SFCC Adobe Class – Summer 2021

ADOB 123 – Compressed Earth Block Construction
Dates: June 7 to July 31, 2021 (8 weeks)
Format: Online (but 2 live-instruction weekends might be added if the pandemic situation improves)
Course Description: An introduction to compressed earth block (CEB) and stabilized compressed earth block (SCEB) construction techniques from around the world. This course examines various compressed earth block manufacturing methods, including the use of small and large forming chambers and manual and engine power as well as block stabilization techniques. Topics also include the design of compressed earth block walls that accommodate windows, doors and utilities

Full details about the Adobe Program at SFCC can be found at https://sfccssb.sfcc.edu/PROD/pw_pub_sched.p_listthislist?term_in=202110&subj_in=ADOB or contact adjunct faculty member Kurt Gardella at kurt.gardella@sfcc.edu.

TEG Virtual Tour

Casa del Sol Construction Adobe Build
On a beautiful little north valley lane in Albuquerque, there is work going on, and almost complete, on a spectacular adobe casa. The home is being built by master builder Mr. Danny Martinez of Casa del Sol Construction and is, as he says, his last commercial build which caps an illustrious career as a creator of livable, lovable homes. This build is a collaboration between Danny, his wife Renee Martinez, his daughter as architect, and the home’s owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bud Burns, and is the realization of their dreams and Danny’s belief in creating a living space that showcases those dreams.

What I will attempt to do in this virtual tour is give a visual look at the progress of the build along with some amount of description. This is a first for TEG tours and it may take some refinement to adequately portray the beauty and intensity of the effort going on with this build. To my eyes, it is a masterpiece of earthen construction, but it also is a defining creation of a builder who is capable of bringing forward the exemplary possibilities of what adobe offers and how it can be used to realize just how effective this material can be in meeting the modern demands of an energy efficient yet completely livable space. This first installment showcases the creation and construction progress. The second installment will (hopefully) focus on the finished home in all its glory.

The homeowner has graciously given his permission to TEG to print this story and to describe the various aspects of the build. We thank him and we especially thank Danny Martinez for his willingness to allow us to follow and record the progress of this build. It has been my pleasure and honor to be able to bring this to our TEG membership.

July 7, 2018: Foundation and stem wall built as work starts at the home. Photo courtesy of Helen Levine, Master Adobe Block maker and provider of all adobes used in this build.

September 29, 2018: Work has commenced on the wall and structural construction. The floors in most areas have been started and the layout is starting to emerge.

September 29, 2018: Plumbing and some electrical are being roughed in and the initial window and door lintels are being placed. Some of the “gringo” blocks used for securing window and door frames can be seen.

September 29, 2018: One of the key aesthetic elements in the early stages, the Kiva style built-in fireplace by Renee Martinez. That’s our Helen giving her blessings to this construction project.

December 7, 2019: Much progress has been made and the exterior walls, roof, parapets, bond beams and canales are in place.

December 7, 2019: Windows are being installed and exterior features such as columns and overhangs for the porch areas are taking shape.

January 18, 2020: The great room is progressing. The Kiva fireplace is the highlight feature, with its beautiful lines and flowing design. The view out of the large window showcases the Sandia mountains.

January 18, 2020: Danny’s intricate patterns and extraordinary craftsmanship are evident in this picture of the doors leading to the courtyard.

January 18, 2020: The courtyard porch coming off of the great room and the kitchen space. The exterior walls have the wire affixed in preparation for the first scratch coat of stucco.

April 11, 2020: The grand entrance. As taken from this aspect you can see into the great room with the massive picture window. The fireplace is just to the right of this window.

August 12, 2020: The grand room is nearly complete. The Kiva fireplace has been finished and the vigas carry the eyes towards the main picture window with its close-in view of the courtyard and its distant view of the Sandia mountains. The energy efficiency of in-floor radiant heating, with its especially beneficial interior quality of living, will be appreciated for years to come.

October 7, 2020: The powder room just off of the great room. The wall tiles, floor tiles, and the wall finishes all come together in an elegant and accessible manner.

October 7, 2020: The hardwood flooring is down and the late afternoon glow coming through the front door gives a warmth to this room that promises many years of enjoyment.

October 7, 2020: Patio pavers going down, scratch coat and base coat of stucco in place, patio doors ready for use. The use of exposed lintels throughout the home lends continuity and visual beauty.

October 7, 2020: Portions of the finish coat done with some of the base coat awaiting its turn. This is the courtyard view from the patio in the previous picture.
 
This concludes the construction tour of the Danny Martinez constructed Burns Family adobe. I hope to be able to present another installment of this tour in the near future, with images of the completed structure showing the true beauty and grace of this grand home.

John Jordan – TEG Board Member

TEG Newsletter – Issue #12

Old Dowlin Mill Update
An update to a previous article that was featured in Newsletter #10:

The Dowlin Mill in Ruidoso, New Mexico is a local icon and is considered to be the oldest structure in town. It became operational as a grist mill in 1868. It was acquired by Carmon Phillips in the 1940s, and later passed onto his daughter and son-in-law, Delana and Michael Clements.

In 2017, a gas explosion caused substantial damage. For any other type of building, it would have been considered a complete loss. Fortunately for the community, the building was made from thick adobe walls. The roof was blown off, and fire consumed the remaining wood work, but the earthen structure remained.

In 2019, restoration was started by Pat Taylor of Mesilla, New Mexico. Pat and his crew made substantial progress before work was paused in the fall of that year. The project was winterized by covering the exposed walls and making sure any rain or runoff would drain away from the building, so as to not compromise the original structure, or the progress that had been made.

The next year, 2020, Pat asked if I would be willing to assume the continuation of the restoration. After a discussion with the owners, I agreed to this role. Since some time was required to finish up jobs, pull permits, and “shift gears”, it was mid-September before we got to work. While I have quite a bit of experience working on adobe buildings, for my crew, it was a whole new adventure. On-the-job training as they say, but that’s OK. There are now some new players in the tiny group of people who practice in the art of historic adobe restoration.

We picked up where Pat and his crew had left off, and continued repairing and, in some cases, rebuilding the walls. There was a significant amount of work remaining in fixing the old stone foundation and replacing the ground level adobes that had been eroded over the last 150 years. And yes, I mean replacement of entire blocks. This is done by cutting into the wall, shoring it up on either side, then re-laying a block in the hole at the bottom of the wall. This is a tedious and time consuming process, but it restores the building into its original integrity. The goal is to make this building last at least as long as it already has, and hopefully, it can last indefinitely. With continued care, it will last as long as the townspeople are willing to keep it.

By late October, we were replacing the lintels, or beams, over some of the door and window openings, with adobes laid up to full height in some sections of the walls. It was necessary to remove and replace, or re-set, some of the original adobes. This led to an interesting find. While many little artifacts have been discovered around the building, the mortar in the east wall contained several .38 caliber pistol shells. Whether they were placed there on purpose, or were laying in the dirt used to make the mud, I can’t say. But, considering the period in which this place was built, it compels one’s imagination to wander down the dusty trails of the Old West, an era that is preserved only in history books and exceptional places like the Old Dowlin Mill.
 
