About CalEarth

Mission Statement:

Cal-Earth, the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to providing solutions to the human need for shelter through research, development, and education in earth architecture. We envision a world in which every person is empowered to build a safe and sustainable home with their own hands, using the earth under their feet.

The global housing shortage currently includes some 20-40 million refugees and displaced persons, and hundreds of millions more who live in substandard or slum housing. With compounding environmental challenges and the acceleration of natural and man-made disasters, this shortage will only become more severe in the coming decades.

To meet this pressing need, Cal-Earth develops and educates the public in self-help, environmentally sustainable building designs. Houses anyone can build with their own two hands, using locally available earth, sandbags and barbed wire, that meet modern-day standards for safety, beauty, energy efficiency, and comfort. 

Cal-Earth’s designs have been studied by NASA, endorsed and used by the United Nations, featured in countless world media outlets, and awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Our Superadobe building system (U.S. Patent #5,934,027) integrates traditional earth architecture with contemporary global safety requirements, and has passed severe earthquake code tests in California. 

Based in Hesperia, California, Cal-Earth trains hundreds of people each year through on-site, international, and web-based educational programs. Our alumni have helped share earth building with communities in over 40 countries across the globe, and our workshops have been held on five continents. Youth programs at Cal-Earth foster respect for the environment and an awareness of sustainability practices. 

In all that we do, we strive to honor our late founder Nader Khalili’s vision of an architecture based on the natural elements of earth, water, air, and fire, and their unity at the service of humanity and to continue his mission to provide shelter for the world’s homeless and displaced persons, empower people to participate in the creation of their own homes and communities, and help preserve the planet that we all share.

Our Founder

Nader Khalili

Nader Khalili (1936-2008) was a visionary architect, author, humanitarian, teacher, and innovator. Inspired by the poetry of Rumi, he was a quiet hero who never forgot the importance of living an honest, meaningful life. “No one can prove there is a meaning to life. I must make my own life meaningful. That is all.”