About Us: Smart Houses, Beautiful Homes

In our Design Work, we focus on the human spirit.  A well cared for home, where the inhabitants expect to live for many years, is one that provides delight on a daily basis.  Even though our Montana climate is rigorous,  we strive for spaces that can protect when needed, but can also open up so that the interior merges with the outdoors.  We spend a lot of time thinking about window types and placement, for views, for solar heating and so that changing light and cloud patterns become a part of the daily experience.

We think about interior spaces as a series of experiences, where views and moods compliment the activities within the house.

We treat outdoor areas as adjacent rooms, that enlarge the livable space and widen the range of daily experiences.

Our houses are very well insulated so that they are quiet. 

We suggest durable materials so that maintenance can be minimized. 


Our Consulting Services support and inform our design work.  We know, from many years of experience, that warm, quiet, efficient houses only happen when these goals are met by informed choices. 

We've watched the weather all our lives.  And watched how weather affects interior lighting and temperatures.  We track weather statistics, monitor solar and wind resources and incorporate that data into our analysis.

We've built solar collectors, greenhouses big and small, Passive Solar houses, Super insulated houses and now, take the best of those ideas to use in your project.

As we design, we run computer models that analyze annual heating requirements, evaluate building strategies and simulate interior conditions over time.

We insist on staying in touch after a project is completed to monitor performance and customer satisfaction.  We want to know if our decisions and predictions are correct so that our skills keep improving. 

Chinese style Solar Greenhouse

 Imagine, as a market gardener, growing fresh, organic food all year in Montana without any fossil fuels. Tomatoes into November and December, new greens starting in February. These off season crops offer higher profit margins because the alternative for consumers is the tired produce in the grocery stores.

The Chinese started developing solar greenhouses in the 1970's and now have over 3 million acres of them.  Their mature design grows vegetables year-round and is energy self sufficient up to the 42nd parallel.

We are currently working with a Montana market gardener to build a commercial solar greenhouse next year. Our goals are to use the Chinese model and proportions but adapt to our local materials and building practices.  We know that the building will have to perform well, but also be inexpensive enough to make the economics work.

Please call or write if you have interest in a similar project.



Jim Baerg's Biography, the short version  

  • Montana Native:  I'm from north of the hi-line, where the wind blows and the winters bring Canadian cold fronts .
  • Farm Boy (It's in the blood, I garden, talk crops and watch the sky)
  • 1st Energy Crisis Designer/Builder:  I'm experienced at building energy efficient homes.
  • Craftsman:  Historic Restoration, hi-end remodeling, furniture.
  • Educational Interlude:  BA at MSU in History & Germanics, MA from University of Wash. in Euro. Intellectual History, MArch from UW
  • City Boy:  Seattle for 12 years. Fun, but it never was home.
  • Global Warming/Energy Crisis/Financial Crisis:  We follow the issues, and are working to provide local solutions.
  • Community Activities:  Board of Directors of AERO, Food Coops, SW MT Homebuilders, MT Energy Code Proposal, Board of Directors Northern Rocky Mountain RC&D 


Biographical sketch.doc


Jim Baerg Montana Energy+Design
223 S. 5th St.
Livingston, MT 59047
406-220-1498 jlbaerg@gmail.com