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Architectural Harmonics
Biome DesignSacred SpacesResidentialCommercialAbout UsContact
Michael Bertin
Arnie Valdez
Biome Design
Market Growth Trends
About Us
Market Growth Trends
Twenty years ago there was very little public awareness about organic and natural foods. There was only a smattering of health food stores and food co-ops, while otherwise the availability of healthy food was a rarity. As the demand for organic, less processed and more nutritional foods grew, so grew the market and so today we see such successful chain 'super markets' as Whole Foods and Wild Oats, not to mention the multiplicity of organic and natural food producing companies that supply them.

Currently, the building and real estate development industries are at the exact place that the food industry was twenty years ago. With growing public awareness about indoor air quality, toxic building materials and 'sick house syndrome' there is a rapidly growing market for organic and natural homes as well as sustainable, non-toxic building materials. As of yet there has been very little 'main-stream' endeavors to move into this newly growing market niche, leaving open a potentially very lucrative business opportunity. Also, at this time, there is an ever growing concern about energy and our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuel sources; the burning of which happens to be the primary cause our current state of environmental degradation. Once again main-stream industry has been slow to respond; lack of interest from the Federal Government has not helped the situation, nonetheless, here again, is another great market potential.

In addition to the conversation about profitability there is an even more important purpose to pursuing this direction: environmental healing and enhancing the human condition. This is the essence of BIOME DESIGN and the principal focus of the work performed and promoted by Architectural Harmonics. We have set ourselves apart from the herd by developing expertise in such areas as: alternative construction methods, natural building materials, renewable energy systems, harmonic proportions, indigenous wisdom and timeless traditional design. Architectural Harmonics stands in the vanguard for bringing natural and sustainable product into the building and real estate development industries. The opportunity is before us is to create the 'Whole Foods' of the construction industry.

Biome Design Principals can be adapted to virtually any scope of building and development; examples follow:

Residential example: Ben Levi Residence - Boulder, Colorado - 2001
Winner: Colorado Renewable Energy Society - Award for Excellence - 2002


  • Pumice-crete (organic, non-combustible) construction
  • Earth bermed into hillside
  • Roof water collection cistern (2000 gal.)
  • Photovoltaic system (1.8 kw) w/ net metering
  • Solar hot water collectors
  • Masonry mass fireplace w/ water heating coil
  • Hot water storage tank (500 gal.) w/ heat exchangers for radiant heat & domestic hot water
  • Harmonic Proportions
  • Wild fire safe construction
  • Non-toxic building material & finishes
  • Daylighting ('Solatubes') for interior spaces
  • Heat recovery ventilation/filtration system
  • Root cellar cool storage (114 sf)
  • Cistern water filtration system
  • Grey water landscape irrigation system
  • Metal tile (non-combustible) roofing

Commercial example: San Luis Headstart - San Luis, Colorado - 2003


  • Compliance as a 'contributing structure' to the San Luis Historic District
  • Passive solar design; 'Solar Gallery' with adobe block trombe wall
  • 15 kW 'Uni-Solar' panels; Building Integrated Photovoltaic electric system
  • Interior daylighting; 'Solatube' skylights
  • Attic ventilation: 'Solar Star' Photovoltaic attic fans
  • 'Pella' windows with 5.5 R value and integral shades
  • 'Reward Wall' ICF exterior wall construction for high energy efficiency and structural integrity, also saves trees otherwise used for wall framing
  • Natural ventilation; Heat chimneys vent solar heat gain in summer and circulate it into classrooms in winter
  • Pre-heat or cooling of make-up outside air
  • Non-toxic and low VOC building materials and finishes through-out
  • Traditional Harmonic Proportions

Community example: HASAV - High Altitude Solar Adobe Village
(design only; for a site near Crestone, Colorado @ 8000 ft. elevation)

  • Biome Design integrates village into Ecosystem
  • Village community; year round living for 100 people
  • Community School and Conference Center for 250 people
  • Design incorporates Natural Harmonic Proportions
  • Key Systems:

