Dan Phillips builds homes out of recycled and reclaimed materials in Huntsville, Texas.

Why you should listen

Dan Phillips is a designer and builder in Huntsville, Texas. In 1998, he and his wife, Marsha, started The Phoenix Commotion, a construction company that builds affordable houses from reclaimed and recycled materials. Their mission is to divert landfill waste while creating sustainable housing for single mothers, artists, and families with low incomes. The Phoenix Commotion keeps labor costs low while reclaiming human potential. They use an apprentice program to teach sustainable building skills to individuals that volunteer or intern on the Phoenix Commotion Crew.

The houses are energy-efficient, cheap and satisfying to build -- and wildly, effervescently creative. To the Phillipses, any material used in enough multiples creates a beautiful pattern -- so Phoenix Commotion homes are covered and decorated with salvaged materials of many stripes. Homes are built in concert with their eventual owner, who contributes sweat equity and their own artistic flair.

What others say

“Mr. Phillips said his biggest reward was giving less-fortunate people the opportunity to own a home and watching them develop a sense of satisfaction and self-determination in the course of building it.” — New York Times

Dan Phillips’ TED talks