Archive for the ‘Newsletters’ Category

TEG Newsletter – Issue #7

Earth USA 2019 – Biggest Summit So Far

Earth USA 2019 took place from Friday, October 25 to Sunday, October 27, 2019 at the Scottish Rite Center’s Alhambra Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was the 10th International Conference on Architecture & Construction with Earthen Materials organized by Adobe in Action. More than 150 earthbuilding enthusiasts attended the conference to view 32 podium presentations, 20 poster presentations and 2 demonstration sessions. Presenters converged on Santa Fe from around the world – including countries such as Canada, China, Japan, the UK, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, India, Egypt, Chile, Rwanda, Bangladesh and Norway. The USA also had strong representation with presenters and attendees from New Mexico, Colorado, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah. Prof. Ronald Rael (UC Berkeley Acting Chair of Architecture; Professor of Architecture, Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture) dazzled us all with his keynote presentation entitled “Mud Frontiers: Notes from the Borderlands”. The 2019 Fred Webster Earthbuilding Engineering Prize was awarded to the presentation “From ‘Why to do’ to ‘How to do’: Research and Practice in Rammed-earth Architecture in China” by the authors Prof. Jun Mu, Tiegang Zhou and Wei Jiang from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, China.

Full details about past, present and future conferences can be found at www.earthusa.org. Join us in two years for Earth USA 2021!

Kurt Gardella – Adobe in Action

Results from Las Vegas ICC Public Comment Code Hearings…and What’s Next

Two earthen-building code proposals were recently heard in Las Vegas at the triennial ICC code hearings – the Cob Research Institute’s [https://www.cobcode.org/] Cob Construction (Monolithic Adobe) Appendix [https://tinyurl.com/yyh4fjpk] to the International Residential Code (IRC), and The Earthbuilders’ Guild’s proposal [link] to reform the Portland cement stucco requirements and allow other plaster types, in the International Building Code (IBC). 
Both proposals received overwhelming support from ICC voting members at the hearings, and are next subject to an online vote by building and fire officials for inclusion in the 2021 IRC and IBC. If successful, these proposals will be significant landmarks in the regulation of earthen building in the United States. The IRC and IBC are model building codes used by almost every State and local jurisdiction in the U.S.
For cob, currently no guidance exists on how to properly design and build these structures, sometimes leading to unpermitted work and dangerous buildings, particularly in high-seismic areas. As an earthen wall system, cob provides a useful fire-safe option for communities in western States vulnerable to the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires.
For adobe, the code currently offers no guidance on minimum vapor permeability of their finishes, and actually mandates the use of low-permeability cement stuccos for unstabilized adobe bricks. This is forcing designers and builders to build in a manner which has been known for decades to be poor practice, sometimes causing plaster delamination or spalling, and in some cases structural failure.
The success of these proposals depends on support from building officials – please contact your chief building official and urge their vote to approve proposals RB299 [https://tinyurl.com/yyh4fjpk] and S156 [link] during online voting (approx. Nov 14-27). CRI is conducting a campaign to locate and inform these officials about RB299 and the cob proposal: https://tinyurl.com/yydh88ly. This information is also applicable to S156 and the adobe proposal.
[Caption: CRI civil engineer Anthony Dente testifies at ICC Public Comment Hearings on Oct 26″ 
 
The New Zealand Earthbuilding Standards Need Your Support (Ben Loescher)
Although not well known in the United States, the New Zealand Earth Building Standards are known internationally as among the best informed and easiest to use earthen building codes in the world. However, due to funding diversions by the New Zealand government, these codes are under threat. The Earth Building Association of New Zealand (EBANZ) has launched a fundraising campaign to raise the remaining $60,000 NZD required to complete revision of the codes so that they may remain available to domestic and international users. Donations may be made directly to EBANZ here [https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/we-need-your-help-to-keep-nz-earth-building-safe]. Additional information is available at the Earth Building Association of New Zealand website [https://www.earthbuilding.org.nz/help-ebanz-save-our-standards/]
 
Ben Loescher & Martin Hammer

Update from Colorado Earth – New Build in Buena Vista, Colorado

Colorado Earth designed and supplied compressed earth blocks to a new home in Buena Vista, Colorado.  We continue to work with masons from various regions on how to build with earth.  It’s always a joy to see walls go up and eyes of anticipation on the home owner.  I want to thank everyone who came to Earth USA and supported each other in our efforts.   

Lisa Morey

SCEB Research at Sandia National Laboratories (cont.)

Since my last report in May 2019, we have commenced on the project to build a test wall with the epoxy bonding material and have made some excellent progress.  The end of the project is the end of the month of November, so the culmination of this project is the actual construction and subsequent destruction of the wall, with the test consisting of the measurements of the forces necessary to do this. 
As the images show, the wall was built using Paverde manufactured SCEB units, sized at 12”x4”x8”.  The 8” dimension is approximate as this is the variable dimension in our block press.  We allow this dimension to fluctuate since we stop the press cycle once target pressure has been reached instead of stopping to a set size, which would create blocks of variable density.  The 4” height does not vary, which allows for the very thin horizontal joints as shown.  The bonding material is currently a bit lower in viscosity than we would like, but there were some unexpected challenges during this test which led us to us this mix.  The ultimate bonding strength is not affected by the initial viscosity, so we proceeded and simply ensured that we had a full laydown of the material and let the excess adhesive flow out of the joints, which are set at 1/8” by using standard tile spacers.  The procedure was to push the block down until it reached the tile spacers which pushed out any excess adhesive.  The actual bonded wall dimension is 3’x3’x1’, with the floating ends of the blocks simply being outside of the tested area.
There were 4 PhD. engineers/scientists working on this test, including Dr. Mathew Ingraham, a geomechanical engineer, shown in the image laying down the adhesive.  The Principal Investigator, Dr. Darin Leonhardt, a systems engineer, remarked that since no one who was working on this had built a wall before using blocks of any type, that this may have been the most improbably unskilled labor force to ever do this.  They did figure it out though, and we were entirely fortunate to be there for it and to observe these extraordinarily capable people figure out things that were extraordinarily challenging.  Dr. Mat Celina, a materials scientist, was able to alter the primary mix on the fly to accommodate the need to change the viscosity along with the set time and filler ingredients to get the adhesive to set (no longer flow) in about 3.5 minutes and start to fully harden in about 7-8 minutes.  Full cure will take a bit longer, but with the spacers in place there was no worry about crush down squeezing the lower course adhesive out before full set. 
The test will consist of applying sufficient force to shear break the wall, with the hoped for results showing that the bonded wall system nears the strength of the individual blocks in regards to shear strength.  This is important since this will be a major breakthrough in the ability of earthen walls to be quickly constructed yet still have strength enough to meet rigorous strength requirement.  We are also hoping for an indication that there is some amount of elastic, or at least plastic, yield prior to full destruction of the wall. 
At the time of this report, the actual tests have not been carried out, as they are scheduled for the 6th of November.  I will give a synopsis of the results in my next installment report.

