You know the 3 little pigs? Of course two of the pigs built homes out of straw and sticks and we know how that turned out. (Yes, the big bad wolf blew them over because they weren't well made... but over time they would have deteriorated, been infested with bugs, collected mold, and possibly even burned down anyway).
As we all know, the 3rd little pig built his house out of bricks - and we like to think they were stabilized compressed earth blocks made of a specific mixture of sand, dirt and clay. Lucky for THIS pig, his house was fire resistant, mold resistant, insect resistant and more...plus green, green, green with great energy efficiency naturally built in - reducing heating and cooling costs and making for a happy pig.
So what's the point? Dirt is in. Simply put, it's sustainable, energy efficient and the most widely available and inexhaustible building material on the planet.
Alternivest driven engineered earthen construction projects are a cornerstone of our development work, helping us to deliver high performance real estate projects in a truly cost-effective and sustainable manner. These projects are driven through our design/build affiliate Urban Earth.
COST AND ENERGY-EFFICIENT
An important benefit of earthen buildings is the significant energy savings that will accrue to the owner over the life of the building. The thermal mass of an earthen wall, with its capacity to store and transfer heat, results in a reduced reliance on active heating and cooling systems and a more comfortable living environment. Energy efficiency can also be realized in the manufacturing of the building material itself. Earthen construction units can be made on-site, saving in transportation costs and fuel consumption and consuming little energy in the construction process.
FIRE AND PEST-RESISTANT
Many regions of the world are experiencing drought conditions resulting in destructive wildfires. Thousands of homes in the U.S. west alone have been lost to wildfires over the last few years. Why not build with a fire proof building material? Earthen buildings are fire, sound, termite, rodent, and bullet proof, and highly mold-resistant as well. What better way to build than with a material that resists the ravages of Mother Nature without contributing to her degradation?
The density of an earthen wall insulates the occupants from the outside world. Sound recording studios have been built with pressed block for that very reason. Earthen buildings create their own quiet and comfortable interior environment, always appreciated by the inhabitants.
Earthen masonry walls are a completely non-toxic building material, composed of the most basic of ingredients conducive to healthy people and a healthy planet. In contrast, conventional construction often trap and emit toxic chemicals and gases into the environment. Earth is a frequently chosen material by those suffering from chemical sensitivity.
The oldest structures standing throughout the world today are made of earth, a testimony to the durability of earthen construction. The oldest continuously-occupied buildings in North America are the Taos Pueblos in New Mexico…hand-made adobes…1000 years.
USES AVAILABLE AND ABUNDANT RAW MATERIALS
There are five ingredients used for great earthen buildings: sand, clay, a small amount of aggregate, and water, combined with a small percentage of lime or Portland cement as a stabilizer. Simple.
An advantage of a mobile CEB Machine is the ability to manufacture Earth Blocks on-site, eliminating transportation costs to the owner and lowering the embodied energy in the building. Rammed earth is equally efficient with on-site manufacturing.
One cannot consider the attributes of earthen buildings without recognizing the enormous implications for our environment. From the manufacturing of the wall itself to the finished product, earthen construction not only benefits the individual but the planet as a whole in three key building performance areas: energy, carbon footprint and waste.
Although earthen buildings can be built to any architectural style, many who choose this material prefer the look and simplicity of the earthen material itself. Exteriors on CEB buildings typically are given a weather-resistant skin, which can be colored or left natural. Interiors are plastered with a variety of natural mixtures or left exposed. Rammed earth structures are left exposed both interior and exterior. Arches and rounded corners are options that allow for flexibility in design, with a look and feel that envelop occupants and blend beautifully with the natural materials.