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About the Sustainable Building Alliance

The Sustainable Building Alliance is the culmination of 15 years of work in the United States by the award winning non-profit IronStraw Group. As educators and advocates for sustainable building since 1992, the Sustainable Building Alliance acts as a compact, dynamic and effective business for environmental and social change in New Zealand.

Now located in Golden Bay we are sponsoring workshops and seminars throughout the country. Look at our Workshops page for current events. We are also developing models of sustainable neighborhoods and strawbale homes that use the most sustainable and affordable components.

Founder and Director, Michael Thomas, is an educator and college teacher. He brings his years of experience to the unique challenges facing New Zealand's housing needs. One of the goals as the Sustainable Building Alliance is to bring affordable housing that is also energy efficient and sustainable to all of New Zealand. We believe there should be a "Natural Intelligence in Design" that will help homes be warm in the winter and cool in the summer without relying only on mechanical means.

We have successfully worked with Native American tribes in the U.S. to provide quality strawbale homes where needed. It's great to see tribal youth and Elders working side by side and sharing the experience of creating sound homes. Our efforts have educated and empowered other organizations to reach out to their communities building quality strawbale homes and structures. Successfully recreating ourselves multiplies the effects of our vision of sustainable communities through strawbale building.

During the time we worked as The IronStraw Group in the United States, Spring Thomas was involved in all aspects of IronStraw's work. Since we have relocated to New Zealand and become the Sustainable Building Alliance, Spring has stepped down and is no longer working as part of the staff. We appreciate all she did to support our vision and our work.

All our houses provide a comfortable and environmentally friendly home for the people living in them. We believe in building stronger communities through strawbale building and Wall Raising Workshops where people from all over the world have come together to help build a home for someone they usually do not know. It's what we call our "Neighbor to Neighbor" program.

Our efforts to provide affordable housing have also included pioneering strawbale work with Habitat for Humanity. We have been successful in getting approved the first strawbale homes for Habitat in local city jurisdictions (city and county district building departments are separate in the United States). We have successfully received approval for every home permit for which we have applied.

Awards and Recognitions:

  • Founders of a New Northwest 2002
  • Builders of 1st Strawbale Public Library in the United States

You can go to our awards page to see more information about what we've done. Or look at our achievements in a .pdf file - both available by clicking the links below.



For further information please feel free to contact Michael Thomas, Executive Director of Sustainable Building at the address and email below.


Sustainable Building Alliance Ltd
71 Morton Street
Invercargill, 9812
New Zealand
011 64 3 216 5596 (from the US)

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