Rob Taylor – TEG Board Member

Intro to Adobe Architecture & Mud Plastering Workshop

Photo credit: Helen Levine
This winter Helen Levine and Joanna Keane Lopez have been offering “Intro to Adobe Architecture & Mud Plastering” weekend workshops at the adobe manufacturing yard, New Mexico Earth Adobes in the North Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The beginner workshops covered topics such as soil composition, building with a foundation, how to make adobe bricks, laying adobes, how to mix and apply mortar, how to install an adobe arch, and how to mud plaster. The workshop was held outdoors, split into two groups to maintain social distancing for Covid safe practices, and masks were required. Due to strong interest, the workshop will be offered again on various dates in the spring and summer; check www.joannakeanelopez.com/workshops for further information.

Helen Levine is co-owner of NM Earth Industries, adobe manufacturers serving the greater southwest and beyond since 1972.  Helen has been working with adobe since 1978, and serves on the board of The Earthbuilders’ Guild.  

Joanna Keane Lopez is a multidisciplinary artist whose work blurs the boundaries between contemporary sculpture and architecture through the medium of adobe mud. By working with materials of adobe architecture, earthen plaster and alíz (a clay slip paint) her work acts to address conceptions of sculpture in engagement with land. Joanna is on the board of Adobe in Action.

Joanna Keane Lopez
 
Next Earthbuilders’ Guild Certification Exam

Photo credit: Helen Levine

The next Earthbuilders’ Guild certification exam is scheduled to take place on Saturday June 05, 2021 in Albuquerque, NM, at New Mexico Earth Adobes. The written exam will be held in the morning, with the hands-on portion after lunch.  Come prepared for a long but satisfying day!

For questions please email us at theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com, and for more information or to register go to: https://theearthbuildersguild.com/teg-basic-adobe-proficiency-certification/

Helen Levine – TEG Board Member
 
An Update on Spring 2021 Adobe in Action Activities

Fifteen students are currently working their way through Adobe in Action’s first online class of 2021 – Passive Solar Adobe Design. The students are getting ready to complete their final projects – running detailed heat gain and heat loss calculations on floor plans they designed themselves during their midterm projects. Adobe in Action is celebrating its 10th year of offering online classes in 2021. The full spring 2021 class schedule can be found at https://www.adobeinaction.org/event-calender/. In addition to our online classes, we continue to offer project support to four owner builders who have all completed our online adobe certificate and continue working on their home builds. Keep an eye on our Mud Talks podcast series for an upcoming episode on the topic of plumbing and electricity in adobe walls at https://www.adobeinaction.org/mud-talks.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member
 
TEG Welcomes the SFCC Adobe Construction Program as a Member
The Santa Fe Community College Adobe Construction Program became a member of The Earthbuilders’ Guild in early 2021. The program provides students with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to gain employment in the growing natural building fields of adobe construction, rammed earth, CEB construction and natural plastering. The program also functions as a stepping stone for entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the natural building industry (e.g., adobe brick/compressed earth block (CEB) production, bagged earthen plasters, natural insulation materials). The program also welcomes non-professional owner-builders who wish to obtain the skills needed to design and build their own adobe home.

The program is currently in the process of adding a CEB Construction course to its curriculum and hopes to be able to offer this class for the first time over the summer 2021 semester. The program received a CEB machine as a donation some years ago and is excited to begin making compressed earth blocks on campus very soon.

Full details about the Adobe Construction Program at SFCC can be found at https://www.sfcc.edu/programs/adobe-construction/.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member
 
SCEB Research at Sandia National Laboratories (Cont.)
Since my last report in November 2020, we have some very interesting information and results to report on. The goal of the FY2020 grant of $80K from the New Mexico Small Business Administration was to conduct a fully compliant ASTM E119 fire resistance test. We had thought that this would bring a high level of validation for the construction method we are exploring and testing, namely the use of an epoxy mixture to bond SCEBs. While certain aspects of the project succeeded wonderfully, there were some issues that were beyond our control that left the overall results in an indeterminate state.

I will not go over all the details of the testing here, but feel free to look at the past several TEG newsletters to read up on my long-running set of articles that have provided the background and details of this project.

First and foremost, the test failed. That is the short and precise piece of information that matters when discussing a standards test, such as the ASTM E119, which only has a pass/fail result. This is because these are threshold tests, meant to push a system, such as a built wall, to the level where it can be determined that it will either hold up under a particularly challenging set of applied forces or it will fail because it could not withstand these forces. This ASTM E119 test has four principal requirements, some of which are quite defined. In the case of the test we were conducting, the fire/heat being applied to the wall needed to be at least 1000°C (about 1800°F) on the test face of the wall, for a duration of no less than 4 hours, with an engineered load on the wall that replicates the presumed roof load that the wall would be subjected to in the real world, in our case it was approximately 9000lbs. across the 11-foot span of the wall. Lastly, once the heating phase is complete, and within 5 minutes of being complete, there is the requirement of spraying the wall with a stream of water that replicates what a regulation fire hose can spray for a duration of 5 minutes in a specific serpentine pattern. Not an easy test to carry out but certainly one that can prove some substantial and valuable qualities of both the components of the wall and how it is constructed. But it is still a pass/fail test. There are modes of failure such as buckling of the wall, fire blow-through of the wall, blow-through of the water, and several other failure modes.

We conducted the test regimen on a small (4 sq. ft.) test wall first, as described in my last article. The small wall was subjected to essentially the exact same forces as the large (100 sq. ft.) wall including the heat, roof load, time duration, and water spray. This test was an undeniable success. It was an amazing experience to watch the test since there were infra-red cameras aimed at the back side of the wall the entire time as well as thermocouple sensors in the fire box and affixed to the back side of the wall. The ambient air temperature was around 50°F during the test.  During the test period the back side of the wall never climbed above 100°F and when the spray test, which was for 1 minute since it was scaled to the size of the small wall, was finished the wall was completely intact except for a small spall area about 4 square inches in size and about ¾ inch deep. From the image you can see the small damage but there was no penetration of the wall either by fire or by water. Also, the wall stayed as once piece and was even able to be lifted and transported as a single unit. Success indeed!

The large wall test failed because the burn box, which was modeled prior to the test using computational fluid dynamic modeling software, could not achieve the required temperature. The number of burners used was insufficient to get above approximately 550°C, which was consistent throughout the test period. The Sandia Labs engineers were quite disappointed and realized what had happened but once the test was underway there wasn’t an easy fix that could be made so they decided to continue through the 4 hour period. At the end of the heating phase, the Kirtland AFB Fire Department personnel sprayed the water as prescribed, accompanied by massive volumes of steam and at least 500 gallons of water. Once the water spray was complete, we watched as the wall dried off within about 5 minutes due to the residual heat still within the wall. There was literally no visible damage to the wall, as the image shows, but the test was still a failure.

