Earth USA 2011

The Sixth Conference

Date: September 30, October 1 and 2, 2011
Location: National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM
Organizer: Adobe in Action

Conference Wrap

One hundred twenty participants came from fourteen countries and presented papers on various aspects of earthen construction. At the conclusion of the Conference participants worked collectively to prepare this message summarizing information, opinions and conclusions:

Earthen materials are globally available. Usually it is the dry climates that are brought to mind Adobe, Cob, Sod, Rammed Earth and Compressed Earth Blocks. However new locations for earthen buildings are always being reported. This year the surprise came from Norway where historical adobe homes are located near Oslo. Other reports came from China, Bulgaria, England, Oklahoma and Texas. Often these reports are of a few, isolated instances of earthen buildings. Germany, however, has long been known to have at least two million earthen homes.

Earthen homes are appropriate across the spectrum of building costs. Homes are built at zero cost in some countries while in places like New Mexico and Saudi Arabia contemporary adobe is considered the premium building material for homes and monumental buildings. Several papers at the Conference dealt with innovations that can reduce building costs in those areas where labor is expensive. In other parts of the world, labor is less expensive and employment is a sought after opportunity for citizens. Working with earth can create new jobs for young and old. It is richly inter-generational and educational in nature.

Material costs are not tied closely to the petrochemical industry. In New Mexico, the cost of an adobe brick has doubled in thirty years while the cost of a 2 x 4 wood stud for frame construction has increased five-fold in the same period.

It must always be remembered that of all building materials, those of earth have the least embodied energy; their carbon footprint can be almost zero; and they are the most easily recycled, reused, re-purposed or just plain returned to dust. Brown is the original green, the original back to nature.

Other authors reported on the efforts to codify the use of earthen materials in construction: There is much collaborative effort across the globe which also includes educating code writers and enforcers. Germans lead the way with thoroughly embedded building construction norms in their national codes which will soon be inserted into the European Union standards. Australia, New Zealand and the United States follow right behind. In the USA, adobe is now part of the 2009 International Building Code beginning with 2102.1 where it is defined. There is also The American Society for Testing Materials ASTM E2392, Standard Guide for Design of Earthen Wall Building Systems. Adobe is included in the Construction Specifications Institute system as 04 24 00, Adobe Unit Masonry with two subcategories, 04 24 13 Site Cast and 04 24 16 Manufactured. This means that earthen materials are now mainstreamed in the eyes of codes and standards.

Participants noted that earthen materials have cultural connotations. They are simply part of the lives of many cultures. While abandoned in many areas, there is a growing interest on the part of youth. New communities using earth as the basic building material are being created in Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Most of the world requires great effort on the part of proponents of earth materials to preserve buildings from destruction in the face of modern development. Saudi Arabia has banned the further destruction of any earthen buildings of antiquity as a fine example to the rest of the world.

Architects, builders and dwellers have long had spiritual connections with the material and there are those who feel it creates living structures, certainly healthy structures without any of the chemicals often found in the modern home. The walls stabilize temperature and humidity through their thermal mass and porosity which promotes breathability and even phase change action as moisture moves in and out of walls.

Earthquake resistance is always a concern. Correct and careful building techniques go a long way to make any building safer. Age-old and new techniques can be incorporated in the design or retrofit to existing structures to increase their safety. Earthen structures are adept at resisting cyclones, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, bugs and even bullets.

While all this is as old as dirt, it is as new as the next idea. Architects, designers and youth should be encouraged to create new shapes, forms and methods to create structures of wider appeal to more people. It need not be limited to the warm, round, brown buildings often brought to mind by the Santa Fe/Taos/Pueblo style; thoughtful, good design can increase its appeal while still maintaining timelessness.

After all, this is Planet Earth.

Quentin Wilson, October 2011, New Mexico/USA

About Earth USA 2011

Earth USA 2011 was the Sixth International Earthbuilding Conference initiated by Earth USA (emerging from the Adobe Association of the Southwest). The conference organizer was Adobe in Action.

The conference took place September 30, October 1 and 2, 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico - USA. The conference was held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center which is an official partner of the event.

Earth USA 2011 indicated a wider field of interest than previous conferences and will include adobe, rammed earth, compressed earth block: CEB, and monolithic adobe: cob. Any material or method that uses clay as a binder is considered.

Paper Subject Categories

  1. Historic buildings and cities including their stabilization, preservation and conservation

  2. Education and information transfer including codes, norms and regulations

  3. Physical and thermal properties of materials and structures including seismic, flood and storm resistance

  4. Construction methods

  5. New architecture and construction projects including renovation, modernization and re-purposing of existing buildings

  6. Poster session

Earth USA 2011 - Activities

  • Earth USA 2011 organized a two-day trade fair which coincided with the first two presentation days of the conference - Friday, September 30, Saturday and October 1, 2011.

  • Two tours to local earthbuilding sites were available on Monday, Oct. 3 and Tuesday Oct. 4.