John Jordan

TEG Tour – September 2019

The Earthbuilders’ Guild was privileged to tour an adobe home in Albuquerque built by TEG member Matteo Pacheco.  Affectionally known as the Lizard House, the details throughout the home were extraordinary.   Beams, vigas, adobe wall details, extraordinary tile work and the feel of those adobe walls made this TEG Tour a truly enjoyable experience.  Visit TEG’s Facebook page to see more photographs.  https://www.facebook.com/theearthbuildersguild/   Tours are usually scheduled every other month the same day as our Board Meetings.  Check our website www.theearthbuildersguild.com for details on our next tour or event.  We’ll be in Albuquerque, New Mexico in January. 

Pat Martinez Rutherford

TEG Honorary Membership Nominations

The Board of Directors is accepting nominations for Honorary Lifetime Membership in TEG.

Below is the Criteria.  Deadline for nominations is March 1, 2020.
Email your nomination to theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com
Honorary Lifetime Membership Criteria
One Honorary Lifetime Membership may be awarded to a member of the earthbuilding industry annually, with a two-thirds majority approval of the Board of Directors. Nominees should be submitted in writing to the Board by any member(s) in good standing, with a description as to why the nominee should receive this recognition, along with the material to substantiate the reasoning. The nominee should be of good character, meet TEG’s ethical standards and must meet at least two of the three criteria listed below for consideration. Submissions must be received by March 1st of 2020; the Board will announce its decision by the end March.
Advancement of Earthen Construction
• Research related to better understanding of earthen materials
• Development of earthen material technology
• Advancement in earthen engineering
Service to the Community
• Education
• Increase in public awareness and recognition of earthen construction
• Charitable and social benefit work
Service to the Trade and Organization
• Contribution to TEG as an organization
• Work enabling and serving earthen tradespeople and professionals

TEG Members are welcome to send in articles for our next newsletter.  Please contact Pat at theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com for more information.

Education in Earthbuilding

Are you interested in expanding your understanding and knowledge of building with earth?

Perhaps looking for volunteer opportunities?

Take a look on our website under the Members’ tab or on the Directory for more information on who, what, when and where!

And keep an eye on the TEG blog for additional classes and projects going on in the earth-building world.

TEG Newsletter – Issue #6

TEG Tour – July 20, 2019   Taos, New Mexico

This summer’s TEG Tour was held in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in Taos, New Mexico.  We visited the Fechin House which is home to the Taos Art Museum. 
 
The Nicolai Fechin House is the historic home of the Russian artist Nicolai Fechin, his wife Alexandra and daughter Eya. After purchasing the house in 1928, he spent several years enlarging and modifying the two-story adobe structure, for instance, enlarging the porch and adding and widening windows to take advantage of the views. He carved many of the fittings of the house and its furniture, using typical Russian design elements such as “triptych windows and intricately carved doors.” The whole reflects a modernist sensibility combined with Russian, Native American and Spanish traditions.
 
The group was treated to a personal tour with stories of Nicolai, the artist, wood worker and builder.  His work through-out the home gave us a taste of the talented man that he was.  

Article by Pat Martinez Rutherford

Earth USA 2019 is 3 months away!

Preparations are in full swing for Earth USA 2019 – The 10th International Conference on Earthen Architecture & Construction – which is taking place at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe, NM from October 25 to 27, 2019. More than 50 presenters from around the world and the USA will be speaking about the current state of designing and building with earth. The Earth USA 2019 keynote speaker is Ronald Rael – Acting Chair of Architecture; Professor of Architecture, Eva Li Memorial Chair in Architecture at UC Berkeley. The conference also includes a full-day bus tour on Monday, October 28 which will makes stops at new construction and adobe renovation sites in and around Santa Fe.

Current conference sponsors include San Luis Valley Habitat for Humanity, Loescher Meachem Architects, Cornerstones Community Partnerships, C.C. Culver, The Earthbuilders’ Guild, Pat Taylor Inc, and The Earthen Construction Initiative. Adobe in Action (the conference organizer) is an AIA Continuing Education Provider. 24 AIA/CES credits (LU|HSW) are available for the conference. Full details about the conference can be found at https://www.earthusa.org/. Online registration can be completed at https://earthusa.bigcartel.com/.

Article by Kurt Gardella

CRI’s Cob Code is Underway!

The Cob Research Institute (CRI) has submitted a proposed Cob Construction (Monolithic Adobe) Appendix for the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC). If approved as an IRC Appendix this new cob building code will become available for adoption by jurisdictions throughout the US as well as other countries.  The proposed appendix was written by architect & code author Martin Hammer and civil engineer Anthony Dente, with input from many other knowledgeable contributors. 

The first proposal was not approved at the  May 2019 IRC Hearings primarily due to the lack of an ASTM E119 test to justify a very conservative 1-hour fire-resistance rating for cob walls. This was unexpected since anyone experienced with earthen building knows that earth walls are highly fire resistant and do not burn.The code proposal now has another opportunity for approval by voting ICC members (mostly building and fire officials) at the ICC Public Comment hearings in October. TEG members can help ensure approval by contacting local Building or Fire Officials and encouraging them to vote for approval of the proposed appendix at the hearings in Las Vegas or during the online voting in early November. The full proposed appendix with its public comment revisions can be seen on the CRI website at :  https://cobcode.s3.amazonaws.com/RB299-19_ProposedAppendixU_CobConstruction_PublicComment.pdf
 
Developing, writing and submitting the code proposal has been an expensive project for CRI. We need to raise $50,000 to fund the necessary testing, research, code writing, and attending hearings. Our funding campaign to date has raised $11,500 and the TEG Board recently and generously donated an additional $1,000 for which we are grateful. But we still have a long way to go and are asking for your support in this vital work. Cob and other noncombustible earthen building systems are especially important now, as a choice for the many regions and communities in the U.S. faced with increased frequency and intensity of wildfires.
 
You can learn more about CRI and its code proposal and can donate on our website www.cobcode.org. All contributions, large and small, make a difference. When you visit there we invite you to go to the contact page and subscribe to CRI’s newsletter The Cob Report for up-to-date news about CRI.
 
We at CRI hope you can come join in the CRI cob code effort!