When the wall was demolished the Sandia engineers pulled it down and onto a steel beam set in a sand pit in order to get it broken apart. The entire bottom half of the wall remained as one piece even after the pull down and the upper part, having the most kinetic energy as the wall hit the sand pit, broke apart in random ways that were independent for the most part from the block joints. Most impressive.

I mentioned in my last article that I believed this one would be the last in this ongoing series. However, because of the mode of failure of the test, the NM SBA folks are sympathetic to our cause and there’s a very good chance that we will get another round of research grant funding to hopefully complete a fully compliant test. If that happens, then this will not be the last article. Wish us luck!

Left: Large test wall after the heat and water spray parts of the testing. The brighter spot in the lower middle is a result of one of the burners blowing directly onto this spot. Right: Small test wall showing the tested face on the top. The small damage shown is a result of the water stream being directed at this spot for the duration of the water test.
 
Making Adobes in Phoenix in January Brings a Community Together
The community art space and studio, The Sagrado on South Central Avenue in Phoenix has begun to make adobes. The adobe making comes from a program the community art space and studio has called Design Empowerment, Empowering Youth through Design. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, youth would practice sketching walking through the community. Architects, architectural students and artists listened and empowered youth through the consciousness of design, the socialness of design with drawings and sketching. Asking why is it built this way, can it be improved, what is it saying, how would I design it, and how can we design it.

The community activity did not necessarily work through online presentations and indoor space was not possible with social distancing for safety concerns. Why not use what we have to build what we need was the solution. Outdoor space for meditation, lectures, teaching, community space and listening space all built by the community from the soil we live, work and walk on daily is the solution.

Practitioners in adobe have been sharing their knowledge and learnings building together with the community an outdoor space meeting community needs.    
                                
Written by TEG Member Kirk Higbee, Phoenix, Arizona

Left: Community members in Phoenix mix soil for making adobes
Right: Adobe making in Phoenix in January 2020
 
TEG Board of Directors Position Open
The Board has an opening available for a seat on the Board of Directors. We meet 6 times a year and varying locations in New Mexico – primarily Albuquerque. Over the last year we have been meeting via Zoom. The position provides for many opportunities to network, keep informed, visit Earth building sites, (will resume post Covid) and work with committed industry professionals. Please submit your qualifications and a letter of interest to theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com.  

If you have any questions, please ask. We would welcome your participation. For your perusal, minutes from our meetings are posted on TEG’s website: www.theearthbuildersguild.com
 
Coming Soon: Virtual Adobe Tour
Keep an eye on your inbox for an additional TEG newsletter which will be dedicated to a virtual tour of an adobe build. The home is being built by master builder Mr. Danny Martinez of Albuquerque and is, as he says, his last commercial build which caps an illustrious career as a creator of livable, lovable homes. Here’s a little preview for you:

TEG Newsletter – Issue 11

Codes and Standards Notes

Despite complications from the C19 pandemic which have complicated work for many organizations, we are happy to report that earthen code and standards development continues. A few notes and updates from around the United States:
SCEB Mix Design Standard: The Earthen Construction Initiative (ECI) will soon begin development of research to inform standards for the mixes used in Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks (SCEBs). While SCEB construction has enormous promise as a cost-effective, low-carbon building material, design professionals and contractors have lacked scientificly derived guidance on how and where to procure and process materials for optimal mixes. Upon completion, the Standard is expected to streamline fabrication and engineering, allowing wider adoption of SCEB construction in the United States and beyond.
ASTM Guide for the Design of Earthen Floors: An ASTM working group including representatives from ECI, EarthEnable, The Development Center for Appropriate Technology continues to develop an ASTM standard for earthen floors. Building on work initiated by EarthEnable to improve housing conditions in Rwanda, once completed the standard is expected to provide guidance on material selection, design criteria, installation, indoor environmental quality and sustainable deployment. The groups work is supported in part by a grant from The Earthbuilders’ Guild.
International Code Council Schedule: The International Code Council (ICC) is the organzation that develops and publishes the International Building and Residential Codes, including the national codes that govern adobe and cob construction in most states. The deadline for code change proposals for these sections will be January 10, 2022 so that they can be evaluated over the course of that summer and fall. Please contact TEG if you are interested in joining us as we continue to expand and improve our earthen building codes!
Ben Loescher – TEG Board Member


 


EBUKI Announces 2020 Clayfest to be Held Online – November 27-28th

Earth Building UK and Ireland are taking their annual Clayfest ONLINE! This is the very opposite of where Clayfest comes from, a chance to develop conversations with clay or a trowel in hand as well as the skills that pass there are opportunities to network with a big group of likeminded people from near and far.
But don’t despair, going online means speakers we couldn’t hope to bring from Africa, America North and South as well as nearer to home Ireland and the UK. And you can join us too, wherever you are! So welcome, we hope this can bring some skills, knowledge and understanding of what is going on in heritage, new build, design, research, standards and training, a full range of skills in building and building skills
 
When you join this Clayfest you can stay ‘in the hall’ right through or dip in and out and listen to the bits you think are most relevant to you, you’ll get a link to the recording after the event too. But the Clayfest spirit is also to bump into things you never expected, learn about topics you thought irrelevant which suddenly take a shape and significance you never expected. Take a look at the speakers below and come and find out what is going on in this and other corners of the earth…

Rowland Keable – Earth Building UK


Large test wall ready for the next steps for the ASTM E119 test procedure. The red points are where fire resistance caulking was applied to chink small through holes.

SCEB Research at Sandia National Laboratories (Cont.)

Large test wall ready for the next steps for the ASTM E119 test procedure. The red points are where fire resistance caulking was applied to chink small through holes.
SCEB Research at Sandia National Laboratories (Cont.)

Since my last report in July 2020, we have been busy wrestling with the multiple issues of how to manage a large scale (for testing purposes) wall build in an enclosed test facility that is designed to handle the heat stresses of the ASTM E119 fire resistance testing regimen.  What we have found is that perseverance is the bottom line when it comes to driving forward on this level of testing, probably the same conclusion that countless others in similar situations have arrived at, but nonetheless, it is applicable to our little test.  As a recap, we, Paverde LLC and four other small businesses located in New Mexico, as a group petitioned for and received $80k in research grant funding from the NM Small Business Administration (NMSBA) to be spent at Sandia National Labs here in Albuquerque to perform an ASTM E119 fire resistance test on our proprietary method of construction using SCEBs and non-cementitious, epoxy based bonding materials.  We are nearly at the end of the funding period which runs from January 1st through December 15th, unlike purely US Government organizations which have the standard October 1st through September 30th funding cycles.  This is important since it definitely affected the availability of the Sandia engineers and scientists.  

