Rammed earth is an ancient building technique that has been modernized to be stronger, more durable and energy efficient through the addition of structural components such as rebar and insulation. SIREWALL is the acronym for this modernized green building technique and stands for: Structural Insulated Rammed Earth.
In the Exploring Alternatives video, we meet Tony Johnson of Earth House Holdings to learn more about the rammed earth construction and take a look at the mud house he’s building for his family in British Columbia, Canada.
The rammed earth mix for this project contains soil aggregates (~90%), cement (~9%) and pigments (less than 1%). It is mixed and placed in plywood molds, then tamped with a pneumatic pestle to crush the earth, and finally cleaned with a manual pestle. The wall is built in layers 6 inches at a time, giving the wall the typical ridges and lines of dirt.
Some of the advantages of rammed earth as a green building technique include the fact that it is energy efficient thanks to the thermal mass and thermal break created by the insulation. It is also an airtight material which means there is little heat loss due to poor air barrier. Some studies have also shown that it is fire resistant.
See the video below:
To follow and learn more about Tony’s adobe construction: