Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’

This is the largest, most successful earthbag project in Haiti so far. They’re doing a great job in an extremely difficult situation.

“At this village in Bongnol, Haiti, Haiti Christian Development Project has completed 10 of 14 planned earthbag houses for earthquake refugees at the cost of $2200 each. Men of the community were hired to do the construction. Occupants will live in the houses at a low and affordable rent. Additional surrounding land has been acquired to extend the project.”

Patti also reports “The HCDP people are just continuing to build earthbag. They love it. Currently planning a little school/ clinic building, and buying more lots for another subdivision. Wow.”

Previous blog post: New Earthbag Houses in Bangnol, Haiti

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The earthbag village in Bongnol Haiti continues to grow slowly (10 houses in the past 9 months). Again, thanks to Patti Stouter for her wonderful guidance. Thank you for the inspiration of your website.

The Haiti Christian Development Project has completed 10 of 14 planned earthbag houses for earthquake refugees at the cost of $2200 each. Men of the community were hired to do the construction. Occupants will live in the houses at a low and affordable rent. Additional surrounding land has been acquired to extend the project.

Haiti Christian Development Project

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Keep barbed wire straight and overlap ends in center of wall

Keep barbed wire straight and overlap ends in center of wall

An engineer of note gave us some suggestions on how to improve earthbag corners in seismic areas. The engineer is concerned the barbed wire could shift in a quake. He felt that wire mesh anchors (4- 5 with 1″ long teeth, bent so it stands up nicely) would better secure barbed wire at corners. He preferred the idea of running the barbed wire straight out the end of the wall, around a wire mesh strip at the corner and back into the wall. That way it was nearly tensioned. The barbed wire could also run up and over into the next course.
Wire mesh anchors can better secure barbed wire at corners

Wire mesh anchors can better secure barbed wire at corners

Reinforced Mesh Corners
Low-Cost Reinforcement of Earthen Houses in Seismic Areas
Source: Special thanks to Patti Stouter of Simple Earth Structures for networking with engineers at a recent earth building conference and coming up with these ideas, the drawing and photo.

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The Love & Haiti Project provides a curriculum for sustainable living solutions to Haiti. In May 2011, we will be certifying Haitian students in Permaculture and training locals in Superadobe while building community structures with this technique around the island.

The Love & Haiti Project’s mission is to provide the people of Haiti a safe, transitional sub-permanent housing alternative, teach a curriculum of skills to empower Haitians to self-sufficiency, and assist with the rebuild of this recently disaster-struck country.

The Film Project
These Two Hands is a documentary on the long term rebuild of Haiti- demonstrating the ability to make a huge impact with grassroots principles. Through consistent filming of the on-site build in Haiti, this will allow for The Love & Haiti Project to create translated training videos whereby the local Haitian citizens will learn how to:
• Build using earth and repurposed rubble
• Waterproof dwellings utilizing effective water catchment and treatment systems
• Grow food of sustenance using natural irrigation and organic permaculture principles
• Teach other members of their community and communities close by how to build using these methodologies

The overall purpose of the film project is to raise awareness of permaculture methodologies, natural building techniques and various practices of sustainable lifestyles.

For more information, please contact us at: film@loveandhaitiproject.org

Source: The Love & Haiti Project

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Seismic Resistant Gravel Bag Foundation (click to enlarge)

Seismic Resistant Gravel Bag Foundation (click to enlarge)

Yesterday’s post was about the earthquake resistance of earthbags. Today’s post illustrates what an earthquake resistant gravel bag foundation looks like and explains why this design is so effective. Gravel is an ideal material for this application because it’s durable, reasonably inexpensive, readily available in most areas, has high bearing strength and prevents wicking of moisture up in the wall. Gravel will shift or ‘give’ during seismic activity, thereby relieving stress without causing structural damage.

The gravel is contained in polypropylene bags or tubes, double-bagged for strength. The gravel bags rest directly on a typical rubble trench foundation with a French drain that removes water from under the building. Two courses of 4-point barbed wire between courses reduce slippage and provide tensile strength. Vertical rebar or bamboo pins are placed opposite each other and tied together through the wall with sturdy baling twine. Plaster mesh, fishing net or plastic fencing is tied to both sides for additional seismic resistance. Typical soil-filled earthbags are placed on top of the gravel bags once you’re safely above where moisture can cause problems.