Article by John Fordice

Earthen Finishes Code Update

Every three years, the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) are considered for revision in a series of hearings. At its Committee Action Hearings held this April in Albuquerque, the IBC tentatively approved proposals advanced by TEG members to add lime plasters, cement-lime plasters, and clay plasters into the 2022 IBC.
 
TEG is advancing an additional proposal that will improve the cement plaster provisions of the code, and add provisions that address minimum vapor permeability for earthen walls which is known to be critical to ensuring the longevity of earthen construction. This proposal will be heard in the Public Comment Hearings in October where it will be voted on by an assembly made up of national code officials.
 
There is still some work ahead of us. In 2022 the portions of the code that govern the structural design of adobe buildings are expected to be retired. TEG will be focusing its attention to ensure that adequate guidance for the design of earthen structures remains in the building code. 

Article by Ben Loescher

Update from Colorado Earth

Colorado Earth is excited to share some preliminary results from the data on our current Energy Performance Research. Here in Colorado, we had a long winter (our last snow was in June), followed by a hot summer (temperatures well over 100 F). The home owners have not turned on any mechanical cooling device this summer, and the internal temperatures remain steady at around 68 F (some say that’s too cool!). The winter results are also very intriguing, as Colorado has huge temperature swings, yet the walls buffer the outside extremes and stay comfortable throughout the day. We are still seeking funds to carry out this important work for earthen construction!  Check out our GoFundMe page!

Article by Lisa Morey (formerly Schroder)

Welcome Vista Grande High School

Newest member of The Earthbuilders’ Guild is Vista Grande High School in Taos, New Mexico.  Representing Vista Grande is Keaton Karvas.  Keaton is the shop teacher at Vista.  This spring he offered an adobe class and nine students participated.  Four of those students are working on a Fundamental of Adobe certificate from TEG this Fall.  TEG member, Quentin Wilson, is participating in the training and hands on work of the students.  “Nobody is doing this at the high school level in this whole country,” said Quentin.  The future of adobe is bright for Vista students.  

Article by Pat Martinez Rutherford

More Adobe in Iceland

I attended a series of lectures and discussion groups on sustainable architecture in Reykjavik, Iceland. The lectures were organized by Miðgarður (http://midgardur.billaus.is/) as part of Design March (https://designmarch.is/). Miðgarður is a building association that plans to build dense, green, low-rise neighborhoods which are centrally located and have a low priority for vehicles. I gave Miðgarður my input on the possibility of incorporating earth as a building material into their projects. In a follow up meeting with Miðgarður we conducted soil tests on locally-sourced clay and aggregates. The soil tests were successful and I see a real possibility of incorporating earth as a building material into their projects. One idea is to use earthen blocks for walls which separate adjoining apartments to enhance soundproofing. A thermal wall heating system finished with earthen plaster (http://wall-heating.com/) could easily be incorporated into these earthen walls to tap into Reykjavík’s geothermal heating reserves (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power_in_Iceland). Further blockmaking tests will be conducted over the summer.

Article by Kurt Gardella

Celebrating Life of Bill Powell 

William “Bill” Powell, earthen believer, block press maker, and devoted father and husband, passed away suddenly on July 30th.  He was many things to many people, but the thing he always was, to all the people, was a loving and honest friend, full of wisdom and sly humor, and he always delivered all of it with a true and warm smile. 

I can say with certainty that he affected my life in wonderful and beneficial ways that will stay with me for the remainder of my days.  He was my mentor and, truth be told, as much a father figure to me as my own Dad who passed away many, many years ago.  I loved him though for who he was, someone that I, and countless others, could rely on through thick and thin. 

Bill was 85 years old, still going about his daily chores, still the father and husband he had been for so many years, and still full of joy and wonder at each and every day.  Whenever I called him and asked how he was doing, he would faithfully say “if I was any better I’d think that I’d died and gone to heaven”.  I believed him then and I believe him now.

Bill spent most of his life being a mechanical visionary.  He was instrumental in bringing horizontal press CEB machines into the current mix of earthen technologies, working on them and perfecting the methods of their manufacturing as well as their operating performance.  He had a vision of CEB machines being the pathway to a broad and deep acceptance of earthen materials for construction of human habitations, not to replace adobe or rammed earth, but to add to these venerable materials in the construction arena.  As a newcomer to CEB machinery, having come from a computing background, I was astonished to see that his electrical control switches were the embodiment of a “state machine”, essentially a step-wise decision computer, minus the electronic parts!  He had figured out how to step through the multiple operational steps of a block press, and using relay and proximity switches, had coupled that to the hydraulic system to ensure a rapid, consistent, and reliable means of producing CEBs.  His ability to master the machinery while still understanding that the feel of the dirt in his hand was the most beneficial thing he passed along to me, and to so many others.  The impact he has had on the CEB domain will be felt for many, many years to come, but his truest legacy will be the way that he tutored, assisted, and nurtured those who also believe in earthen.
 
Bill Powell loved training and teaching folks in the earthen technology arts and science.  His son Dan carries on the tradition of machine manufacturing as EarthTEK.

Condolences can be sent to “Powell Family, 311 NM-4, San Ysidro, NM 87053. 

Article by John Jordan

 

TEG Members are welcome to send in articles for our next newsletter.  Please contact Pat at theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com for more information.

Education in Earthbuilding

Are you interested in expanding your understanding and knowledge of building with earth?

Perhaps looking for volunteer opportunities?

Take a look on our website under the Members’ tab or on the Directory for more information on who, what, when and where!

And keep an eye on the TEG blog for additional classes and projects going on in the earth-building world.

TEG Newsletter – Issue #5

 TEG 2019 Honorary Lifetime Member  – Jake Barrow 

Jake Barrow, Executive Director of Cornerstones, has been awarded TEG’s Honorary Lifetime Member for 2019.  The award honors his dedication to the preservation of our historic buildings, his significant contributions to the advancement of earthen construction, his service to the community, to the trade and to our organization, The Earthbuilders’ Guild takes great pleasure in awarding Jake our 2019 Lifetime Honorary Membership.

This award is given annually to a person who has shown, above all others, a majority of the following qualifications:

Advancement of Earthen Construction

  • Research related to better understanding of earthen materials
  • Development of earthen material technology
  • Advancement in earthen engineering

Service to the Community

  • Education
  • Increase in public awareness and recognition of earthen construction
  • Charitable and social benefit work

Service to the Trade and Organization

  • Contribution to TEG as an organization
  • Work enabling and serving earthen tradespeople and professionals

Among many other contributions he has spearheaded major adobe conservation projects in New Mexico, Arizona and California, and continue with Cornerstones Community Partnerships working to preserve historic buildings throughout the Southwest. He collaborated successfully with TEG in developing a training and certification program in adobe construction, and through offering volunteer and intern opportunities has show great patience and perseverance in training the next generation of earthen builders.

