding to a House covers the entire topic of building residential additions in sufficient detail to be of use to a professional builder but is basic enough to appeal to home owners. The book was in print for about 10 years, and for a while was in the top 5% of Amazon's sales. As well as writing Adding to a House, Wenz drew all of the illustrations and took about half the photos.

* He has written articles for newspapers and technical publications throughout his career. Some of the latter include Fine Home Building Magazine, The Journal of Light Construction, The Owner Builder and Ecological Home Ideas and Planning.

* He is the creator and author of the nationally syndicated newspaper column Your Ecological House which has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle; Corvallis, Oregon, Gazette-Times; Albany, Oregon, Democrat-Herald; Helena, Montana, Independent-Record; Durango, Colorado, Herald; Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard, Rhode Island Call; Cape Fear (South Carolina) Going Green magazine and Ecological Home Ideas magazine. Selected articles from the Your Ecological House series are the basis for this book.

* He is the Publisher and Editor of the websites Ecotecture: The Journal of Ecological Design and Your Ecological House ( and

Philip lives in Monmouth, Oregon with his wife, Pam, where he divides his time between writing projects and continually improving their home ecosystem.

Contact him at

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up mostly in Durango and Boulder, Colorado. The beautiful natural setting, plus what I learned about what we used to call "conservation" in school, turned me into a confirmed environmentalist. Environmentalism and politics are inseparable, of course, so I am a political Progressive as well. I believe in all sorts of weird stuff like man-made climate change, population control, sustainable forestry and Permaculture. My environmental activism consists mainly of writing about these issues, both in my weekly newspaper column and on my website at
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Whew! Tough question. The first story I can remember reading — outside of school — was Tarzan at the Earth's Core, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The story, as I recall, was about Tarzan dropping through an extinct volcano into a world called "Pellucidar," where paleolithic mammals such as Saber Toothed Tigers and Wooly Mammoths roamed.

I think the lasting impact is that I learned that I could actually read a whole book and love every minute of it. Later that summer (fifth grade?), I read the "Children's Version of the Odyssey," and I've haven't stopped reading since.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Philip S. Wenz online


Your Ecological House Part 1: Understanding Your Home Ecosystem
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 71,750. Language: English. Published: December 29, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Sustainable living, Nonfiction » Art, Architecture, Photography » Architecture
Your Ecological House is a homeowner and designer’s guide to creating a “home ecosystem,” an integrated habitat that conserves and produces energy, reduces waste and produces food and other goods. Part 1 (this volume), explains how houses can function like natural ecosystems. Part 2, Creating Your Ecological House (published 2017), explains how to design and build your own home ecosystem.