  • Pre-conference earthbuilding workshops were planned throughout the month of September and included topics such as adobe construction basics and adobe wall construction with a special focus on New Mexican adobe practices. Additional post-conference workshops on more advanced topics such as arch, vault and dome construction and rammed earth were held after the conference throughout the month of October.

Earth USA 2011 - Sponsors

Adobe Alliance
AECT Compressed Earth Block
EarthCo Building Systems
The Earthbuilders Guild
Home Creations
Ideal Homes
Lafarge Concrete
NNMC Adobe Department
OU College of Architecture

Earth USA 2011 - Conference Schedule

Thursday, September 29, 2011

5:00 - 8:00 PM

Friday, September 30, 2011

  • 7:30 - 8:30 AM

  • 8:30 - 9:15 AM

  • 9:15 - 10:00 AM
    Author: Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud - Saudi Arabia
    Title: Mud Buildings in Saudi Arabia - A Private Experience

  • 10:00 - 10:30 AM
    Authors: Jake Barrow, Program Director, CCP – New Mexico, USA
    Robin Jones, Executive Director, CCP – New Mexico, USA
    Title: Preserving Adobe Heritage: Cornerstones Community Partnerships at Twenty Five Years

  • 10:30 - 11:00 AM

  • 11:00 - 11:30 AM
    Authors: María Rinaldi, Director of Planning and Capital Programs, Town of Bernalillo – New Mexico, USA
    Francisco Uviña, Preservation Consultant – New Mexico, USA
    Title: Conservation, preservation and rehabilitation of earthen architecture as a youth development program

  • 11:30 - 12:00 PM
    Authors: Horst Schroeder; Bauhaus University (BUW), Weimar, GermanyUrs Müller; Federal Institute for Materials Research & Testing (BAM), Berlin, Germany
    Christof Ziegert; Ziegert / Roswag / Seiler Architekten Ingenieure, Berlin, Germany / DVL
    Title: Building codes and standards in earth building – Current situation in Germany

  • 12:00 - 12:30 PM
    Author: Hauke Haupts, Architect - Trondheim, Norway
    Title: The Workman Houses at Koengen in Oslo

  • 12:30 - 2:00 PM

  • 2:00 - 2:30 PM
    Author: Dra. en Arq. Yolanda Gpe. Aranda Jiménez, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas - Mexico
    Title: Poured Earth/Tierra vertida

  • 2:30 - 3:00 PM
    Authors: Dr. Rubén Salvador Roux Gutiérrez, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas - Mexico
    Dr. Luis Fernando Guerrero Baca, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco - Mexico
    Title: Resistencia a la humedad de bloques de tierra comprimida estabilizados con cemento y con cal

  • 3:00 - 3:30 PM
    Authors: Dr. Pablo David Elías López - Mexico (Victor Garcia)
    Dr. Rubén Salvador Roux Gutiérez - Mexico
    Title: Perfil térmico de una vivienda de bloques de tierra comprimida (BTC) en clima cálido humedo.

  • 3:30 - 4:00 PM
    Author: Arq Lucia Esperanza Garzon - Colombia
    Title: Una obra de arquitectura con tierra contemporanea en Colombia

  • 4:00 - 4:30 PM
    Authors: Magdalena Pereira, directora Fundación Altiplano MSV - Chile
    Cristián Heinsen, director ejecutivo Fundación Altiplano MSV - Chile
    Title: Plan de restauración del conjunto patrimonial de iglesias andinas de Arica y Parinacota. Modelo de desarrollo sostenible

  • 4:30 - 5:00 PM

  • 5:00 - 5:30 PM
    Demonstrations & Poster Sessions

  • 5:30 - 6:00 PM
    Authors: Eng. Bader Aleyadah - Saudi Arabia
    GM, Turathiyah Company - Saudi Arabia
    Title: The Ahmad Bin Salman Mosque by Compressed Mud Bricks

  • 6:00 - 6:30 PM
    Author: Charles W. Graham, Ph.D., AIA, FRICS – Oklahoma, USA
    Title: Moisture Management in Compressed Earth Block Walls

  • 6:45 - 8:45 PM

Saturday, October 1, 2011

  • 7:30 - 8:30 AM

  • 8:30 - 9:00 AM
    Authors: Márcio Buson - Brazil
    Humberto Varum - Brazil
    Rosa Maria Sposto - Brazil
    Title: Incorporation of paper fibers from cement sacks recycling in the production of compressed earth blocks

  • 9:00 - 9:30 AM
    Authors: Daniel Butko, Assistant Professor COA – The University of Oklahoma, Department of Architecture - Oklahoma, USA
    Lisa Holliday, Assistant Professor COA – The University of Oklahoma, Department of Construction Science - Oklahoma, USA
    Matthew Reyes, PhD Candidate COA – The University of Oklahoma, Department of Construction Science - Oklahoma, USA
    Title: Student Research with Compressed Earth Blocks - The University of Oklahoma

