David Bainbridge grew up in the West, spending his formative years in northern Washington east of the Cascades in a small town working in the family toy factory and enjoying the rivers, mountains and sage covered hills. After earning a BA in Earth Sciences at UC San Diego in 1970, he moved north to UC Davis to complete a MS in Ecology in the multidisciplinary Eco-Grad Program. He completed the coursework for a PhD in Ecology, but was unable to develop a workable committee for his proposed thesis on ecological community design.
Instead he started a company doing environmental impact analysis, then transitioned to a solar research and design firm, Living Systems, where he worked on community design, passive solar heating and cooling, building codes and solar rights. He completed his first water wall solar home in the innovative Village Homes solar subdivision and helped overcome city engineering department resistance to narrow streets and above-ground drainage systems. His research on passive solar heating and cooling led him to the California Energy Commission as a solar specialist, where he earned a commendation for his work on the passive section of the state Solar Tax Credit program and work on the state Passive Solar Handbook. He served as a judge for the Federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development solar home competition. After leaving the energy commission he established the Passive Solar Institute where he continued research, education, and consulting on solar design and energy conservation. He has completed two new homes, four remodels, one straw bale building and helped his parents with a home deconstruction and rebuild. His design consulting work has ranged from homes to office buildings, a medical office, subdivisions, a new town, and many remodels.
He started work on straw bale building systems in 1985 with a consulting project for a farmer, an interest that eventually led to the completion of The Straw Bale House in 1994, with sales now over 125,000 copies. He was actively involved in straw bale building research from 1985-2001. After the collapse in energy prices dampened interest in solar energy in the early 1980s he returned to academia and worked on desert restoration at UC Riverside and San Diego State University from 1986-1995.
In 1995 he started teaching at Alliant International University, where he is now Associate Professor of Sustainable Management in the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management. His special interests include sustainability reporting, environmental economics, passive solar design and environmental restoration.