As we have progressed in this test, perhaps the most vexing issue has been the fact that as a grantee, we, Paverde, et.al., have no leverage in when, how, or why the Sandia engineers work on our project, primarily due to the fact that any of these folks that help us do so on a voluntary basis.  Not to say that they work for free, but rather they peel out time from their regularly assigned tasks and devote some amount of time to our project which they are able to charge time against.  While this approach is the very heart of the NMSBA grant program, it is also a two-edged sword in that as a grantee we cannot dictate the specifics of the assistance that the Sandia folks provide.  We ran afoul of that when the COVID issues caused a ripple effect with the folks who are helping us.  They had to juggle several things at once regarding their time availability which caused them to have to devote more than anticipated time to their formal projects while putting our project on the backburner.  It was not a project killer, but it did set us back tremendously for the timelines that we had projected at the beginning of the year for milestone activity completion.

At this time, the middle of November, we are awaiting the small-scale testing of a 2x2x1 wall segment that we had hoped to have done by the end of September so that initial results would guide us in overcoming any construction or methodology issues before construction of the large (11’ wide x 9’ tall x 1’ thick) wall.  At this point, because we are running out of time, we went ahead and built the large wall, and we hope that any discovered issues when we test the small wall are manageable.   We anticipate the small wall fire test to happen around the week of Thanksgiving.  The large wall test is scheduled for the week of December 7th.  With fingers crossed, this should just give us enough time to coalesce the results into a definitive report.

The construction of the small wall (see image) gave some indication of how well the large wall could be constructed.  One of the most challenging aspects of our construction method is the operational speed that must be maintained due to set times of the bonding materials we are pioneering.  In the construction of the small wall, we had the luxury of being able to reach any area of the structure just by moving a bit, but once we commenced construction of the large wall it took on the same challenges as any large build, needing scaffolding and staging of materials as well as the complete attention of the workers.  I enlisted the assistance of Mr. Matteo Pacheco, of MRP Design and Construction, a current member of TEG, to lead and provide experience with construction methods to help with the construction of the large wall. With his help and insight, we were able to accomplish the large wall build (see image) while also figuring out some of the operational challenges and making decisions about how best to manage the operational part of this approach in the real world.  It was a voyage of discovery indeed!  

The next installment of this series should be the last.  We hope to have some solid answers regarding our construction approach, but we also hope to have the knowledge that SCEBs are a valid option for rapid earthen construction.  See you soon!

Left: Matteo Pacheco and John Jordan celebrating the finished large test wall completion. Right: Small test wall ready for transport to the Sandia Labs test facility. Wooden structures are for stability during moving and for lifting once on site.


Testing different clays for floor finish coats.

An Update on Fall 2020 Adobe in Action Activities

Twelve students are currently working their way through Adobe in Action’s final online class of 2020 – Floors for Adobe Structures. The students are getting ready to complete their midterm projects – making a small test floor box out of wood which will be used in a later week of the course to test various earthen floor types and finishes. Adobe in Action will be celebrating its 10th year of offering online classes in 2021. The spring 2021 class schedule is now online and can be found at https://www.adobeinaction.org/event-calender/. In addition to our online classes, we continue to offer project support to four owner builders who have all completed our online adobe certificate and have begun working on their home builds. Finally, check out our latest Mud Talks podcast episode at https://www.adobeinaction.org/mud-talks.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member


An Update on Earthbuilding Activities in Germany

My colleagues over at the Dachverband Lehm (German Earthbuilding Association) asked me to pass the following message on through the TEG Newsletter:

Dear Colleagues,

On the occasion of the LEHM 2020 – 8th International Conference on Building with Earth, we are pleased to present the entire conference programme online in German and English.

While the LEHM 2020 has been cancelled due to the rapidly developing coronavirus situation, the knowledge and expertise of the presenters and contributors can still be made available for the benefit of the earth building community.

The online conference contains each of the presentations available to download as PDF files in German and English. The topics range from modern earth building, current norms and research and innovative product developments to sustainability and conservation in earth building: https://www.dachverband-lehm.de/lehm2020/online

All the conference papers and posters are also available collected together in a bilingual digital conference proceedings. The USB-Stick also contains the entire conference proceedings form the preceding LEHM conferences in 2004, 2008, 20012, and 2016. Full details in the DVL shop: https://www.dachverband-lehm.de/shop#lehm-2020-tagungsbeitraege-der-8-fachtagung-fuer-lehmbau

published by: section of public relations Dachverband Lehm e.V.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member


Two more Certifications Issued – TEG’s Adobe Proficiency Exam

Congratulations to Ernest Aragon of Albuquerque, and Rob Taylor of Alto, New Mexico, on completing the Earthbuilders’ Guild Adobe Proficiency Certification. The exams were held in Albuquerque, at New Mexico Earth Adobes, on a beautiful September day – we were very fortunate in the weather! Quentin Wilson acted as proctor.

TEG upheld the NM Dept of Health requirements re Covid-19 in multiple ways: Fewer than 5 people in attendance, both the written exam and the practicum were held outdoors, and participants were masked. Although this was awkward at times the steps were worth taking to protect all present, and will be kept in place for future exams until no longer needed.

The next exams will be in the Spring, once again in Albuquerque — visit TEG’s website for further information.

Helen Levine
TEG Board Member – Certification Committee



State of The Earthbuilders’ Guild
Accomplishments & Initiatives – 2020

Is it time to renew your membership?
Won’t you consider joining and supporting our efforts!
https://theearthbuildersguild.com/membership/

TEG has acted as a bridge between different regions and earthen specialties, building a community around our common interests in knowledge-sharing and the growth of the earthen construction market.
TEG’s accomplishments include extensive work with the New Mexico Construction Industries Division on codes pertaining to earthen construction. This includes a comprehensive adobe code as well as the first rammed earth and compressed earth block codes in the United States, and ongoing work with the New Mexico Historic Earthen Building Materials Code.
With Cornerstones Community Partnerships and Adobe in Action, TEG developed a curriculum and proficiency certification program for adobe construction, the first of its kind in the United States.
To provide consumers, contractors, suppliers and designers clear standards for appropriate practice, TEG established a Code of Ethics for those working within the earthen construction industry.
To increase the profile of earthen construction, TEG has conducted dozens of public tours of earthen buildings.
TEG has provided reoccurring financial support for Earth USA, the premier earthen design and preservation conference in the United States.
TEG has funded research and development programs to advance our understanding of earthen building performance. Grants have included monies to the Cob Research Institute, and a Colorado Earth initiative, both with the intention of better understanding energy performance and fire resistance of earthen wall systems.
Provided peer review and testified in support of the Cob Research Institute’s Monolithic Adobe (Cob) appendix to the International Residential Code.
Authored and obtained approval for new International Building Code provisions that now permit the use of clay plaster, lime plaster, and cement lime plaster, as well as introducing minimum finish permeability standards for wall finishes.
Created and maintained an extensive website with Earthen resources, contacts and news.  www.theearthbuildersguild.com
Held meetings every two months with an eight-member Board of Directors who represent a broad spectrum of individuals connected to the earthen industry whose commitment ranges from 11years to 3 years on the Board. We are now meeting via Zoom.
Collaborated with Vista Grande High School in Taos, New Mexico to educate and certify students in Basic Adobe Proficiency.
Facilitated communications between earth-associated nonprofit organizations that includes Adobe in Action, Mesilla Valley Preservation, Earthen Construction Initiative, and Cornerstones Community Partnerships.
Pat Martinez Rutherford – The Earthbuilders’ Guild

TEG Newsletter – Issue 10

 TEG Tours – A Look Back  

As with all aspects of our lives TEG is no exception, we are not able to continue gathering for our TEG Tours.  TEG Tours are held 5-6 times a year the same day we hold our Board meetings. 
We have incredible earthen buildings and homes throughout New Mexico.  Because we have not met in person since March, we are missing our TEG Tours.  Here’s a look back at the many places we have visited over the last nine years! All are located in New Mexico. Tours are arranged by TEG.  Consider joining TEG and being a part of discovering Earthen Buildings!  Follow us on Facebook for photos of the Tours.  We look forward to our future tours!
 
