For those who don’t know, earthbag structures are constructed with bags of moist soil or other suitable materials, stacked in courses like masonry and then tamped solid. As they dry, they turn into incredibly strong walls. Although very popular for a number of compelling reasons, this building method has struggled to reach its full potential due to the difficulty of gaining acceptance by building departments. But now with engineering approval by an engineer licensed in 27 states, we expect an explosion of new interest and rapid developments in earthbag building.
First, let’s take a look at the larger picture to better understand what’s taking place in the natural building movement. Resource scarcity and high energy prices for manufacturing and transport have begun to tip the scales toward more sustainable, lower cost options. People are now asking themselves if they want to trade 30 years of their life to pay for a home built with highly processed, energy intensive building materials such as brick, steel, plastic and concrete. They also have to wrestle with their conscience, since these materials cause great environmental harm.
Production builders, manufacturers, suppliers and others who profit from modern building materials claim these materials are the easiest to use and most practical. However, this assumes these highly processed materials are affordable. But the fact is they’re not affordable to 1.2 billion people who have no housing. They’re not even affordable to millions in developed countries, including the US, where about 70% of Americans can’t afford a contractor-built home, and that was before the current recession and housing crisis.
Read the full article at Mother Earth News Blog.