Gravel bag foundations score highly in every category: ease and simplicity of construction, dirt cheap cost, durability (poly bags can last 500 years if protected from sunlight) and earthquake resistance. No concrete forms needed — just a few simple tools such as a shovel. I highly recommend reviewing some previous blog posts on this subject to better understand why earthbag foundations are a favorite among natural builders.
– A similar gravel bag foundation with strawbale walls successfully passed a shake table test in Nevada with forces that surpassed that of the Northridge quake in California.
Earthbag Foundations background info
Scoria or pumice can be used in place of ordinary gravel to create a frost-protected insulated foundation. (Frost-protected foundations save energy and greatly reduce construction costs because you don’t have to dig down to frostline.)
Rubble Trench/Earthbag Foundation
Earthquake-resistant Earthbag Building Details
Low-Cost Reinforcement of Earthen Houses in Seismic Areas
Another Earthbag Foundation Method explains an alternative way of building a foundation with gravel bags.
Rubble Bags
Flood and Earthquake Resistant Earthbag Foundations in Pakistan
Reinforced Mesh Corners
Earthbag/Stone Foundations

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CORGANIXS combine ISBU “Cores” with Earthbag “Wings” attached, to form high-speed, sustainable, cost effective and energy efficient housing

CORGANIXS combine ISBU “Cores” with Earthbag “Wings” attached, to form high-speed, sustainable, cost effective and energy efficient housing

Anyone watching the news can’t help but notice the large number of devastating natural disasters that have been going on. One of the greatest needs in the world is disaster-resistant housing – houses that can hold up against hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, flooding and other natural disasters. Alex Klein, author of Introduction to Container Homes and Buildings and the Renaissance Ronin website, has been at the forefront of ISBU container housing for years. We’ve been exchanging ideas lately on combining ISBUs and earthbags (he covers this in his new book called The Nuts and Bolts of ISBU Buildings), and it’s been a great pleasure working with him. Here’s his most recent email.

Hi Owen. I released The Nuts and Bolts of ISBU Buildings for presale to raise money to help hard hit families NOW. All (100%) of the funds raised from the “Reservation/Presale” of the book are going to support American families in crisis, due to the recent tornadoes and flooding. We’ve actually already purchased over a thousand gallons of fuel to haul ISBUs with, due to the book push. It just proves to me that people are good. MANY have reached out to help people they didn’t even know. We consider ourselves blessed to be a part of that process. :)

We delivered the first of many support ISBUs to crisis centers in the Midwest last weekend. These Support Centers, – consisting of 20′ galleys, 20′ secured pantries and 40′ bath/shower/laundry units will support volunteers and workers giving their all to help those in need. As we dropped and set the first boxes I realized just how much need there is for secure housing NOW. MANY areas that we visited look like a nuclear disaster. In some cases, it’s just pipe sticking up out of the ground. Even the debris field is absent, whisked away by Mother Nature’s fury.

We’ve spoken about my idea to use both ISBUs and Earthbags in conjunction, creating a “hybrid dwelling” that becomes PERMANENT. It’s a high speed union that will protect and provide for families in need. The core 20′ ISBU is dropped into place (in this first case onto a prepared foundation slab), containing a bathroom and small kitchen, with a “reclaimed dining booth area. Earthbags are used to build a wing off of either (or both) long sides, creating up to 600 square feet of living space, in a matter of days, using not much more than shovels, misprinted bags, cast-off quarry materials and water.

Top that assembly off with a SIP roof covered in SSMR (Standing Seam Metal Roofing) and you have an extremely well insulated, extremely durable housing system. The SIP roof can even support itself without trusses in these runs. The area under that roof (and over the ISBU section) can be reclaimed to form a sleeping loft or even additional storage, easily. An alternating step staircase would allow access by most children and adults, sans those with impairments or physical disabilities. I’m enclosing a quick sketch of what we have in mind. Approx 30′ x 20′ with a simple clerestory roof. As you read this, I’m [fabricating] a 20′ Core unit for earthbag prep.

I suspect that it’s going to look like this (see sketch), to maximize space inside and make it capable of sustaining long durations of habitation. 30’x20’ with a clerestory roof. Approx. 600 square feet. You WILL be able to shelter a small family in it comfortable. And it will be extremely cost effective to build.

But wait, there’s more. Because all the wiring and plumbing is essentially done in the CORE unit, the connections are minimal – saving lots of time, manpower and money. The first sketch I sent was the “bare bones”, this provides add’l kitchen expansion in the form of overhead cabinets over the sinks and a built in pantry and storage area. Essentially we’re welding the doors of the ISBU open, and then framing it out to form a dinette booth. It just seemed to lend itself to the design. I haven’t included a back door, a big no-no if I seek gov’t funding for sure, but I could always add a bank of French doors off the bedroom to allow emergency egress. Again, it lends itself to the design. I thought that we’d determine the exact window placement later. I’m figuring that we’ll use the “CORNERS” to provide the “big views” and the clerestory to allow toplighting.

In light of all the work you’ve done recently with “Geopolymer explorations”, I’m considering using GEO-Bags to build the prototype. The idea of a strong, nearly anti-ballistic wall system that you can “cast” with your own hands is extremely intriguing. Do you have any insight in the connection between GE-BAGS and the Corten Steel ISBU? If this works, we’ll start building in MO, OK, CO. MS, AL and even MT before summers end.

Owen: Outstanding design. The concept of combining earthbags and containers is a great idea. Hybrid designs like this that incorporate various ideas are often the most appropriate. And like I mentioned to you before, there’s no wasted space in this design, everything works perfectly. [Just to be clear, this is Alex’s design. He’s just been bouncing ideas off me.]