TEG is honored to have the opportunity to acknowledge Jake Barrows’ achievements and to show him our appreciation in the form of this award,

The Earthbuilders’ Guild Honorary Lifetime Membership.

TEG Board Members

Adobe Proficiency Exam    

The deadline is fast approaching to submit your application for the May 17-18 Basic Adobe Certification exam.  May 6 was the last day applications will be accepted for this round.  Don’t worry if you missed this one; There will be another opportunity in the Fall.

More information on the exam requirements and study resources can be found on the Earthbuilders’ Guild website: https://theearthbuildersguild.com/teg-basic-adobe-proficiency-certification/

This certification is a voluntary program providing recognition of an individual’s professional knowledge through a process of examination and review of experience and educational qualifications by adobe construction professionals.

Recognition is given by the Earthbuilders’ Guild to those who (1) meet the eligibility requirements for admission to the examination as set forth in the application, (2) successfully complete the examination.

The objectives of the Basic Adobe Proficiency Certification Program are:

  • to encourage the development of adobe construction professionals.
  • to recognize adobe builders’ competency at the basic professional level and create incentives for these individuals to continue their professional development.
  • to provide the public and those in government with a means to identify adobe builders who demonstrate, through a professionally developed exam and education program, that they have a thorough knowledge of safe, code-compliant adobe construction.
     

The benefits of the Basic Adobe Proficiency Certification Program include:

  • Certification builds an individual’s self-image. By studying for and passing the exam, you will reaffirm to yourself and your peers a thorough knowledge of and dedication to adobe building.
  • Certification affords the public and those in government the opportunity to make an informed selection of services based on the knowledge that is represented by the certification designation.
  • The process of becoming TEG-certified and maintaining certification provides incentives for adobe builders to continue ongoing professional development.
  • Certification is a tool to help employers, both in training their personnel and in selecting you as a new employee.
  • When you successfully pass the exam you are given a wallet-sized card to demonstrate your Certification, and you will be listed on the TEG website as one among the select few specializing and skilled in adobe construction.
     

Helen Levine

San Diego County Adobe Tour 

TEG’s chair and secretary of the Board attended the 8th Annual San Diego Adobe Home Tour on March 24, 2019.  Ben Loescher, Pat Rutherford, and TEG member Wayne Rutherford were in the San Diego area to tour five private homes as well as the St. Francis Episcopal Church, the Mission San Diego de Pala, and the Pauma Valley Country Club, all adobe buildings.  The San Diego Adobe Heritage Association, whose mission is to inspire the appreciation and understanding of adobe heritage in San Diego County, organized and presented this annual event.  For further information and photographs visit their website:  www.adobehometour.com

Our congratulations on a well-run, organized event. 

Pat Rutherford

SCEB Research in Sandia National Laboratories (continued) 

The saga of the SCEB research at Sandia National Labs will be continuing!  We formed a group of companies, the very same ones that started this project in early 2018, and petitioned the SBA for another round of research funding based on the results of the 2018 testing.  While we believed that there would be some reservations from the SBA assessment panel regarding the continued funding without strong subsequent commercial results on our part, our fears were not realized.  We put forward a strong case that the results of the 2018 testing demonstrated that our technology is valid and that there is mounting evidence that this could be a game changing approach for this type of earthen construction. 

We basically asked for the maximum amount that was available given the makeup of our business group, $60,000 to be specific.  Our presentation focused on the need to take the previous results and use them as the foundational data to push forward with testing the bonded SCEBs in a larger, more representative manner.  We are going to use ASTM and ASME criteria and methodologies to conduct the testing and the results should be, if successful in the testing, able to pass the validation reviews that will lead to accreditation of our methods.  We are also going to focus on the operational aspect of the bonding material regarding its viscosity, spreadability, and final set time.  To that end we will continue to conduct small scale tests prior to the final larger scale tests.   Relaying this to the assessment panel along with some of our projected economic impacts of this testing won the day, and we were awarded the maximum amount, with testing to commence immediately!

 As the testing progresses, I will be relaying the results to you all as soon as possible.  However, respecting the investment that the rest of our business group has made in this effort, I cannot divulge all of the technical data since that would potentially compromise our ability to fulfill the required “ask” of the SBA when funding this type of research, namely the economic development that should result from having a new market for our technology.  My goal has been to demonstrate that programs such as this SBA program exist out there and that earthen technologies are able to take a place beside the usual technology suspects (apps, medical tech, software, energy tech, etc.) as meriting research.  Should you find that you are interested in something similar, I will be available if you would like to pick my brain.

John Jordan

Update from Colorado Earth     

We are happy to announce that construction of the new St. Yves School in Savanette Cabral is underway. The project is a cross-community collaborative initiative of St. Yves parish in Savanette Cabral, École Communautaire Gamaliel De Deslandes, St. John’s Catholic Church in Grafton, ND, and Partners in Progress.  Colorado Earth is carrying out the design and on-site construction support. The school is being constructed with stabilized, compressed, earth block (CEB), a green building material with proven economic, health, and environmental benefits over conventional construction methods. The project brings together experienced CEB block makers and builders from Deslandes and builders and community members from Savanette Cabral. The school will provide a safe and healthy learning environment for 250 rural children, including children with special needs. Father Wilfranc, pastor of St. Yves, says, “In the new school, children will be taught to read, write, and do math. They will also be prepared to think critically about protecting the environment and respecting the rights of all people.” The construction will also provide training and important jobs in green building to local community members. The site has been prepared, cleared of old buildings, and a drinking water system has been relocated. In April, compressed earth block training will begin, followed by manufacturing of over 18,000 blocks needed for construction of the school. Completion of the project is scheduled for this fall.

Michael Neumann (with Partners in Progress)

TEG Tours – Christo Rey Church  

TEG members and guests were treated to a visit at the Christo Rey Church on Saturday, March 16th. The adobe church built by parishioners in 1940 is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. All of the adobes for the project were made on sight. Not only is the building impressive but the stone retablo is a centerpiece of the church. The retablo was carved in 1760. TEG Tours take place every other month throughout the state of New Mexico. For information on the next tour visit our website. theearthbuildersguild.com May’s tour will be in Bernalillo, New Mexico on Saturday, May 11th.