Building Construction:

  • Design
    • Shaped by topography
    • Harmonic Proportions
  • Materials
    • Indigenous
    • Organic - non toxic
    • Regionally available
  • Systems
    • Domes, arches, vaults
    • Cast in place roofs

Energy Production:

  • Photovoltaic Electric System
    • Primary energy source for entire village
    • 32Kw panel array
    • Battery storage: 4-7 days backup
    • Designed into site as a retaining wall
  • Biogas (Methane) System
    • Anaerobic Digester -first stage of waste treatment
    • Back-up generator
    • Distributed for cooking

Heating, Cooling and Ventilation:

  • Passive Solar Design
    • South facing windows and glazing
    • Heat storage media
    • Attached solar greenhouses
  • Ventilation
    • Heat chimneys
      • Cooling in Summer
      • Heat distribution in Winter
      • Air circulation and ventilation

Water Supply and Distribution:

  • On-site well with PV pump
  • 65,000 gallon domestic water cistern
  • Sand filtration system
  • Gravity-fed distribution through village
  • Asecia (stream) flows through village

Storm water Management:

  • Design catches all storm water
    • Roof catchment
    • Site runoff
  • 25,000 gallon village cistern
  • 1,000 gallon home cisterns
  • Water retension pond
  • Uses for reclaimed water
    • Drip irrigation
    • Food production and landscaping

Food Production and Permaculture:

  • 15 acres of agriculture land
  • Bio-intensive greenhouse planting beds
  • Bio-intensive garden area under fabric screen
  • Medicinal herbs
  • Edible landscaping
  • Aquaculture tanks (edible fish)
  • Small livestock (meat, eggs, milk, cheese)

Waste Treatment:

  • Centralized sanitary drainage system
    • Sewage
    • Kitchen waste (garbage disposal)
    • Agriculture waste (shreader)
  • "Living Machine" -Waste water treatment
    • Anarobic Digester extracts gas
    • Sludge is composted for fertalizer
    • Marsh and pond micro-ecosystems assimilates toxins, pathogens and heavy metals, leaving water potable
    • Air lift pumping aerates water and feeds fish tanks
    • Tank overflow irrigates agricultural plantings
  • Recycling Center

Community Life and Economic Self-sufficiency:

  • Community Center
    • Theater/meeting hall
    • Community school / learning center
    • Community kitchen/dining
    • Library & computer center
    • Art gallery
  • Village life as educational model
  • Council style Village governance
  • Economic base
    • Education Center for Sustainalbe Living
    • Agricultural & aquacultural prodece
    • Cottage Industries

BIOME DESIGN: If we, as a species, are going to fit into the already tenuous balance of the Earth's environment we need to account for all of the ingredients necessary for that balance. The intent of BIOME DESIGN is, therefore, to assess and utilize that which is before us in order to create a built environment that is harmonious with nature. This assessment includes, not only all of the natural resources and elemental forces (sun, wind, water & earth) at any given building site but also all of the concepts, ideas and techniques appropriate for the particular design. There are many groups, agencies and individuals that have been out there for decades, doing great works in developing new innovations in life enhancing technologies, revitalization of old knowledge and creating new methods and materials that support a healthy environment. They are all certainly on the right track, but as long as they each operate separately, trying to hold on to a specialized and separate autonomy, and not see themselves as part of the unity and continuum of creation, then none will see the full potential of their own knowledge that only comes through synergy, from blending and working together to create a comprehensive Whole. The purpose of BIOME DESIGN is the integration of natural materials and energy with our own needs and thereby design ourselves into the ecosystem as a contributing part. It is applicable to urban, suburban and rural development in any and all climatic conditions and can be utilized to generate designs that can enhance both the building's occupants and the surrounding landscape, as well. This approach can be very profitable, not only in monetary return but for environmental 'profit' and well being, as well.

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