Wortley Hotel & Historical buildings, Lincoln
Chimayo Museum & Plaza del Cerro, Chimayo
The Armijo House, Las Cruces
Kit Carson Museum & Home, Taos
Casa San Ysidro, Corrales
Pat Taylor Restoration project, Mesilla
El Vado Motel, adobe restoration by Matt Pacheco, Albuquerque
Downey Rammed Earth home, walls by Mike Sims, Albuquerque
Taos Pueblo, Taos
Historical Tour of Hillsboro
Gutierrez-Hubble Home & Cultural Center, Albuquerque
Fechin House, Taos
San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe
Win DeLapp Adobe home project, Albuquerque
La Mesa Church, La Mesa
PERA Rammed Earth Building, Santa Fe
Classic New Mexico adobe home, Las Cruces
The Adobe Factory, Alcalde
Frenger House, Las Cruces
Matt Pacheco Home Restoration, Old Town, Albuquerque
Christo Rey Church, Santa Fe
Rutherford Home, Taos
Amador Hotel, Las Cruces
Adobe home of Mark & Betty Chalom, Abiquiu
New Mexico Earth Adobe Yard, Albuquerque
Adobe historic homes, J Paul Taylor Home, Mesilla
Adobe home of C.E. & Jan Laird, Albuquerque
Adobe home of Ernest & Dolores Aragon, Albuquerque
Adobe home & church of Vince & Mary Lou Chaves, Rodey
Martinez Hacienda, Taos
Adobe home of David & Midori Aragon, Albuquerque
Rammed earth home & Plants of the Southwest rammed earth, Albuquerque
Casa del Sol Construction, Danny Martinez, Adobe home, Albuquerque

Pat Martinez Rutherford – The Earthbuilders Guild


 An Update on Earthbuilding Activities in Germany

The adobe restoration project that I mentioned in TEG’s last newsletter is now complete. I shot a short project documentation video for the contractor which shows the modern equipment and construction techniques used by most earthbuilders in Germany. Examples of these modern techniques are: delivery of pre-blended plaster materials in construction grade bulk bags, the use of top-load pan mixers for high-volume plaster mixing, the use of plaster pumps to move the plaster mix to the upper floors of a building, the use of wood-fiber insulation boards for interior insulation of earthen walls, the use of plaster sprayers to apply earthen plasters to the walls. Trowel work still needs to be done by hand of course!

Even though the video is narrated in German, watch the above-mentioned techniques in action at https://youtu.be/bTxak16Bdiw.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member


An Update on Summer 2020 Adobe in Action Activities

Eleven students are currently working their way through Adobe in Action’s online Adobe Wall Construction class. The students just finished their midterm projects – making their own rough bucks, anchor blocks and story poles and braces out of scrap lumber. Some students used cardboard and paper to make small-scale models for midterms. Adobe in Action’s next online class – Roofs for Adobe Structures – begins on August 17th. We mainly focus on pitched roofs in this class to encourage the use of natural exterior plasters but flat roofs are also covered. More info can be found at https://www.adobeinaction.org/event-calender. In addition to our online classes, we continue to offer project support to four owner builders who have all completed our full adobe certificate and have begun working on their home builds. Finally, expect a new episode of our Mud Talks podcast series around the middle of August which will focus on the owner builder experience at Adobe in Action. All past podcasts can be found at https://www.adobeinaction.org/mud-talks.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member


New Book Chronicles San Diego’s Mid-Century Adobe Family

San Diego has perhaps the largest collection of adobe homes outside of New Mexico, many of which designed and built by the Weir Brothers. Rob Weir, grandson of the famous Weir Brothers construction family, has compiled a remarkable collection of anecdotes and photos from the Weir Brothers forty years of adobe construction. Built during a uniquely optimistic and prosperous time for the region, the homes combine western ranch house aesthetics with Southern California lifestyle preoccupations of the time – broad lawns, swimming pools, and wet bars. All are well documented in this book which was elegantly edited by Scott Hulet of Surfers Journal.
 
The book is available for purchase online.

Ben Loescher – TEG Board Member


 Adobe Certification Exam Rescheduled

The Earthbuilders’ Guild Adobe Proficiency Certification exam has been rescheduled to take place in Albuquerque on September 25-26, 2020.  The deadline to send in applications is September 15th.

TEG is adhering closely to guidelines and restrictions recommended by the New Mexico Department of Health and put in place by the NM state government—keep an eye on the TEG website for notice in the event further postponements become necessary.

The Adobe Proficiency Certification provides recognition of the applicant’s professional knowledge through a process of examination and review by adobe construction professionals.  The topics covered in the exam are extensive, encompassing aspects of modern construction: NM Earthen Building Codes and the permitting process, foundations, floors, wall construction, roof, insulation, finishes…and also include elements of adobe preservation and passive solar, among others. For more information go to https://theearthbuildersguild.com/teg-basic-adobe-proficiency-certification/. 

The benefits of obtaining Certification thru a recognized trade organization are many, from showing prospective clients or employers the level of skill and competency one has obtained in the field, to encouraging the professional development of others interested in adobe construction, and in providing an example of what it is to be an Adobe Builder.

Helen Levine – TEG Board Member


Colorado Earth – Thermal Conductivity Testing with CEB & Hemp

Colorado Earth has partnered with the University of Colorado at Boulder to test the performance of adding hemp fibers to the earth block mix.  After acquiring six different samples of hemp fiber, from very fine powder to coarser fiber, we are testing compressive strength and thermal conductivity to understand the properties of the hemp fiber in a compressed earth block.  More interestingly however will be the carbon storage capacity of including hemp, or other types of fiber, to the blocks.  The tests will indicate whether or not the addition of hemp fibers provides meaningful results to the wall system.  In addition to testing hemp and other fibers, Colorado Earth and the University are working towards a hemp fiber insulation panel or loose fill that will serve as an integral component to the wall section.  Deepening our understanding of local building resources will help provide a greater range of building products to the public.  

Lisa Morey – Owner of Colorado Earth


SCEB Research at Sandia National Laboratories (cont.)