Pat Rutherford

Earthen Building Codes Update  

Every three years, the International Code Council solicits proposals for changes to the model codes that form the basis for most local building codes in the United States. This year, there are a few proposals that would simplify the use of common earthen construction methods. Frequent TEG collaborator The Cob Research Institute has submitted a proposal to add an Appendix to the International Residential Code (IRC) providing guidelines and requirements for Monolithic Adobe (Cob) Construction. Other proposals to the International Building Code (IBC) include the proposed addition of alternatives to the use of portland cement plaster stuccos, introducing the possibility that lime and earthen plasters may be permitted in the future. The proposals will be evaluated and voted on during several meetings to be held this summer and fall; if successful, the proposals will become part of the 2022 IBC and IRC codes.

Ben Loescher

 

TEG Members are welcome to send in articles for our next newsletter.  Please contact Pat at theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com for more information.

Education in Earthbuilding

Are you interested in expanding your understanding and knowledge of building with earth?

Perhaps looking for volunteer opportunities?

Take a look on our website under the Members’ tab or on the Directory for more information on who, what, when and where!

And keep an eye on the TEG blog for additional classes and projects going on in the earth-building world.

TEG Newsletter – Issue #4

TEG Tour – Gutierrez-Hubbell House & Cultural Center  
January’s TEG Tour took place in Albuquerque, NM at the 5,700 Square foot adobe structure that sits on 10 acres in the south valley.  A group of 17 TEG members and guests were guided through the architectural and family history of this restored home and property.  The home dates back to the 1860’s and symbolizes the mixing of Spanish, Anglo and Native American traditions and cultures.  We want to thank Carol Chapman (a descendant of the family) for the information- packed tour.   For more detailed information on the property and the many educational and social events held there, visit their website:  gutierrezhubbellhouse.org  

The Gutierrez-Hubbell House is located at 6029 Isleta Blvd SW  505-244-0507

TEG Tours are typically held the morning of our bi-monthly TEG Board Meeting.  They are an opportunity to network with those in the industry of earthbuilding and those with an interest in earthen construction—adobe, compressed earth block, rammed earth, new work, and historic structures.   Guests are always welcome.  TEG does not charge for the tours; on a rare occasion there is an entry fee at the tour location.  Visit our website to find out where the next tour will be.  theearthbuildersguild.com

Pat Martinez Rutherford
   

Adobe Proficiency Exam    
The next exam for the Basic Adobe Proficiency Certification, offered by the Earthbuilders’ Guild, is scheduled for May 17th and 18th at New Mexico Earth Adobes in Albuquerque, NM.

This exam, designed and reviewed by adobe experts, is designed to show the applicant’s skill and comprehensive knowledge in the field of adobe construction.

Please visit the TEG website for additional details and registration: theearthbuildersguild.com

Helen Levine
   

San Diego County Adobe Tour 
The San Diego Adobe Heritage Association has announced that its 8th annual adobe home tour will feature adobe homes and buildings in and around Pauma Valley, California. Held on Sunday, March 24, the tour will feature buildings from the early 19th century through the 1970s; an adobe mission, an adobe church, a classic rancho-style adobe and four modern-design adobe homes demonstrate the wide variety of earthen construction in San Diego County. Tickets are $27 and can be purchased athttp://adobehometour.com. 

Ben Loescher

 

SCEB Research in Sandia National Laboratories (continued) 
Figure above: Surface profilometry results of block one out of three.  The range of deviation from flatness was about 1mm.

The SBA-funded research project described in the previous newsletters has been completed as of late November 2018, and the final report was given to us in the third week of January 2019.  To be clear, the report had been finalized by the Sandia Laboratories scientists/engineers almost as soon as the testing was completed, but this being a National Laboratory, the report had to pass through a rigorous security assessment to determine whether it was eligible for distribution outside of the lab.  This takes some amount of time, but well worth the wait since it produces a document that has been blessed by some of the most capable security folks in the nation.

The summary results of this project have exceeded our most optimistic expectations.  In my last (Nov. 2018) update I mentioned that the scientists had moved forward with testing and analyzing some alternative bonding materials, acrylic epoxy to be specific.  The epoxy was tested in terms of its strength, compressibility, and cure time.  While the details are proprietary to our effort, what I was most surprised by was the fact (data matters!) that by using the epoxy, a small amount of ductility was introduced to the “system”, meaning when two blocks are bonded this way, when a 3-point bend test (some refer to this as the rupture test) is carried out, the bonded blocks do not catastrophically break.  Rather, what was seen was that the bottom block did crack, but that the crack did not travel upwards and crack through the top block, and when the pressure was relaxed, the pieces, including the cracked bottom block, remained together as one, still bonded together, unit.  I am pretty sure that this result is an exhibit of some pretty unique characteristics of using epoxy to bond SCEBs.  The following graphs were produced by the SNL team.  

Figure above:  Results of shear testing of blocks bonded with epoxy adhesives.  Image (a) shows results for the unfilled epoxy formulations.  Image (b) shows results for sand-filled epoxies.

One particularly satisfying result of this project was to see the level of enthusiasm and engagement among the scientists/engineers at SNL that were working with us.  This technology is not one that routinely comes their way and, truth be told, I think they found it refreshing to work on something that allowed them to stretch their imaginations and embrace some sustainable materials as well.   The useful and somewhat surprising tests that they are able to carry out and report on are truly impressive, an example being the following image.  This is not something that is normally tested, but in this case, they arrived at the conclusion that they needed to do this to understand a critical aspect of the SCEBs.

We are going back to the trough, so to speak, and petition the SBA for a second round of funding to now test the in-plane shear of a built wall system with the epoxy bonding.  If we can, we are also going to attempt fire rating testing as well, but that may be a stretch, given the limited funding that is available.  I will continue this series if we are successful in our request.

John can be reached at john.jordan@itd-nm.com

John Jordan
         

Update from Colorado Earth      
We have completed our second season in Golden, Colorado and have signed up again for our Block Production facility along Highway 93 between Golden and Boulder.  A recent accomplishment along that road comes from the marketing world.  We have a roadside 5’ X 10’ sign! Lisa is a traffic engineer on the side. Her information reports 18,000 cars a day. Securing the permit and getting it built was some effort, but we believe, worth it.  Let’s see what happens! 

The Castle Rock home is up and dry. Our part is complete and a good job of it, if we don’t say so ourselves! We do have the data loggers installed in the blocks.  About 65% of the funding needed was provided through “Go Fund Me”.  However, we are waiting for the interior work to be complete before we will have data to share regarding heat and moisture transfer through the wall system in that home. The exterior walls are 10” thick SCEBs, with 2” of Roxul panels. The finishes are twin track wire (I really like this product) and plaster exterior and lime washed exposed blocks interior.

