The construction industry is one of the most lucrative fields of business – but it is also one of the biggest contributors to the degradation of the Earth. Urbanisation and the construction of modern structures might indicate a country’s positive economic growth; however, these also give way to the cutting of trees and destruction of natural environments, as well as the increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants through the manufacture of commonly used construction materials, such as cement. For modern citizens who want to do their part in keeping Mother Nature in good condition, building a house through these harmful construction methods is definitely a terrible choice.
However, there is one alternative to contemporary construction techniques: rammed earth construction. This type of building technique involves the use of a mixture of raw earth, gravel, chalk and lime. Because these materials can be easily found in nature, this type of construction offers a highly sustainable way to build homes. In addition, because the materials are used raw and do not require additional refinement, creating homes using rammed earth means less production of harmful pollutants that are commonly by-products of processing.
Rammed earth walls are constructed by piling a damp mixture of earth, clay and sand into a frame or mould, and then compressing this mixture until it forms a sturdy and solid structure. Frames and mould can be reused multiple times, thus reducing the need for more timber and tree cutting.
In the past, a few other materials, such as animal blood and lime, were added to the mixture for added stability. Modern methods, however, use cement, lime or asphalt stabilising additives. Other materials can also be added to the mix to yield different colours or designs. These include coloured oxides and recyclable items such as bottles, pieces of timber or even rubber tires. This makes it possible to reduce waste in the environment because items that are normally thrown out get to serve another function.
While there are many environmental benefits to using rammed earth for building homes, this construction technique also offers many advantages to homeowners. Foremost among these is increased energy efficiency of homes. This is because rammed earth is a particularly good insulator, and as such, it helps retain heat during winter and then keeps homes cooler in hot climates. Rammed earth homes, for instance, are particularly comfortable even with the country’s weather extremes. In addition to helping homeowners save more on energy, rammed earth structures are also fireproof and strong enough to withstand earthquakes. This gives homeowners better protection for their safety as well as against financial losses.
Rammed earth is actually a very old construction technique – its use dates back to ancient history. However, this age-old building method might just be what is needed by homeowners of the future.