Since my last report in November 2019, there have been many developments that have proven beyond a doubt that we are onto something quite positive.  The results of last year’s mechanical/structural testing, the outcome of which were hoped for in my last (Nov. 2019) newsletter article, were both extremely positive and extremely disappointing at the same time.  The test was a failure.  The goal was to test a small 3’ x 3’ x 1’ wall bonded together with our developed epoxy mix by exerting a side shear force that would increase until the wall failed, either through cracking or through bond failure.  As the wall was put under load, several things happened.  First, while the side force climbed up through 4,000lbs. of side load, the wall actually tilted to the side where the force was being applied.  Keep in mind that this small wall weighed around 1200lbs.  The Sandia engineers realized that they had not sufficiently anchored the wall to keep it from lifting up so they stopped the test, applied steel supports across the wall to anchor it, and restarted the test.  This time the force went up to over 7,500lbs., by which time the wall had started lifting up again but this time was bending the steel strapping across the top of the wall.  As the lifting continued, there was a very audible crack and the instruments showed that the force dropped by nearly ¾.  Something had failed and we quickly discovered that what failed was the hydrostone that was poured on top of the wall to anchor the pull rod, a high tensile piece of thick all-thread.  The test could not continue at this point so the engineers shut it down.  The test was a failure in that there was no conclusive demonstration of what point our approach would fail, rather the test setup failed.  On the optimistic side, the wall held together without any discernable problems through all of this including bending the steel support strapping (3/4’” x 3” bar stock) under a shear load of almost 4 tons!

While the results of the 2019 tests were inconclusive, the general outcome was enough to really get the interest of the Sandia engineers who went to bat for us for another round of funding for a very important ASTM E119 test.  This is the standard fire resistance test for wall structures that determine the wall system’s resistance to failure under a very rigorous heating (~1,800°F for up to 4 hours) and then water blast (simulating a fire department hosing) to see if the structure can withstand it without buckling or blowing through.   We asked for $120K for the test and were awarded $80K.  Not too bad and the Sandia engineers were optimistic that the test could be done for that amount.  We will be constructing a 9’ tall x 11’ long x 1’ thick wall, bracketed by upper and lower I-beams which will exert a simulated roof load on the wall while undergoing the heating and water blasting.  Part of this year’s project have been small scale testing to tease out any preliminary issues.  So far the tests have proven spectacularly successful, leading us to believe that we will pass the large scale test up to the level of commercial construction, which is much more rigorous time wise than the residential qualifying level.  The image of our small scale test reveals that our SCEBs held up under the full 4 hour burn time, with the bonding holding.  One very real benefit from this testing that we will be sharing with the earthen community is the detailed thermal conduction data.  It is incredibly informative and should add provide some extremely beneficial information to the energy justification for SCEBs.  The proposed wall build for the test is included.  More to follow as this project progresses.

John Jordan – TEG Board Member


The Old Mill – Ruidoso, New Mexico 

Since it was built in the late 1800s, “The Old Mill” as it is now known, has been a Ruidoso landmark. It is easy to identify, with the tall wooden water wheel and sluice box standing on the west side of the building.
In 2018, the mill suffered catastrophic damage in an explosion. The roof was blown off and the ensuing fire and suppression wreaked havoc on the un-stabilized adobe walls.
After sitting for some time, efforts are now underway to restore this icon of old Ruidoso. The local owners have enlisted Pat Taylor, a TEG member, to handle the reconstruction. Pat is one of the most knowledgeable people in the field of vintage adobe structures and their preservation. 
Reconstruction work began in June 2019 with the assessment of damage and the mitigation of further deterioration. Work progressed until October 2019, with the cooler weather shutting down operations for the year.
The project is now waiting for the warmer days of spring to resume work. Since the blocks and mortar of an adobe structure rely on the warmth of the sun to cure, a shorter season of work is available at Ruidoso’s altitude. Although given the warmer temperatures we are becoming accustomed to, it is not unusual to have a hard freeze as late as May. Even so, work should be able to resume by April 2020.
 
Post Script: This article was originally written in February 2020. Given the disruption of the past few months, no work has progressed. Pat has asked me to keep up with site maintenance. I will provide updates to the newsletter as work continues.
 
Rob Taylor, TEG Board Member
Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico

SFCC Adobe Classes – Spring 2021

ADOB 116 – Roof Design and Construction
Dates: January 18 to March 13, 2021 (8 weeks)
Format: Online
Course Description: Traditional Southwest designs of pitched and flat
roofs on adobe buildings. Topics cover roofing materials, structure, and
plans, including vigas, beams, joists rafters, trusses. Ceiling
materials, including latillas, rough boards, tongue-and-groove, are
discussed along with details such as insulation, deck sheathing, canales
and parapets. Two actual or mock-up roofs will be built.

ADOB 114 – Floor Design and Construction
Dates: March 22 to May 15, 2021 (8 weeks)
Format: Online
Course Description: Traditional and modern Southwest floors and floor
coverings. Topics include mud, brick, stone, concrete, tile, wood and
sheet-goods flooring materials and applications. Students will design
and build floor mock-ups. Suspended floors over crawl spaces or
basements are covered as well as the sizing of joists and deck
materials. Radiant floor heating systems are also discussed.

ADOB 115 – Finish Practices
Dates: March 22 to May 15, 2021 (8 weeks)
Format: Online
Course Description: Traditional and modern finishes used in the building
of the exteriors and interiors of buildings of the Southwest. Topics
include treatments of exposed adobe bricks; mud plaster by hand and
trowel; plasters made with stabilized mud, lime, gypsum, cement and
elastomerics. Wall insulation, vapor barriers, moisture protection, and
the lath systems will be examined. The treatment of vigas, posts,
corbels, exposed lintels and wood trim are also covered.

Full details about the Adobe Program at SFCC can be found at
https://www.sfcc.edu/programs/adobe-construction/ or contact adjunct
faculty member Kurt Gardella at kurt.gardella@sfcc.edu.

 

Adobe Classes – Fall 2020

ADOB 111 – Adobe Construction Basics
Dates: 8/24 to 10/17/2020 (8 weeks)
Format: Online
Course Description: History and overview of adobe construction
techniques. Topics include monumental structures and settlements
throughout the world and adobe practices that meet modern building
codes. Students will examine construction and design techniques from
foundation to roof. Students will make adobe bricks, build walls and
construct other building components.

ADOB 112 – Adobe Wall Construction
Dates: 10/19 to 12/12/2020 (8 weeks)
Format: Online
Course Description: An introduction to exterior and interior adobe wall
construction techniques. Students will learn the requirements for wall
thickness, height and foundation construction based on the New Mexico
Earthen Building Code. Topics include the installation of windows and
doors and lintels over openings, the construction of bond beams at the
top of walls, methods for the attachment of roof structural members and
design and construction of buttresses and arches.