The best for last: We are forming a cross border SCEB company with Francesco Piazzesi. Francesco is the founder of Echale A Tu Casa, a Mexico City based, social business responsible for the housing of over 1,000,000 low-income Mexicans through the construction of 35,000 SCEB homes (and counting) and 150,000 remodels. Francesco and Jim have been amigos for a couple of decades and we are honored by his trust in Colorado Earth to assist him in bringing his technology over the border. He is sending up a new line of equipment and we are challenged to build a Show Home to advance the cause of earth block walls. We intend this Show Home to start with earthen walls, however, we want every square inch of every material within the structure to first be vetted with a set of parameters including health, energy efficiency, embodied energy, LCA, comfort and affordability, to start the list. Beauty is assumed! We are seeking input from everyone and everywhere to make the judgements on each foundation /  flooring system, through the faucets and lightbulbs, to the roof (solar or earth or…?).
Jump in!  Email lisa@coloradoearth.com or jim@coloradoearth.com with ideas!

Jim Hallock
 

Announcing Earth USA 2019  
Adobe in Action proudly announces Earth USA 2019 – The 10th International Conference on Architecture & Construction with Earthen Materials. The formal conference will be taking place from Friday, October 25 to Sunday, October 27, 2019 at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Earth USA 2019 indicates a wider field of interest than previous conferences and includes adobe, rammed earth, compressed earth block (CEB) and monolithic adobe (cob). Any material or method that uses clay as a binder is considered.

2019 Fred Webster Earthbuilding Engineering Prize

Earth USA (in partnership with Pat Taylor, Bill Druc and Jim Hallock) is initiating the Fred Webster Earthbuilding Engineering Prize as a tribute to Fred and his work in the earthbuilding field. The first prize will be awarded at the Earth USA 2019 conference. The target group for the prize is engineering and architecture students worldwide who are working on innovative design and engineering solutions for new construction as well as preservation projects in the earthbuilding field. More information about the prize can be found at https://www.earthusa.org/fred-webster-prize

Call for Abstracts

Earth USA is now accepting abstracts for presentations at the 2019 conference. Abstracts will be accepted until Friday, February 15, 2019. All abstracts should be submitted using this online form.

Complete details about Earth USA 2019, including how to become a conference sponsor, pertinent dates, and Paper subject categories can be found at https://www.earthusa.org/.

Kurt Gardella

TEG Honorary Membership Nominations
The Board of Directors is accepting nominations for Honorary Lifetime Membership in TEG.
Below is the Criteria.  Deadline for nominations is March 1, 2019.
Email your nomination to theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com

Honorary Lifetime Membership Criteria

One Honorary Lifetime Membership may be awarded to a member of the earthbuilding industry annually, with a two-thirds majority approval of the Board of Directors. Nominees should be submitted in writing to the Board by any member(s) in good standing, with a description as to why the nominee should receive this recognition, along with the material to substantiate the reasoning. The nominee should be of good character, meet TEG’s ethical standards and must meet at least two of the three criteria listed below for consideration. Submissions must be received by March 1st of the current year for consideration for this years’ award; the Board will announce its decision by the end March.

Advancement of Earthen Construction
• Research related to better understanding of earthen materials
• Development of earthen material technology
• Advancement in earthen engineerin

Service to the Community
• Education
• Increase in public awareness and recognition of earthen construction
• Charitable and social benefit work

Service to the Trade and Organization
• Contribution to TEG as an organization
• Work enabling and serving earthen tradespeople and professionals

 

Southwest Solar Adobe School Spring 2019 Class
This spring’s 3-day class is dedicated to Planning and Drafting for a permitted Adobe or Compressed Earth Block home, including as many Hands-on hours we can fit into the Memorial Day weekend of May 25, 26 & 27 (Sat/Sun/Mon). It will be held at our Bosque, NM country site, 38 miles south of Albuquerque. Price is the same as 2018 and the class bonus (only for registered students!) is Plan 704, sent to you in PDF form a few weeks before class. We can also send 704 to your local repro shop for copying. Visit www.adobebuilder.com for details. The class is limited to 14.

Joe Tibbets with Southwest Solar Adobe School

 

TEG Members are welcome to send in articles for our next newsletter.  Please contact Pat at theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com for more information.

Education in Earthbuilding

Are you interested in expanding your understanding and knowledge of building with earth?

Perhaps looking for volunteer opportunities?

Take a look on our website under the Members’ tab or on the Directory for more information on who, what, when and where!

And keep an eye on the TEG blog for additional classes and projects going on in the earth-building world.

 

TEG Newsletter – Issue #3

TEG Tour – Hillsboro, New Mexico

TEG is excited to announce the next TEG Tour. We will be meeting in Hillsboro, New Mexico at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 10th. We will meet at the Cafe. The tour will cover the Black Range Museum (building from c. 1884 with iconic round adobe water tower build late 1920s), the ruins of the Sierra County courthouse (build 1892) and jail, and historic homes along Main and Elenora streets. We will spend a couple of hours taking in as much as possible. We will have lunch beginning at noon at a local restaurant. (no host/RSVP required). The tour is free. Local resident, Garland Bills will be our guide along with one or two other locals. Take a look at the Hillsboro website for a feel for the historic town. The TEG Board meeting will be held after lunch at the Community Center. Guests are welcome.

Please RSVP to Pat ASAP at 575-644-8099

https://www.sierracountynewmexico.info/attractions/hillsboro-new-mexico/

Pat Martinez Rutherford

Tribute to Richard Levine

It is with great sadness that we of New Mexico Earth Adobes announce the passing of Richard Levine, patriarch of the Albuquerque Levine clan and proprietor of NM Earth Adobes. Richard founded New Mexico Earth Industries in 1972, and his company remains one of the largest suppliers of adobes in the US. Although Richard retired several years ago from active participation in the adobe yard, we will miss his advice, his support, and his humor!

Richard leaves behind his wife, Clara Speer; his sisters, Ruth and Anne; his seven children, Keith, Helen, Mark, Ben, Leroy, David, Halcyon, and his step-son, John Bear; eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and a huge circle of friends.

Richard was a talented photographer, geologist, and librarian; spoke fluent Spanish; enjoyed poker nights with his friends; and loved to travel.

He was a lover of good coffee, literature, photography, hard work, intellectual discussion, and a good laugh. He had a twinkle in his steel blue eyes and a rapier sharp wit that won’t be soon forgotten.

