Art Ludwig's Bio
Ecological systems designer and author
Art Ludwig is a top-selling author and international design consultant. Optimal, integrated design has been Art's day job since 1980. His specialty is complex, deep green, integrated "systems of systems" for water, wastewater, energy, shelter, and transportation. Building these systems involves coordinating multiple specialties as well as original innovation to fill gaps.
Art created his own program in integrated design at SBCC and UC Berkeley, and extensive independent study. His curriculum included calculus, chemistry, physics, cell biology, soil science, field botany, systems ecology, physiology, structural analysis, mechanical drafting, arc and gas welding, metalworking, business administration, marketing, and writing. As part of his self-education program, Art studied and worked in 27 different countries, and attained fluency in five languages.
At UC Berkeley, his research led to the development of the first laundry detergent biocompatible with plants and soil. He went on to found a successful manufacturing business to distribute it. Art's books Create an Oasis with Greywater and Water Storage spent decades at the top Amazon's list of best-selling plumbing books. His 500-page website, oasisdesign.net, is has original, authoritative content on a wide range of topics, from integrated design for fire safety to car-free living to understanding fecal coliform bacteria counts.
Art has developed numerous original innovations that he has published, unpatented, into the public domain for the common good. These include the Branched Drain and Laundry to Landscape greywater systems. The latter is a best practice that has propagated worldwide. More than 20 agencies in California offered rebates for this system, which also received federal job training stimulus funds.
He has worked professionally on building codes in three states. His quantitative analysis of the health risks of greywater cleared the way for more rational regulation of greywater in California, and he played a major role in the crafting of new greywater standards in 2009 and standards for monolithic adobe building in the 2021 International Residential Code. Art also spearheaded the introduction of a bill legalizing research on sustainable building in California.
In 2012, Art hosted a landmark sustainability policy colloquium that brought leaders in natural building, permaculture, and public interest activism together with heads of building and health departments. He was a keynote speaker at the California Association of Building Officials' annual conference later that year. His quantitative analysis of historical and emerging hazards attributable to the built environment helps regulators and policymakers take the dramatic rise in emerging hazards into perspective.
Art has written numerous articles and done hundreds of presentations and workshops on diverse topics, from structural engineering of natural buildings to financial management to understanding water. His consulting clients include city agencies, state governments, eco villages, retreat centers, etc. Over a nine-year period, he worked a year and a half on all aspects of sustainable development with an indigenous community in Mexico.
Art built the Oasis office by a beautiful creek in the mountains behind Santa Barbara, California. The site exemplifies Art's goal of living better with less use of resources: it utilizes about $5 a month of electricity and gas per person and 14 gallons of water a day per person indoors. Thanks to supplementation with rainwater and reused water, just 20 gallons of metered water a day for irrigation outdoors produces 150 pounds of fresh fruit per year per person, at least four different kinds any day of the year. The quarter-acre property infiltrates more water to the underlying aquifer than it consumes.
Over the past several years Art has dedicated approximately a thousand hours a year to public interest research and sustainability policy activism.
Documenting a groundbreaking, simple yet very high performance stormwater harvesting system