Long Way Home's Green Building Academy

March 2019 & July 2019

Do you want to learn how to build an off-the-grid sustainable home using alternative materials such as used tires, eco bricks, glass bottles, and bamboo? 

Video created by Visionaries Public Television Series in anticipation of upcoming documentary episode.

Our 1 month Green Building Academy course gives participants a solid background and hands-on experience in sustainable building and construction practices. The Academy will draw on the expertise of the Academy's instructors, who for 10 years have built an 18-building school using state-of-the-art green and sustainable technologies and methods.

The Green Building Academy provides a menu of unique educational options that are relevant to both professionals and students inside AND outside of the construction industry. Guided by best practices in green construction, the Academy is dedicated to educating individuals and organizations, in both theory and practical application, about sustainable design, planning, and building practices. Participants will connect to their environment, and develop increased consciousness & competence relating to sustainability, environmental & ecological balance, and ethical & respectful community development. The Academy equips participants with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to apply their creativity to design and construction using sustainable, unconventional materials and low-impact methodologies with potential for off-grid implementation.

Video created by Visionaries Public Television Series in anticipation of upcoming documentary episode.

Who Can Benefit from attending the Green Building Academy?

A broad range of people of different ages representing diverse cultures, languages, education levels, and backgrounds, including:

  • People in construction/building fields interested in honing skills and developing new skills

  • High school and college students as well as gap-year students **Ask us about possible college credit**

  • Architects and engineers

  • Permaculturalists

  • Environmental activists

  • Education and social service workers

  • Aspiring educators as well as veteran teachers who are considering experiences that will shape their approach to teaching and learning

  • Educators seeking pathways for re-certification credit/salary steps

  • Spiritual and community leaders

  • Business leaders

  • Mid-career transitioners

  • Retired people

  • People seeking restoration and renewal along with experiencing language/cultural immersion

Now with the option for just weekly sessions! See options and more info below.


Course Details:

Session 1: March 2019 Session 2: July 2019

1 week participation now available!

Hands-on/Lab - 120 hours
Classroom - 40 hours

What we learn in the classroom we will apply in the construction of a new house for a local family with limited economic resources in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala.

Building manual and certification given to participants whom complete full 160 hours.

Price: Full month Green Building Academy March or July 2019 USD 2.400 $

One week Green Building Academy March or July USD 700 $

College Credit Available! Ask us for details


Week 1.

How to Approach the Design of your Building
Passive Solar Design – Insulation and Thermal Mass

Week 2.
Understanding Earth
Testing Earth
Site Establishment and Foundations
Plasters and Mortar Mixes

Week 3.
Introduction to Cement and Concrete
Focus on Tire Construction
Focus on Arches, Vaults and Domes


Week 4.

Off-Grid Energy as an Alternative to Centralized Energy Systems
How to Design your own Off-Grid Solar Energy System

Fundamentals of Water Management
Water Supply Management
Focus on Grey Water
Focus on Black Water
Focus on Pumps, Pipes and Tanks

Electives ($10/hr)

Language: Spanish or Kaqchikel
Cooking: Local cuisine, tortilla making
Painting: Arte Naif history, painting class
Weaving: Backstrap
Music: Marimba
Geography, History, Culture: Latin American, Guatemalan, Comalapan, Mayan
Grassroots NGO Development
In-Country Field Trips/Tours: Ruins of Iximche and Mixco Viejo, colonial capital of Antigua, market town of Chichicastenango, and Guatemala City museums (each trip will have a specific additional price)

Unconventional building materials used:

Glass bottles
Cob, Adobe



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Peter McIntosh

Classroom & Hands-On

Peter has been building with earth since 1999 and as a result he has a unique level of experience and knowledge about the various natural building materials and techniques in South Africa. On a mission to spread the word about natural building he has been teaching and running natural building courses since 2010, after starting Natural Building Collective.




Guy Williams

Classroom & Hands-On

Guy’s training and work experience include industrial water treatment, aquaponics and aquaculture, water management systems, rammed-earth tire and trash construction, landscaping and beekeeping. He was raised in Gaborone, Botswana and studied biological and environmental sciences at Rhodes University. He spent a year doing wildlife research in Tuli and is driven to preserve ecosystems and restore planetary imbalance. He is the founder of Dynegy which pioneers tailor-made integrated solutions for water, energy, shelter and food production challenges from industry to household in Botswana.




Matt Paneitz

NGO/Project Management

Matt was raised in Lufkin, TX. He first went to Guatemala as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2002. At the end of his service, his in-country counterpart, the director of a local NGO, requested Matt’s help in transforming a five-acre piece of land into a community park. In 2004 Matt filed the non-profit application to start LWH and by Feb 2005, Parque Chimiya was underway. Prior to starting LWH Matt worked in construction and as a 911 Paramedic. In 2013 he earned a Bachelor’s in Sustainability and in 2015 a Masters in Education.


Robin Rutchik

NGO/Project Management

Robin came to Long Way Home as a curious volunteer after trying her hand in grassroots development of environmental non-profits. Learning about green building sparked an inspiration in the beauty of physical change that can be made on the local level. She broadened her skills in NGO management from Volunteer Coordinator to Director of Development to Project Manager in just 3 short years with Long Way Home - developing the LWH website, managing financials and personnel in one of its' largest years yet. On top of Project Manager, she is working towards her masters in Sustainable International Development.


Hugo Chex


Hugo was born and raised in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala. He joined the LWH team in 2011 as an experienced mason and was soon promoted to project foreman. Hugo has since led green building projects in several regions in Guatemala, in 2014 was critical to the construction of multiple off-the-grid homes in Choachi, Colombia and is currently the foreman of a 40+ person green building crew in Comalapa.


  • Lodging: 30 nights (1 month)

    1. Dorm-style shared hotel room (2-4 beds per room) with shared bathroom (included)

    2. Private hotel room - Costs extra - $250

    3. Home-stay w/local family.  Costs extra  - $250

  • Food: Breakfasts, lunches and dinners will be provided for all 30 days. Lunch will be prepared on the work site by a local family every day. Breakfasts and dinners will be provided at the hotel (or home-stay). Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

  • Transportation:  Transportation to and from the airport is not included in the price. However, we would be happy to coordinate it for you. Our taxi driver charges Q375 (about $50) or we can give you directions for public transportation.  


optional weekend excursion:

Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful sites in Central America, and San Juan Comalapa is only a few hours away! Come celebrate a well-deserved vacation with a weekend at Lake Atitlan for just $250 extra to include transportation and lodging only.

or Contact Us for more information!