Goodbye, Richard. Wherever you are, the dirt is bound to be absolutely perfect for adobes…

Helen Levine

Cob Research Institute (CRI) Study

In the San Francisco Bay area, The Cob Research Institute (CRI) is currently preparing samples to be used in thermal resistance testing to determine the steady state U value of cob. Testing is expected to occur in December at Intertek Architectural Testing Lab in Fresno, California. The work will be conducted according to ASTM C1363, the recognized method for determining the thermal performance of building envelope assemblies and components. A detailed description of the thermal test project can be seen on the CRI website www.cobcode.org

The work is just one part of an ongoing larger CRI initiative that will propose the addition of a Cob Appendix to the International Residential Code early next year. While the work is currently under way, additional funding is necessary to meet the $6,000 thermal test budget. Donations to support the Thermal Test and CRI / IRC Cob Appendix Project can be made at https://www.cobcode.org/donate.html. CRI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to making cob construction legally available to everyone who wishes to build with it.

Ben Loescher

SCEB Research in Sandia National Laboratories (continued) 

The SBA-funded research project described in the previous newsletters has almost come to the end.  Over the last two months there have been some interesting developments, including some of the first data coming in from the shear testing of the polyurethane adhesives.  The data is informative in that it does demonstrate that the use of adhesives delivers a relatively strong shear strength, which will be reported on in the next newsletter article.  The images show how the Labs took the bonded pieces, cut them to a specific size (2.2 inches square) and then potted them in a super strong ceramic material that held the SCEB pieces solidly while shear force was applied in opposite directions.  The resulting failure is evident with the major failure being the adhesive with some fracturing of the SCEB on the edge.  This was the expected result, so additional testing will determine what the average shear strength of the adhesive is.  There are upwards of 35 tests of this type that are being performed as part of this project so we are hoping that a clear understanding of the interaction between the SCEBs and the adhesive becomes evident.

Another development in this project is that the Labs brought in a very specific expert in epoxy resins to discuss and suggest the use of epoxies for the adhesion of the SCEBs.  At this point there are some preliminary tests being done, and we are excited to see what is found regarding their use.  This will be reported on in the next newsletter as well.  Overall, it has been an entirely worthwhile effort and demonstrates the effective use of this type of research funding.

 John Jordan 

Update from Colorado Earth

We’ve been busy on several fronts, fulfilling block orders, working with clients on the design of their home, and working towards setting up a second block plant on the Western Slope of Colorado.  We are also excited to update you on our energy testing that will be carried out on one of our current build projects in Castle Rock, Colorado, south of Denver. Thank you for TEG and all our supporters for helping to make this testing possible.  We are excited to share that the data loggers are in the wall for data collection! We will start collecting data for the next year on how the wall performs with regards to moisture and heat transfer.

We are working with Emu Systems and SMT Research on this project.

The image above shows the Rockwool insulation going over the CEB walls. To learn more about this study please visit GoFundMe.

Lisa Morey Schroder

Where’s Joe?

Joe Tibbets is headed to Honduras and Roatan island to work with Rodrigo Flores Gomez, an old friend from USAID days. Rodrigo has a Belgian hand press (one at a time) CEB machine, with which he and crew have made many thousands of stabilized CEBS on mainland Honduras. The island has great soils for adobe, so we are going to see what might be done. The island now has a wind farm and is trying to enhance its environmental protections. As you probably know, Roatan and the Bay Islands have the second largest coral reef in the world, only second to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. To protect the reef, they have to prevent off-flow from the shores of the island and so interest in things “green” is enhanced there. Of course, we’ll have plenty of help from the Iguanas, lots of screeching from the parrots and hopefully not much help from the Crocs….(ha ha).

Photo above: A View of the Caribbean from the north shore of Isla Roatan 

Joe Tibbets with Southwest Solar Adobe School

TEG Members are welcome to send in articles for our next newsletter.  Please contact Pat at teg@theearthbuildersguild.com for more information.

Education in Earthbuilding

Are you interested in expanding your understanding and knowledge of building with earth?

Perhaps looking for volunteer opportunities?

Take a look on our website under the Members’ tab or on the Directory for more information on who, what, when and where!

And keep an eye on the TEG blog for additional classes and projects going on in the earth-building world.

 

TEG Newsletter Issue #2

TEG Tour – Taos Pueblo July 2018

Taos pueblo was constructed in a setting backed by the Taos Mountains of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The settlement was built on both sides of Rio Pueblo de Taos, also called Rio Pueblo and Red Willow Creek, a small stream that flows through the middle of the pueblo compound and is their water source. Its headwaters come from the nearby mountains.

Taos Pueblo’s most prominent architectural feature is a multi-storied residential complex of adobe – built probably between 1000 and 1450 CE, according to the Pueblo’s website Inhabited for hundreds of years there is still no electricity, running water or other utilities.

The Pueblo is the essence of adobe construction. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960. In 1992 it was designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

For a complete description of the Pueblo visit their website: taospueblo.com  And if you have not been there be sure to put it on your bucket list. It is rich in culture and a true example of adobe construction.

Be sure to keep an eye out for TEG’s Tours which are announced on our Websitetheearthbuildersguild.com In September we will be in northern New Mexico and in November we will be in Hillsboro/Kingston, NM (southern New Mexico).

Pat Bellestri-Martinez 

Home Energy Ratings 

We all know that a properly built earthen home is comfortable – after all it’s been done for thousands of years.  Now the energy efficiency of homes built with earth can be compared to just about any other material with a tested R-value and the results reflect what has been known since prehistoric times.

The accepted standard is a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating, which compares the rated home with the same home built to 2006 IECC standards.  One big advantage for earthen homes is the ability for the mass walls to absorb heat (or coolness) and redistribute that into the adjoining interior space when the outside temperature changes.  A properly oriented building using passive solar design takes full advantage of shifts in seasonal solar gains, but when that’s not possible or desirable because of views, lot design, etc., the benefits of mass walls are still evident in the rating.

Many rebate, tax credit and green building programs require a HERS rating as part of the energy efficiency criteria. Certified HERS Raters can be found at www.resnet.us

Jane Whitmire

SCEB Research in Sandia National Laboratories (continued) 

The SBA-funded research project described in the previous newsletter (May, 2018) continues to move forward with some interesting results, some good, some bad.  One unanticipated situation is that the scientists/engineers at Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) and the company researching the adhesives hopefully suitable for bonding compressed earth blocks (CEB’s) both desire to test for baseline results, while I desire to get real-world use results since that will determine whether we commercially pursue any solutions found.  This was an unanticipated condition in that we may not be able to determine my desired results before exhausting the research funds.  Still, I had to ultimately agree with the more knowledgeable and experienced team members since understanding the fundamental concepts and data points will provide a more justifiable basis for moving things forward than a one-off solution that could be too fickle to be easily tweaked for broader uses.  So, we are proceeding with testing of bonding agents that include varying compositions of adhesive as well as varying thicknesses of the bond line.  As the testing progresses, we expect to have results that will serve to demonstrate the utility of bonding the SCEBs together.  We are hoping to have shareable results somewhere in the late fall time frame so stay tuned!