ADOB 113 – Passive Solar Adobe Design
Dates: 10/19 to 12/12/2020 (8 weeks)
Format: Online
Course Description: The integration of passive solar heating systems
into the design of adobe homes. Topics include direct gain systems,
Trombe Wall (indirect gain) systems and greenhouses/sunspaces. Students
will learn the advantages and disadvantages of each system in order to
choose among them for use in different parts of a house or commercial
structure. Students will calculate the proper sizing of systems as well
as auxiliary back-up systems.

Full details about the Adobe Program at SFCC can be found at
https://www.sfcc.edu/programs/adobe-construction/ or contact adjunct
faculty member Kurt Gardella at kurt.gardella@sfcc.edu.

TEG Newsletter – Issue #9

TEG Tour – March 2020  

Chimayo, New Mexico was the sight of The Earthbuilders’ Guild’s last TEG Tour.  The Plaza del Cerro in Chimayo (located 30 minutes north of Santa Fe) is the most intact 18th century defensive plaza in New Mexico, a treasure of New Mexico history.  Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the Plaza del Cerro consists of 33 properties with 22 separate owners.  Some plaza buildings are in ruins, some stand but are vacant and a few are fully restored.  Andrew Ortega, local weaver, whose family goes back several generations, was our guide along with Jake Barrow from Cornerstones.  Cornerstones has been restoring the ruins of the Casita Desiderio y Pablita Ortega.  As well, we were treated to a tour of the wonderful Chimayo museum, a rich collection of artifacts, stories and photographs of the Chimayo area.
 
For further information here are two links: 
https://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/NM-01-049-0090
https://www.cstones.org/current-projects/2018/3/8/casita-de-martina-plaza-del-cerro-chimayo-new-mexico
 
For current information on future TEG tours follow us on Facebook, check our website or feel free to contact us:  theearthbuildersbuild@gmail.com 
The Tours are a special look at some extraordinary earthen properties around New Mexico.  Given the circumstances of our lives right now, the tours for the rest of 2020 have yet to be determined. 

Pat Martinez Rutherford – TEG Board Member
 

 

Adobe Certification Exam Rescheduled

The Earthbuilders’ Guild Adobe Proficiency Certification exam has been rescheduled to take place in Albuquerque on September 25-26, 2020.  The deadline to send in applications is September 15th.

TEG is adhering closely to guidelines and restrictions recommended by the New Mexico Department of Health and put in place by the NM state government—keep an eye on the TEG website for notice in the event further postponements become necessary.

The Adobe Proficiency Certification provides recognition of the applicant’s professional knowledge through a process of examination and review by adobe construction professionals.  The topics covered in the exam are extensive, encompassing aspects of modern construction: NM Earthen Building Codes and the permitting process, foundations, floors, wall construction, roof, insulation, finishes…and also include elements of adobe preservation and passive solar, among others. For more information go to https://theearthbuildersguild.com/teg-basic-adobe-proficiency-certification/

The benefits of obtaining Certification thru a recognized trade organization are many, from showing prospective clients or employers the level of skill and competency one has obtained in the field, to encouraging the professional development of others interested in adobe construction, and in providing an example of what it is to be an Adobe Builder.

Helen Levine,  TEG Board Member

 

 

 An Update on Earthbuilding Activities in Germany

Image Left: The wood fiber insulation boards are coated with a thin layer of earthen mortar before they are pressed up against the wall.

Image Right: Long, capped screws are used to attach the wood fiber insulation boards to the wall. Each panel gets 4-5 screws. They are usually finished with a 2-coat earthen plaster.
 I am currently assisting with an adobe restoration project in Germany and wanted to use it as an opportunity to speak about the many natural insulation material options that are available here. This current project is using wood fiber insulation boards that are 40cm thick. The boards are being attached on the interior side of the wall (half-timber framing with earthen block infill) since we are not allowed to make any changes to the the exterior facade of this registered building. Along with other natural insulation panel alternatives (such as reed or straw panels), the wood fiber insulation boards are a good match for earthen walls as they maintain vapor permeability throughout the entire thickness of the wall. Wood fiber insulation boards are especially easy to work with. They can be cut with a jigsaw and attached to the wall using long, capped screws or a special anchor and pin system. It is also very easy to get a 2-coat earthen plaster to adhere to them. We continue to wait for a US producer to begin making and selling these types of sustainable insulation panels on the US market. They would be a great addition to our adobe wall systems.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member

 

 

An Update on Spring 2020 Adobe in Action Activities

In spite of the current Covid-19 crisis, Adobe in Action has managed to keep its activities going since most of our offerings made the transition to the online format many years ago. Another year of online adobe construction classes began in early January at Adobe in Action. Nine students are currently working their way through the current History & Basics of Adobe Construction class. The students just finished their midterm projects – evaluating their local soils, making a 2-brick adobe form and a 1/2″ soil screen. We will be making our first test bricks in the coming weeks. Adobe in Action’s next online class – Foundations for Adobe Structures – begins on May 11th. This is a great class to begin the program with since every successful adobe project begins with a sound foundation. More info can be found at https://www.adobeinaction.org/event-calender/. In addition to our online classes, we are offering project support to four owner builders who have all completed our full adobe certificate and have begun working on their home builds. Most of this support work is carried out via an online project management system but some site visits and student workshops will be planned as well. Support for the owner builders we have been working with in the Silver City area has wrapped up but you can still follow their project athttps://visioncreationadobe.com/. Finally, we are back on track with our Mud Talks podcast series after an extended break. The latest episode deals with Interior & Exterior Plastering. All of the podcasts can be found athttps://www.adobeinaction.org/mud-talks.

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member

 

 

Update from Colorado Earth – CEB Production

Production is underway at Colorado Earth utilizing a new line of equipment from Ital-Mexicana, a manufacturing company based in Mexico City.  The TerraPress 2400 produces 6″x12″ blocks with or without holies. 
We are excited about the opportunity in Colorado to produce CEB at scale for the health of our planet and those that live here!  We will soon be experimenting with the addition of hemp fiber in our blocks. 
For more information, please visit www.coloradoearth.com

Lisa Morey, TEG member 

 

 

Adobe Farmhouse Renovation

TEG member, Wayne Rutherford’s company recently completed the restoration of this treasure.  The three-room core of this adobe farmhouse was built in the 1940’s by a dairy farm owner and added onto over the course of the next thirty years. Like many rural homes a significant amount of work was required to open up a number of the smaller rooms into more usable spaces, create better daylighting, and improve traffic flow from room to room.

The owner-builder was an enthusiastic woodworker; the home had hand-carved trim inside and out. We left most of the woodwork intact during this 9 month, whole-house, all-systems remodel. The trim that we had to remove often had notes written in carpenter’s pencil on the back side commenting on the weather, the owner’s faith, and the affairs of the day. The fret-work eave trim was repurposed onto the top of the kitchen wall cabinets.

TEG members, you are welcome to submit a short article along with a picture for the next TEG eNewsletter.  Show us your work! 