  • 9:30 - 10:00 AM
    Authors: Bill Druc, P.E. - New Mexico, USA
    Arnold Valdez, Historic Preservation Specialist - New Mexico, USA
    Title: The Story of the Investigation and Restoration Plan for the San Antonio de Padua Catholic Church, Questa, New Mexico

  • 10:00 - 10:30 AM
    Author: Troy Lovata, Ph.D. - New Mexico, USA
    Title: Adobe Isn’t Just for Adoberos: Adobe as Part of a Non-Foundational University Curriculum

  • 10:30 - 11:00 AM

  • 11:00 - 11:30 AM
    Authors: Lisa Holliday, Assistant Professor, Construction Science Division, College of Architecture, University of Oklahoma - USA
    Charles Graham, Dean and Professor, College of Architecture, University of Oklahoma - USA
    Title: Foundation Systems for Earthen Building

  • 11:30 - 12:00 PM
    Author: Georgi Georgiev, architect - Bulgaria
    Title: Earthen Architecture in Bulgaria

  • 12:00 - 12:30 PM
    Author: Patti Stouter - New York, USA
    Title: Why Haitians Want High-tech Low-skill Earthbags

  • 12:30 - 2:00 PM

  • 2:00 - 2:30 PM
    Authors: Yassar Khadour - China
    Bin Zhang - China
    Title: A Conceptual Design of Rural Earth Habitat Prototype

  • 2:30 - 3:00 PM
    Authors: Bill McManus (Associate Professor, OU College of Architecture, Construction Science) - Oklahoma, USA
    Daniel Butko (Assistant Professor OU College of Architecture, Architecture) - Oklahoma, USA
    Matthew Reyes (Ph.D. Candidate, OU College of Architecture, Construction Science) - Oklahoma, USA
    Title: Does CEB stack up for US Habitat for Humanity Affiliates?

  • 3:00 - 3:30 PM
    Authors: Rongrong Hu – China
    Jiaping Liu – China
    Title: Sustainable development of traditional earth houses in China

  • 3:30 - 4:00 PM
    Authors: Horst Schroeder; Bauhaus University (BUW), Weimar, Germany / DVL
    Ulrich Röhlen; Fa. CLAYTEC e.K. Viersen, Germany / DVL
    Stephan Jörchel; Ingenieurbüro S. Jörchel, Weimar, Germany / DVL
    Title: Sustainable Education in Earth Building – Experiences of the Dachverband Lehm e.V. (DVL), Germany

  • 4:00 - 4:30 PM

  • 4:30 - 5:00 PM
    Author: Fred Webster, Ph.D., P.E. - California, USA
    Title: Simple and Effective Seismic Retrofit Techniques for Earthen Masonry Buildings

  • 5:00 - 5:30 PM
    Author: Derrick Tate, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Texas Tech University - Texas, USA
    Title: Developing Large-Scale Compressed Earth Block (CEB) Building Systems: Strategies for Entrepreneurial Innovations

  • 5:30 - 6:00 PM
    Author: Simone Swan (Adobe Alliance) – New Mexico/Texas, USA
    Title: Adobe Alliance’s Recent Trip to Yemen

Sunday, October 2, 2011

  • 7:30 - 8:30 AM

  • 8:30 - 9:00 AM
    Authors: Charles Bransby Zachary, GB Geotechnics USA Inc - New York, USA
    Avigail A. Charnov, GB Geotechnics USA Inc - Los Angeles, USA
    Title: New uses of NDE techniques including Surface Penetrating Radar (SPR) and Infrared Thermography (IRT) for the Investigation of Adobe structures

  • 9:00 - 9:30 AM
    Authors: John J Morony - Texas, USA
    Clancy E. Hall, Jr., P.E. - Texas, USA
    Title: The Dual Footed Foundation; an Alternative to the Slab-on-Grade

  • 9:30 - 10:00 AM
    Author: K. Ben Loescher, AIA LEED AP – California, USA
    Title: Assessing Adobe in California: Barriers and Opportunities

  • 10:00 - 10:30 AM
    Authors: Liana Sanchez,Owner/CEO, Avanyu General Contracting - New Mexico, USA
    Mateo Peixinho, Owner/COO, Avanyu General Contracting - New Mexico, USA
    Pat Taylor, Historic Adobe Preservation, Avanyu General Contracting - New Mexico, USA
    Title: Honoring our past, Preserving our future; Owe’neh Bupingeh Rehabilitation Project, Ohkay Owingeh, formerly San Juan Pueblo

  • 10:30 - 11:00 AM

  • 11:00 - 11:30 AM
    Author: Larry Williamson - Texas, USA
    Title: Mechanizing Earthen Construction --- The EarthCo Megablock process

  • 11:30 - 12:30 PM

  • 12:30 - 2:00 PM