My passion and commitment for eco-sensible design comes from a very
practical outlook. Why wouldn't we design buildings that use the least
energy possible? Why wouldn't we build using non-toxic materials?
Why not mimic nature instead of trying to overcome its power? These
things just make sense to me.
I started my design business in 1998 to provide exactly this type of
pragmatic sustainable design to the Mid-Atlantic region. Since then,
I've designed over 3 dozen, code-compliant, natural buildings.
I operate on both sides of my brain, thriving equally on analytical
problem-solving and creative tactile expression. I structured my
business to allow me to engage both sides...every day.
I believe education is the key
to positive change.
Knowledge empowers us. Deep understanding
helps us make informed decisions and explore
new skills. That's why I continue my own
education and it's why I teach.
I educate my clients on how to be super-savvy
consumers for everything from sustainable
flooring to energy efficient appliances. And I
many natural building techniques.
As M. Gandhi said, "be the change you wish to
see in the world..."
I started my design firm to help
people fulfill their vision of living
in a durable, natural home.
When it comes right down to it, I'm super practical.
That's why I exclusively design homes that are super
energy efficient, using natural non-toxic materials,
and are compliant with all building codes.
If it's possible to design a building to use less energy,
why wouldn't you? If there's a choice to use non-
toxic local materials, why wouldn't you choose
them? This is just what makes the most sense to
I love analytical problem solving AND I love
creative, tactile expression. I fully engage in both.
Which is why I structured my business in 1998 to
provide design services as well as hands-on learning.
Sigi Koko is the principal designer of Down to Earth Design, which she founded in 1998 to help her clients manifest their dreams
of living in a natural, healthy home. She works exclusively on projects that are natural, energy-efficient buildings, on the
forefront of sustainable design. Every project functions in synchronicity with its environment, relating to seasonal cycles of sun,
wind, and rain to provide natural heating and cooling primarily from passive (free!) sources. Her clients enjoy an average 50%
reduction in total energy usage compared to conventional buildings. She uses a palette of building materials that ensure healthy
indoor space and minimal environmental impact.
Sigi translates each client's vision into a unique design that reflects their personality and lifestyle, while responding to the
surrounding landscape and climate. Sigi's uniquely collaborate design process provides a high level of information and support
that encourages her clients to engage fully throughout design and construction. She also teaches natural building workshops
that empower her clients to contribute creatively during the construction of their own home.
Sigi Koko holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she learned fundamental design
skills. After earning her degree, she spent two years building homes to learn the practical side of how buildings are constructed.
This in-the-field experience helps her communicate well with builders. She spent two years completing her architectural
internship for HOK (Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum) in Washington, DC, where she provided "green building" expertise on
many projects. She also created their Healthy & Sustainable Product Database" and contributed to several HOK publications,
including the document now published as The HOK Guidebook to Sustainable Design (published by Wiley & Sons). Her
experience at HOK gave her the opportunity to explore extensive green building research and taught her how to create highly
detailed drawings and documentation.
and West Virginia. All projects have received standard building permits. She has worked with building officials statewide in
Maryland to gain approval for strawbale construction and rubble trench foundations. Her projects have been mentioned in the
New York Times, featured on HGTV, and she has been featured in numerous print articles, including the Washington Post, the
Baltimore Sun, and Progressive Engineer.
Sigi Koko is nationally known for her expertise in sustainable design and natural building, she has lectured extensively on these
topics, and has written articles for numerous publications. Publications include Interior Graphic Standards Chapter on Green
Building Materials, "Five Steps to Keeping Strawbale Walls Dry" article in The Last Straw Journal, and "Rubble Trench
Foundations - a Brief Overview" article in Building Safety Journal magazine.
I pursued architecture thanks to
a photo I saw as a child.
The photo showed the tower of a building designed
by Antoni Gaudi. I saw such beauty in that tower, it
brought me to tears. Tears!! That was my first
experience that a building could evoke emotion...and
I was hooked.
I love both creative expression and analytical problem-solving,
which led me to an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts with a
minor in Math (and more engineering classes than I care to
admit to). From there I pursued a Masters in Architecture
from The University of Texas in Austin. And I find that I apply
everything I studied...from sociology to sculpture to structural
After graduate school, I built houses for two years...and I mean,
full on hammer-and-nails construction. I wanted to
understand what it takes to build a house. That experience
now helps me communicate well with contractors.
And I really really love getting in to my work!!
I finally got to visit the buildings that lit my passion for architecture!
I love teaching one-on-one...working with each person til they really get it!
sometimes the best meetings happen right where we intend to build