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.

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.

San Diego Adobe Home Tour

Romance of the Rancho is the theme for the Ninth Annual San Diego Adobe Home Tour. The 2020 tour celebrates the rich Spanish-Mexican rancho heritage by opening the doors to four beautiful adobe homes and properties in Rancho Santa Fe and Escondido. The tour will showcase the 1831-built Osuna adobe ranch. It also features the home and gardens of a 1926-built home overlooking Lake Hodges that was featured in the October 2019 edition of San Diego Home/Garden.
The San Diego Adobe Home tour is a project of the San Diego Adobe Heritage Association, whose mission is to inspire the appreciation and understanding of adobe heritage.
Date: March 22, 2020, 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $30
Tickets: Available for the Adobe Home Tour website http://adobehometour.com or from the Escondido History Center, 321 N Broadway, Escondido, 92025, http://escondidohistory.org
Where: Ticket holders will pick up their program on the day of the tour at one of two ticket locations at Kit Carson Park or Rancho Santa Fe Community Center.
Proceeds: Proceeds from the tour benefit the Escondido History Center
For More Information: Visit the website at http://adobehometour.com
Please help us publicize this tour on your website and/or newsletter. Attached is a press release and digital poster. Photos are available upon request.
Valorie McClelland
Volunteer, Adobe Heritage Association