Sunday, April 18, 2004

Environmentally Friendly Building Techniques: Earthbags

The earthbag concept is quite simple. The concept is the same as the "sandbag", except the earthbag is filled with a mixture of soil and sand. Some techniques also use cement in the mixture, while others cover the earthbags with a layer of stucco to increase strength. Strands of barbed wire are often used (internally) to keep the layers of earthbags aligned. Rebar can also be added to the earthbag walls to increase rigidity.

The earthbag concept is also called Superadobe and is being considered by NASA for use on the Mars or Moon according to the post.

You can read more about earthbags in this post from Green Home Building.com. They also have information on a variety of sustainable building styles.

This construction technique requires no heavy equipment and is very fast compared to other home construction techniques. This makes it ideal in places where labor is cheap and high energy embodiment building materials are expensive.

High energy embodiment materials are those that require a great deal of energy to produce and must be transported to the site over long distances, including materials such as steel, gypsum board (drywall) and lumber.

Earthbag construction uses materials excavated from the building site to construct the building, thus eliminating most transport costs (and related pollution).

Here's a book on Amazon about earthbag construction as well.

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