German Building Biologist in the US – Leaves Lasting Impression
Helmut Ziehe is the Building Biologist who brought Building Biology to the United States. Helmut learned Bau-Biologie in Germany from the “mothership.” In Germany he was trained as an environmentally-conscious architect at the Technical University of Berlin, followed by a Master’s Degree from the London School of Architecture. Helmut mastered 5 languages during his life and was always thirsty for knowledge.
Helmut learned the 25 Principles of Building Biology directly from Dr. Anton Schneider at the Institut Fur Baubiologie & Oekologei. Once exposed to Building Biology he never looked back! In the mid-80s, with permission from the mothership, Helmut translated the original Building Biology textbooks from German to English, and moved to the United States to found the US-based, not-for-profit, International Institute for Building Biology & Ecology.
Some of the early adopters and students who learned directly from Helmut are now internationally recognized environmental consultants… and all share that same passion for learning and creating health-supporting structures. Building Biology, at its core, is all about creating healthy buildings. Here are a few early Building Biology students who had the privilege of learning directly from Helmut Ziehe. This is an abbreviated list of ten, but these folks are still practicing Building Biologists in the US:
- Larry Gust, Gust Environmental
- Martine Davis, Indoor Environmental Testing, Inc.
- Mary Cordaro, Mary Cordaro, Inc.
- Paula Baker-Laporte, (formerly) EcoNest Architecture Inc.
- Peter Sierck, ET&T Indoor Environmental Surveys
- Robert Stellar, Breathing Easy
- Ron & Lisa Beres, Green Nest LLC
- Sal La Duca, Environmental Assay, Inc.
- Spark Burmaster, Environmental Options
- Will Spates, Indoor Environmental Technologies
I saw Helmut at the 2012 Healthy Bodies, Healthy Buildings (Building Biology) conference in Washington, DC. Everyone there paid tribute to Helmut’s contributions, and a movie about his life was premiered to his great delight! Please check out this U-tube trailer for “The Visionary Life of Helmut Ziehe.” Everyone present recognized that without Helmut’s pioneering spirit, commitment, and drive… Building Biology may never have made it to the US… and this amazing group of people may never have shared this common bond.
He personally signed a print of an early painting from his time in Greece – which happened to be the original logo for the Institute for Building Building in the US. Earlier this month I hung that print in our new office.
To my knowledge, Helmut was the first Building Biologist in the US. He was a pioneer. He was a teacher. He was a steward of the Earth. He always met you with a smile, and wasn’t afraid of big challenges or standing up for what he believed in.
On January 17th, 2013, Helmut passed away and was survived by his wife, Susannah, and son, Nick. The entire community of Building Biologists around the world mourn his passing… more than anything we are grateful for his life and enormous contributions to the world… his memory is an inspiration.
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