Wayne Rutherford, TEG Member 

 

 

TEG Honorary Lifetime Member – Jim Hallock

The Earthbuilder’s Guild Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the Honorary Lifetime Membership award for 2020 has been given to Jim Hallock.  The Board wishes to thank Michael Neumann, Executive Director of Partners in Progress, for nominating Jim and we are genuinely grateful for the submission.  It is our hope that TEG will always have the privilege of being able to honor and recognize those among us earthen practitioners who have been instrumental in moving earthen construction forward, especially when done with heart, mind, and spirit.  We especially want to thank Jim for graciously accepting the award in the spirit with which it is given, as an acknowledgment that his peers see him as one that has given immeasurable benefit to all of us in countless ways.
For those who are reading this and do not know Jim, there are some things that you indeed should know, some of which I will borrow from Michael’s letter.  First, know that Jim is both a role model and, using the appropriate word, a hero to many in the earthen industry.  He has worked tirelessly over decades to bring life and energy to the earthen construction industry and has mentored and guided countless aspiring earthen devotees both in the United States and around the world.  His passion and vision have been an inspiration to earthen practitioners to both young and old, newbie and experienced.
As Michael put it “I know of no one who has done more to improve our understanding and use of earthen construction, to make earthen construction accessible to the communities that need it most, and to educate and inspire the younger tradespeople and professionals who will be carrying this work forward for generations to come.  It is perhaps Jim’s compassion and kindness for others, especially, the disenfranchised and marginalized, though, which inspires me the most. He has invested countless hours and resources creating opportunities for earthen construction in Indigenous and other resource poor communities from the U.S. and Mexico to the Caribbean and Africa. He understands the power of an accessible technology like earthen construction to create a more just and equitable world. In Haiti, one of the poorest countries on earth, he is helping to raise building standards, while working to advance SCEB as an affordable, safe, and healthy building solution in communities there. I am aware of SCEB projects completed or in various stages of planning and implementation in nine communities across three departments in Haiti. Before Jim arrived in Haiti, there were none.”
Jim is indeed worthy of this award, TEG’s highest recognition of contribution to the earthen arts.  We are humbled by his actions and his integrity and look forward to many more years of his contributions to TEG, to the earthen industry, and to the world

John Jordan – TEG Board Member

TEG Newsletter – Issue #8

We have news for you!

 Earthen Legends  

The Earthbuilders’ Guild announces the Earthen Legends page on the TEG website to recognize those who have gone before and inspired the rest of us through their knowledge, experience and generosity of spirit.  Members are encouraged to nominate deceased candidates for this honor with a brief biography that encapsulates how the nominee fulfills any of the following criteria –Showed significant influence within their particular realm to advance and promote the use of earthen materials.  Profession must have been in the field of earthen construction – building homes, commercial building, adobe, SCEB or manufacturing of materials/products used in earthen construction, rammed earth.
– or -In the field of education – teaching earthen construction or author on the subject of earthen buildings/materials/architecture.  Architects, engineers and designers of earthen construction are eligible as well.
 
Submissions will be assessed by the Board of TEG on a case by case basis for inclusion on this page.  Please include a photograph with the submission. 

Jane Whitmire – The Earthbuilders Guild

TEG Tour – January 2020

January’s Tour took us back to builder Danny Martinez’s adobe home under construction.  His company, Casa del Sol Construction, has been building the home in Albuquerque for several months.  The walls are just about ready for plaster.  
 
TEG Tours are a bi-monthly event hosted by TEG.  Visit our website for details on the next Tour.  We visit new construction, historic preservation projects and interesting architectural buildings.  

Pat Martinez Rutherford

An Update on Earthbuilding Activities in Germany

In addition to being a TEG member, I am also a member of the Dachverband Lehm (German Earthbuilding Association) and follow their activities closely. Below is an overview of recent news that was reported to DVL members at the end of 2019:Thin coatings (earthen paints) now make up a large part of earthen product sales in Germany. These earthen paints are readily available and can be purchased at nationwide hardware stores.
Earthen plasters are now considered “normal” in Germany. More architects and planners are willing to use earthen plasters in their projects because the earthen plaster DIN standard (DIN 18947:2018-12) gives them the assurances they need that a high level of quality will be obtained. (Note: DIN Standards are the equivalent of the ASTM Standards in the USA).
Earthen plasters are now also listed in the standard (conventional) plaster DIN in Germany. This is a big step since it raises earthen plasters to the same level as cement, lime and gypsum plasters on a national level.
Earthen drywall panels have become a big seller in Germany and now also have their own DIN standard (DIN 18948:2018-12).
There has been a recent push in Germany to develop EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) for earthen building products. The goal of these EPDs is the quantification of the sustainability of earthen building products. EPDs will be required for all building products in the near future in Germany so it is essential that this work is also carried out for earthen building products. See https://www.oekobaudat.de/en.html for more information about EPDs in Germany.
The Dachverband Lehm is holding its next earthbuilding conference -LEHM 2020 – from October 30 to November 1, 2020 in Weimar, Germany. The conference is bi-lingual (simultaneous German to English translation will be provided). More information can be found at:https://www.dachverband-lehm.de/lehm2020/conference

Kurt Gardella – TEG Board Member

Update from Colorado Earth – CEB Machinery from Mexico arrives Golden

Colorado Earth has forged a relationship with Ital-Mexicana, a manufacturing company based in Mexico City that produces compressed earth block machinery.  A new line of equipment has arrived in Golden, Colorado at the Colorado Earth site.  Soon the facility will have the capacity to produce 3,000 6″x12″ blocks per day.  For more information, please visit www.coloradoearth.com

Lisa Morey

Earthen Code Proposals Approved by the ICC

After more than a year of drafting, testimony and negotiation, two important code change proposals were approved in late December as part of the ICC’s Online Governmental Consensus Voting. The Cob Research Institute’sAppendix to the IRC provides building code guidance for the design and construction of cob residential buildings for the first time in the United States; a TEG sponsored proposal was also approved which prescribes vapor permeability requirements for earthen buildings, and introduces exterior clay plaster, lime plaster, and lime-cement plaster into the code for the first time. These new code provisions will appear in the 2021 I-codes. These proposals were the result of hundreds of hours of donated services and funding provided by the CRI and TEG and represents further evidence that earthen building is being recognized and respected within the national code organizations.

Ben Loescher

Adobe Certification Exam – May 2020

Don’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in adobe construction to your clients! 

The Earthbuilders’ Guild is offering the Adobe Proficiency Certification exam this coming May 15-16 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  There are still a few slots open for those interested.

For more information and the application form check the TEG website:

www.theearthbuildersguild.com

or email us at theearthbuildersguild@gmail.com.

Helen Levine

TEG Board of Directors Position Open

The Board has an opening available for a seat on the Board of Directors.  As taken from our Bylaws this is the information about the position.  We meet 6 times a year in various locations in New Mexico- primarily Albuquerque.  The position provides for many opportunities to network, keep informed, visit Earth building sites, and work with committed industry professionals.  Please submit your qualifications and a letter of interest to theearthbuildersguild.com.  If you have any questions, please ask.  We would welcome your participation. 

Helen Levine

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 10, 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 10th 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 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.