Energy Performance of Earthen Walls

Housing is a major public health issue. The United Nations once estimated that 10 million people worldwide die each year from conditions related to substandard housing. Our Team intends to address this construction issue by validating a durable, economically and environmentally sustainable wall system that can be utilized in greater capacity today.

Earthen walls have proven themselves capable, having already provided safe and comfortable shelter for thousands of years. These homes, when properly built for the climate and environmental hazards, address the need to manage moisture risk, conserve energy consumption, while minimizing maintenance requirements and life cycle costs.   

The Smithsonian Magazine recently celebrated their 40th anniversary and to commemorate the event, shared 40 things you need to know about the next 40 years. Number one on their list of “major changes” was that “sophisticated buildings will be made of mud.” Despite the fact that earthen construction has been in constant use for over 10,000 years, modern building materials and industries have led the front for testing and building science advancements. There exists a lack of adequate empirical confirmation that substantiates what has been shared anecdotally for thousands of years; earthen homes keep people warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. 

For our testing purposes, Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks (SCEB) will be used to research how moisture and heat transfer through an earthen block home that will be built this summer in Castle Rock, Colorado, USA.  In parallel with the testing, our Team will develop a calibrated model of the thermal performance of earthen construction that will be used as a test bed for vetting design solutions.

We hope you can help us obtain this useful data by supporting us to obtain the necessary sensors and equipment to install in the wall.  Our Team will monitor heat and moisture changes within the wall and on the interior surface of the exterior wall over the course of a year, and then work to improve the energy efficiency software programs. 

Unlike many products today, the price of soil is not tied to the price of oil. Stabilized earthen walls are impervious to water damage, fire-proof, insect-proof, bullet-proof, and can be built with minimal training.  Additionally earthen walls have the unique ability to absorb and adsorb water vapor, unlike traditional wall systems.  Our Team is ready and willing to learn more through applied research, and share this knowledge with the construction industry for the betterment of our environment, health, and economy.

Our mission will be to disseminate the performance of earthen wall systems so that energy savings can be realized worldwide.  We hope you help us!

The data loggers are in the wall!  We have been collecting data for over a year on how the wall performs with regards to moisture and heat transfer.
We are working with Emu Systems and SMT Research on this project.  The figure on the right shows the sensors we are using from SMT.  
The figure on the lower left shows the Rockwool insulation going over the CEB walls.  The figure on the lower right shows the block with the sensor wires coming out that will be concealed.   Stay tuned for final results in 2021!