Preserving and Promoting Age-Old Building Methods

 

Seth Roffman

 

 

The Earthbuilders’ Guild (TEG) is a New Mexico-based organization dedicated to the betterment and advancement of earthen construction of homes and commercial buildings. Motivated by family traditions, meaningful work, environmental concerns and the joy of working with the earth, as well as great respect for the benefits of the structures, the guild researches, preserves and promotes age-old building methods of adobe, rammed-earth and compressed-earth block construction. 

The TEG, a “Businesspersons’ League,” has stimulated communication and unity among contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, installers, architects, draftsfolk, etc., and has made earthbuilding a visible trade to bureaucrats and politicians who would otherwise ignore or eliminate it when considering legislation or code changes. TEG’s Best Practices Manual sets the highest standards for earthbuilding, beyond current codes, which are based on minimal requirements. TEG works as a qualified interface with officials when building codes that may affect its members are written, adopted or modified. The New Mexico Rammed Earth Code took 10 years to write. The New Mexico Compressed Earth Block Code, the first “on the books” in the US, took three years. TEG has also worked to keep and expand energy codes that recognize and allow passive solar design and mass wall construction.

 

Another major thrust of TEG’s work is to educate designers, builders and the public. At present the guild is working with Northern New Mexico College, Cornerstones Community Partnerships and Adobe in Action to increase access to education programs, both hands-on and through the Internet. The guild is also working to institute and oversee a program for certification of earthbuilders. Once in place, the certification will ensure that builders, manufacturers and educators are familiar and experienced with the construction processes and code requirements.

 

Funds from TEG membership dues and from grants are intended to be used to fund research and development of various aspects of earthen building, much of it directed toward increasing understanding of how earth can be integrated into design to maximize sustainability, energy efficiency, comfort and beauty. This includes proposals to test the applicability of various unique materials associated with earthbuilding and their structural, thermal, seismic and other properties.

 

TEG is developing a membership directory of people and businesses that use earthen construction products and techniques. The directory is available to the professional community as well as the public. More information on the guild is available on the organization’s website: www.theearthbuildersguild.com

 

 

 

 

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