Marc, today's charrette was terrific. Thank you for your truly generous collaboration. You've caused me to turn a mental corner. Until recently, I thought that that to do really intelligent buildings, we'd need the right clients, the right engineers, and a premium budget. Thanks to you, I now believe that to do intelligent buildings all we need is INTELLIGENCE!—and the guts to ask the simple questions until we get the answers, and the courage of our convictions to persuade others...

We can do this and it will change things. You've empowered us. Thanks. –Ellen

History of Energysmiths

Energysmiths was founded in 1979 by Marc Rosenbaum and Daniel Ingold.  It was originally set up as a not-for-profit organization in order to make it possible to receive research grants.  Dan and Marc spent several months chasing a couple of grants from the National Center for Appropriate Technology in 1979.  After a significant amount of effort and tailoring their proposals according to program staff input, they were not funded.  This led Dan to seek other career paths, and Marc changed Energysmiths (the name was Dan’s great idea and it stuck) to a for-profit sole proprietorship.

In 1978, Marc bought a piece of woodland in Meriden, NH, and began to build a small house.  This took more than the typical amount of naïve self-confidence, as he had never built anything before.  The house was on posts on its sloping site to minimize site impact and save money.  The envelope was superinsulated before the word was coined.  This came about because the house was to be wood heated and Marc worked backward from an annual fuel usage of 1 cord of wood to choose his insulation levels.  Other features of the home included: homemade high R value windows; passive solar and passive wood-fired domestic hot water; solar greenhouse; local, healthy materials; and an air-to-air heat exchanger.  In the mid-1980s he designed and built a second, more advanced home (Nerdwood), that has continued to be an experiential laboratory for his hands-on learning.

This project led to other people asking if Marc could help them design homes with a similar environmental focus.  By the early 1990s, he had designed over twenty environmentally friendly homes, as well as numerous additions and solar greenhouses.  In 1991, with NESEA colleagues John Abrams of South Mountain Company and Bruce Coldham of Bruce Coldham Architects, Marc formed ARC Design Group to bring the same integrated environmental design attributes to non-residential buildings.  ARC’s first project was a new Tribal Headquarters for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah.  Subsequently, ARC designed corporate offices for Stonyfield Farm and led NESEA in its search for a new home, the Northeast Sustainability Center. 

This work in larger buildings coincided with a new wave of environmental consciousness around buildings and communities.  Marc was increasingly sought after as a consultant bringing an integrated systems approach to the design of buildings and communities.  Also at this time, the cohousing movement was just beginning in the US and Marc helped Bruce Coldham with his pioneering publication Northeast Cohousing Quarterly, and worked with the early cohousing communities to help them achieve their environmental goals.  The Hanover House, designed in the early 1990s, achieved a new level in low energy environmentally friendly homes, and was the last home Marc designed, as the environmental design consulting work took off. 

While focused on being an active practitioner in the field, Marc has been active in sharing his experience in numerous workshops and trainings, as well as at conferences and for various magazines.  Thousands of architects, engineers, builders, homeowners, students, government and utility employees have benefited from his practical experience and insightful understanding of the field of environmental design.

Today his consulting practice has expanded into the areas of helping organizations build consensus around their environmental building project goals and desired outcomes.  He helps people select the members of the design and construction team that will work with them to achieve their vision.  Projects range from single family homes to 100 million dollar projects, but the commitment to healthy buildings, healthy people, and a healthy planet remains consistent.