• Fiber•cement Siding
Fiber-cement siding is better for the environment
than vinyl and will last longer than wood.
Adobe is one of the oldest building materials
in use. It is basically dirt moistened with water, sometimes
combined with chopped straw or other fibers for strength, and
Cob is also an old method of building
with earth and straw or other fibers. It is quite similar to
adobe, but usually has a higher percentage of long straw fibers
• Rammed Earth
Ramming earth to create walls is similar
to adobe and cob techniques, in that the soil is mostly clay
• Cast Earth
Cast Earth has some very interesting and
useful properties. The compressive strength is about the same
as adobe or rammed earth, sufficient to support most conventional
building loads. The tensile strength is several times greater
than these materials, which makes it much stronger and perhaps
Sandbags have long been used, particularly
by the military for creating strong, protective barriers, or
for flood control. The same reasons that make them useful for
these applications carry over to creating housing: the walls
are massive and substantial, they resist all kinds of severe
weather (or even bullets and bombs), and they can be erected
simply and quickly with readily available components.
Straw is a renewable resource that acts
as excellent insulation and is fairly easy to build with.
Cordwood construction utilizes short, round
pieces of wood, similar to what would be considered firewood.
This method of building can be very resource efficient, since
it makes use of wood that might not have much other value.
The basic earthship design incorporates substantially
bermed, passive solar architecture. The primary retaining walls
are constructed with used tires, filled with earth and stacked
up like bricks. The interior surface of the tires is then plastered
with adobe or cement so the tires don't normally show.
Papercrete is basically re•pulped paper
fiber with portland cement or clay and/or other dirt added.
When cement is added, this material is not as "green"
as would be ideal, but the relatively small amount of cement
is perhaps a reasonable tradeoff for what papercrete can offer.
Lightweight concrete, weighing from 35 to
115 pound per cubic foot, is made of mortor and foam. The compressive
strength is not as great as ordinary concrete, but it weathers
just as well. Among its advantages are less need for structural
steel reinforcement, smaller foundation requirements, better
fire resistance and it can serve as an insulation material!