You could roll out the project quicker and easier by using standard earthbag techniques. Geopolymer technology is well proven, but no one has built a geopolymer earthbag house yet. There’s limited information available, especially on this new McNulty process. I did a quick search on his method and have found very little additional information. I’m guessing very few people have put it to use because his method is so new. You’d need to do experiments using a range of local materials, pay for lab tests and so on. That could take months…

Maybe start out with standard earthbag (probably stabilized with lime to increase moisture resistance) to get things moving and start the geopolymer experiments on the side.

Other points:
– use metal anchors to join earthbags to other building materials (use larger versions of thicker metal for greater protection in disaster prone areas)
– add reinforced concrete bond beam to top of earthbag walls with large, high quality hurricane ties embedded in the bond beam to secure the roof (as you know, the roof is the first thing to go and then the wind can blow over the rest of the house)
– roof overhang should be around 12″ to reduce risk of wind damage
– add storm shutters and raise the building site

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Building with earth requires low energy input in processing and handling soil – only about 1% of the energy required to manufacture and process the same volume of cement concrete. This aspect was investigated by the Desert Architecture Unit which has discovered that the energy needed to manufacture and process one cubic metre of soil is about 36 MJ (10 kwh), while that required for the manufacture of the same volume of concrete is about 3000 MJ (833 kwh). Similar findings were also reported by Habitat (UNCHS), Technical Note No. 12 comparing adobe with fired clay bricks.

Environmental appropriateness – the use of this almost unlimited resource in its natural state involves no pollution and negligible energy consumption thus further benefiting the environment by saving biomass fuel.

Source: Compressed Stabilized Earth Block Manufacture in Sudan

Note: Due to the high cost of energy, low embodied energy materials are less expensive than materials that use a lot of energy (steel, concrete, etc.).

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I’ve pulled together the recent posts on rubble bag houses, expanded and edited the info, and published a new blog post at Mother Earth News. It includes details on how to build and reinforce rubble walls.

Concrete rubble from collapsed buildings is a huge problem in Haiti. It is blocking roads and hindering reconstruction. Instead of spending millions of dollars trucking the rubble away and disposing of it, why not use it to build affordable housing? Utilizing this abundant local resource would cut building costs, save transport, and create jobs by turning a waste product that’s in the way into much needed housing. (One year after the quake, over one million people are still homeless.)

Note: There’s no shortage of rubble in Haiti. This Oxfam site says only 5% of the rubble has been cleared. That’s a lot of free material sitting close to future building sites just waiting to be used.

You can read the article for free at Mother Earth News Blog.

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World Shelters -- Bags of Shelter

World Shelters -- Bags of Shelter

Today’s post is from the World Shelters website at Appropedia.org.

Bags of Shelter is an earthbag shelter designed for World Shelters to use as transitional shelter for people in Haiti affected by the January 2010 earthquake. World Shelters is a non-profit organization dedicated to producing housing for disaster relief and general humanitarian needs. A four person design team, Humangineers, designed Bags of Shelter as part of Lonny Grafman’s Introduction to Design class at Humboldt State University.

This project was done for our 12-week assignment for Introduction to Design for the Spring 2010 semester. Our client, World Shelters, asked Humangineers to use dirt as a resource in order to provide transitional housing for the people of Haiti. Seven criteria were established by World Shelters and they include: Level of Safety, Use of Local Labor, Durability and Repairability, Ratio of Dirt of the Structure, Cost, Ease of Mass Production and Ecological Impacts.

Humangineers recommends Bags of Shelter because it is a suitable design for World Shelters and meets the client criteria. Bags of Shelter uses dirt as a primary building resource. The design also provides a way for Haitians to stimulate their local economy by making barbed wire and also by building the entire structure itself. Overall, Bags of Shelter is a functional design for transitional housing in Haiti. Humangineers recommends the use of lime plaster as an exterior coating for the structure. The total projected cost for Bags of Shelter is $272.81.

Complete article is at World Shelters Bags of Shelter.

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This is another major announcement courtesy of Structure1.com. Instead of building buttresses, which tend to be time consuming and difficult to design correctly for earthquake zones, they recommend using the same specifications we reported earlier for reinforced earthbag walls in seismic regions. The comments below are from the latest email exchange with Structure1.com.

Refer to: ASTM E2392, Standard Guide for Design of Earthen Wall Building system. Please note that this empirical standard is applicable only when engineering design is not available.

Portions of the International Building Code, IBC, and ACI 530. Please note that chapter 5 of ACI allows unreinforced adobe only in Seismic Design Category A. So, it [unreinforced earthen construction] is not allowed in Seismic Design Category B, C, D, E and F. That is to say it is practically not allowed in more than 95% of the world.

If this is the case, reinforcing bars are always required. So, while buttresses add strength to earthbag construction, they are not required as long as we use reinforced steel bars. Buttresses can be eliminated to save money. The project will be more economical and comply with the building code with reinforcing steel bars only.

Once again, we owe a great deal of thanks to Structure1.com for their efforts to move earthbag building to the next level. Note: No one has received any money for any of this work! This is all pro bono work intended to help those most in need.

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