BBE Certificate in Ecological Building and Design

This online study programme covers the fundamental concepts of Ecological Building and Design.  

It is suitable as a complement to existing careers in building and design, or for those who wish to build or renovate.

The course is designed to challenge and change the way we live and work in the world and nurture a respect for living in harmony with the natural environment.  It is a New Zealand based course but it is open to students from anywhere in the world - you can apply the knowledge you learn to the regions you know best.  View the promotional video below.

Course Content

The course consists of 5 Modules, approximately 80 hours each, for a total of 400 study hours.

Module 1: Principles of Ecological Building and Design - Learn about the fundamental Principles and how to assess existing buildings for health and sustainability.

Module 2: Building and Site Design - Learn about Bio Harmonic design, permaculture and eco community options and apply them to a small design project.

Module 3: Materials and Construction - Learn to assess building materials and explore alternative options such as naturally durable timbers, earth and straw bale building.

Module 4: Energy and Renewable Energy - Learn about passive solar design, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources and design your own energy system.

Module 5: Water and Wastewater - Learn about rainwater harvesting, water conservation, compost toilets and waste water systems and design your own water system.

This Course is a tutored course, where to earn a Certificate you must complete the entire course, starting with Module 1, but after that you can choose the order of your Modules. You submit your questions and assignments for assessment to ensure your learning is of an acceptable standard. On completion of the Course you are awarded a Certificate from the Building Biology and Ecology Institute.

Students who complete the Certificate are able to cross credit with the IBE 101 - Natural, Healthy Buildings Course in the US (http://hbelc.org/courses) and continue with their training.  They will also be able to do advanced courses with the NZ BBE as they are developed.

Designed as a part time course, each of the 5  Modules can be completed in 8 weeks, amounting to about 10 hours per week of study and assignment preparation. There will be five Intakes per year, allowing you to complete the Certificate within a calendar year.

2019 Dates

Intake 1: Starts 4 February
Intake 2: Starts 8 April
Intake 3: Starts 10 June
Intake 4: Starts 12 August
Intake 5: Starts 14 October

We encourage enrolling on the specific Intake dates as it helps develop better fellow student rapport, and the chance to network with interesting people. However, if you have missed the Intake start and wish to enrol before the next one, we are happy to oblige! You can either aim to catch up or you can set your own schedule for assessment hand-in. Alternatively, you can contact us with an expression of interest for the next Intake and we can send you a reminder when it is time to enrol.


NZD $370 for Module 1, which must be enrolled in first. (This includes a website administration fee.) NZD $320 for all subsequent Modules. Otherwise enrol in all 5 Modules at the discounted price of NZD $1,500.

You may like to purchase some of the recommended textbooks.

More Information

The Course Handbook has more detailed information about the course.  If you have more questions, please contact us.

 Download Course Prospectus pdf

Enrol Now!!

To fill out your enrolment form click Here

Below are testimonials from some of our Graduates:

"I would highly recommend the BBE Online Course to anyone looking for a sustainable building course to complement their current qualification/job or special interest...I work at an Eco Centre so was keen to learn more and complete a qualification that provided me with extra knowledge I could pass on to the general public through workshops and tours. I thoroughly enjoyed studying through the BBE and found the Certificate Course easy to follow, comprehensive and interesting." Tiffany"

I am an Ecological Interior Stylist and the Course really helped me define my business. I learnt a huge amount and it helped that each project could be based on real situations. I came out of the Course with a fixed plan for my own home and garden, as well as guiding principles for my business." Janette

theory session  during "design your own eco home workshop"

theory session during "design your own eco home workshop"

MY Home - Design Your Own Eco Home Workshop

Design Your Own Eco Home Workshop is for those wanting to find out more about the latest evolution in eco building and design this is the workshop for you!  The workshop also provides a two-day space to concentrate solely on your house/project design.   Our architects and designers present up-to-date practical knowledge on building an eco home around the purest BBE principles, combined with the powerful Superhome practices and help guide you through the design process to develop a concept plan for your project.

Participating with a project, your key benefit will be taking home a concept plan of your project, including a permaculture plan of your site and incorporating some of the latest eco materials and systems.  

As well as a fantastic workshop for home owners, it is also valuable for developers, architects, designers, builders, council building inspectors, planners, real estate agents - basically anyone in the building industry.  Over the two days six intensive theory sessions are presented covering all the key current eco building concepts, principles and the BBE process around planning and designing your home.  Each theory session is followed by a design session focused on the theory just taught.  Your design is progressed during these design sessions. – at the end of the workshop you get to take away a concept floor plan for your new home.   

This workshop will present inspirational and practical information about healthier, happier and more sustainable building.  You will learn about what is involved in designing an Eco Home and venture in the process involved in building one.  Close interaction with experienced designers will help you to develop ideas for your own home and by the end of the workshop,  each participant who enrolled with a project, will have a conceptual plan of their project.

The workshop comprises 6 Theory sessions and 6 Design sessions.  Each theory session is followed by a focused Design session based on the theory of the previous session.  For example Session 2 teaches permaculture and site planning with the Design session focusing on developing the site and permaculture plan.   

Theory Sessions: 

  • Introduction, BBE History, principles, concepts and design approach

  • Permaculture and site planning

  • Passive and active solar energy design

  • Materials - straw bale, earth building, hemp and more

  • Electrical wiring and electro-pollution minimisation

  • Plumbing for rain water harvesting and compost toilets

  • Sunday afternoon closes with a summary and participant presentations of design projects

Pre-workshop Site Visit

For those with projects a 1 hour site visit is recommended for the workshop leader to become familiar with the micro climate and site features.  Research into local planning rules, annual rainfall, solar radiation and wind zones is also undertaken.  This will be at an additional cost.

Click here for more information

ECO Matters Project Developed during the workshop:

Those attending the workshop usually have the goal of working on their house.  Over the years larger public and more human interest projects have been designed over the 2 day workshop as well.  These have included a Marae,  an eco village of 30 or so houses, a birthing centre, an aged care facility to name a few.   Another is shared in this video which records the focused design process around the planned additions to the "Eco Matters" Environmental hub .  They had the objective of adding a large addition to the existing building.  As usual, Alex Greig, Architect, facilitated the workshop and a powerful  synergy took place between the workshop tutors and the participants leading to a wonderful final concept design for the project.

Wanganui timbercrete house:  designed by alex greig

Wanganui timbercrete house: designed by alex greig

Eco Building Workshop

This one day workshop is for professional builders, helping you to:

  • Gain a deeper working knowledge of healthier and more sustainable building

  • Move towards creating a distinctive point of difference for your company

  • Help meet a growing demand!

The workshop includes intensive theory sessions on aspects of eco building and a session working on "greening" a current or future project.


This workshop is generally run on a Saturday, but another day can be arranged to suit a group.

  • Sustainable Design

  • Building Systems and Materials

  • Energy

  • Water and Waste

  • Practical Project

More Information
Upcoming workshop dates, locations and costs, register your interest.