Saturday, April 09, 2005


Most people think of concrete as a benign building material, including myself. I was surprised to find out in Serious Straw Bale that concrete is one of the most energy intensive materials used in construction. Each cubic yard of concrete produced results in 631 pounds of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Eight percent of the carbon dioxide released into the earth's atmosphere annually is a result of concrete production.

There's no doubt that concrete is very useful material. But there are less energy intensive alternatives. For instance, plain old earth. Earthen floors are common in less industrialized countries and from what I can gather can be just as tough as a concrete floor. An earthen floor is made up of clay, sand and some kind of binder, often straw. This is mixed into a paste not unlike concrete, poured like concrete, and let to dry. An oil is used to seal it. Earthen floors have been successfully employed in retail spaces with heavy traffic.


Blogger jim said...

I have not done an "expert" analysis, but from my experience working with clay in the studio and seeing the packed grey clay and sand glacial till just under the soil at Destiny. I would guess that we have the materials at hand for a earthen floor. Maybe we can do some tests with the stuff. If we soak it in a bucket of water, break it up and stir it then let it settle the sand and clay will separate to some extent.

And, as long as we are looking at everything, how about stone construction. It is labor intensive but we have lots of material available.

9:40 AM EDT  

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