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One of the biggest strengths of the human race is to create adequate shelter. In the time that we live we are mostly familiar with structures constructed out of mortar and brick. This however wasn’t always the case and for millennia different methods and materials were used to construct human dwellings.

Many of these “older” techniques and usage of alternative materials are making a strong comeback. The easier access to these materials, sometimes even on the building site, the concern of the impact of building on the environment and the need to live in a healthier environment are supplying the motivation to change.

Some of the different techniques that are used successfully all over the world to build are:

  • Adobe
  • Cob
  • Cordwood
  • Rammed Earth
  • Straw bale.

It seems that the immediate reaction to these types of building is; this type of building will never last! On the contrary! For example, cob houses are fairly common in England and some are still in use after being build hundreds of years ago.

Rammed earth is also made more accessible through the production of compressed earth blocks (CEB). Rammed earth in the sense of compressed earth blocks have a range of benefits including uniformity of blocks, non-toxicity of materials used, sound, fire, insect and mold resistant and stunning thermal mass properties.

These construction approaches presents a “new” way of thinking about how to build and with what to build. For people with a leniency to a more “traditional” way of building; there are also some options to lower the ecological footprint of the building process. Two of these are:

  • The recycling of building material currently on the site and
  • The use of a natural plaster as a finishing touch.

Whenever you decide to build a new home, office or any other space; take a moment to consider the impact of the building and to dream of how to go outside the “norm” and create a space with integrity and caring as far as the environment is concerned. Keep in mind that for every one ton of Portland cement produced, one ton of CO2 is released.