 John Jordan 

Adobe in Iceland?   

Adobe in Action Co-Director and TEG Board Member Kurt Gardella attended a 4-day turf house construction workshop in Iceland in May 2018. The workshop took place in the Northwest of Iceland in the area of Tyrfingsstaðir, Skagafjörður. The course instructor – Helgi Sigurðsson of Fornverk ehf – guided the group through the reconstruction of a stone foundation and turf walls of a typical Icelandic sheep farm building. The course was organized by BYGGÐASAFN SKAGFIRÐINGA – Regional Folk Museum.

Each morning began with the group walking to a lower area of the farm to cut turf blocks from a wet field using sharpened shovels and a special undercutting spade. Turf blocks can be cut in a variety of shapes and sizes but we cut clamped blocks which are fairly large and triangular in shape. While in the field we also cut strips and turfs using a turf scythe. These thinner and longer pieces are laid longwise or crosswise between the courses of turf blocks in order to tie the blocks together (similar to mud mortar in adobe construction). The wall construction techniques we learned focused on double-wall turf block construction with a special focus on dry-stacked stone foundations. A sound stone foundation is the starting point of any quality turf wall in Iceland due to the wet climate. We ended the workshop by constructing a simple gable roof frame out of recycled timbers. This frame was finished with a layer of turf strip “shingles”. Further layers of turf strips will be added by a future workshop group.

Kurt Gardella wishes to thank the workshop organizers and instructors in Iceland for their hospitality (traditional lamb meals) and patience (English translations of all topics covered). He also wishes to thank the Santa Fe Community College Adobe Program for covering his workshop fee.

More information about Icelandic turf houses can be found athttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_turf_house.
More information about the New Mexican method of building with turf/sod blocks (terron) can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_structure#Sod_or_turf.

Picture credit: Bryndís Zoega
Reference: “Building with Turf” by Sigríður Sigurðardóttir. English version by Nancy Marie Brown. This book can be downloaded as a PDF here.

Kurt Gardella

Adobe Proficiency Examination

Are you hoping to show prospective employers just how experienced you are in adobe construction?  Or perhaps you’re a contractor, wishing to show a client that you are proficient in building with adobe? Or you want to hire someone to build your garden wall or adobe home and want to be sure that someone knows what he or she is doing…

The Earthbuilders’ Guild offers a Basic Adobe Proficiency Certification, comprised of a written exam and a hand’s on practicum.  These exams, designed and reviewed by adobe experts, are designed to show the applicant’s skill and comprehensive knowledge in the field of adobe construction.

TEG will hold the next series of exams in Albuquerque, NM, on September 21st and 22nd of this year.  Please visit our website for additional details and registration. theearthbuildersguild.com

Helen Levine

Swan House Update

Over many years the Adobe Alliance has held workshops a few miles outside of Presidio, Texas, constructing a beautiful adobe compound of soaring vaults and domes. In creating the various structures of the Swan House, Simone Swan, TEG member and the principal of the Adobe Alliance, was strongly influenced by the technique and style of architect Hassan Fathy, with whom she apprenticed in the 1970’s.

Due to passing time, weather, and the nature of the materials used—unamended adobe and earthen plasters—a few of the domes require restoration and the application of lime plasters to further protect them.

Work on the Swan House is scheduled to begin on October 1st.  For those interested in participating, please see TEG blog for more information. 

Photo Credit: Richard Levine

Helen Levine

Update from Colorado Earth – Energy Performance Testing and We are Hiring! 

 

Housing is a major public health issue. The United Nations once estimated that 10 million people worldwide die each year from conditions related to substandard housing. Our Team intends to address this construction issue by validating a durable, economically and environmentally sustainable wall system that can be utilized in greater capacity today. 

Earthen walls have proven themselves capable, having already provided safe and comfortable shelter for thousands of years. These homes, when properly built for the climate and environmental hazards, address the need to manage moisture risk and conserve energy consumption, while minimizing maintenance requirements and life cycle costs.   

The Smithsonian Magazine recently celebrated their 40th anniversary and to commemorate the event, shared 40 things you need to know about the next 40 years. Number one on their list of “major changes” was that “sophisticated buildings will be made of mud.” Despite the fact that earthen construction has been in constant use for over 10,000 years, modern building materials and industries have led the front for testing and building science advancements. There exists a lack of adequate empirical confirmation that substantiates what has been shared anecdotally for thousands of years – earthen homes keep people warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.  

For our testing purposes, Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks (SCEB) will be used to research how moisture and heat transfer through an earthen block home that will be built this summer in Castle Rock, Colorado, USA.  In parallel with the testing, our Team will develop a calibrated model of the thermal performance of earthen construction that will be used as a test bed for vetting design solutions.

We hope you can help us obtain this useful data by supporting us to obtain the necessary sensors and equipment to install in the wall.  Our Team will monitor heat and moisture changes within the wall and on the interior surface of the exterior wall over the course of a year, and then work to improve the energy efficiency software programs.  

Unlike many products today, the price of soil is not tied to the price of oil. Stabilized earthen walls are impervious to water damage, fire-proof, insect-proof, bullet-proof, and can be built with minimal training.  Additionally earthen walls have the unique ability to absorb and adsorb water vapor, unlike traditional wall systems.  Our Team is ready and willing to learn more through applied research, and share this knowledge with the construction industry for the betterment of our environment, health, and economy.

Our mission will be to disseminate the performance of earthen wall systems so that energy savings can be realized worldwide.  We hope you help us!

Click here to visit our GoFundMe site.

Also we have some exciting upcoming projects in Colorado Earth and are looking for help!  Please contact lisa@coloradoearth.com or jim@coloradoearth.com for more information.  Send your resume!

Lisa Schroder 

TEG Members are welcome to send in articles for our next newsletter.  Please contact Pat at teg@theearthbuildersguild.com for more information.

Education in Earthbuilding

Are you interested in expanding your understanding and knowledge of building with earth?

Perhaps looking for volunteer opportunities?

Take a look on our website under the Members’ tab or on the Directory for more information on who, what, when and where!

And keep an eye on the TEG blog for additional classes and projects going on in the earth-building world.