Earthen Building Standard

One of EBNet's greatest accomplishments was gaining approval of ASTM E2392, Standard Guide for Design of Earthen Wall Building Systems. ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards, which means that the standards it publishes have a huge impact on developing building codes throughout the world. If there is an accepted standard, local building officials are more comfortable approving the use of alternative materials, such as earth. The five-year project involved research on the current status of earthen building throughout the world, writing the new standard and then shepherding it through committee. ASTM E2392-10, Standard Guide for Design of Earthen Wall Building Systems. Authored by Bruce King, and based on the work of many colleagues around the world, that little document will save thousands of lives, and make truly green building easier for everyone.

Billions of people live in adobe homes, almost all of them because they can afford nothing else. And until now those people have been completely vulnerable to violent death and dislocation from earthquakes, because the knowledge of how to make those homes affordably safe has only recently been developed and articulated. Getting that knowledge out to the world where it can make a difference required writing, vetting, approving and publishing a globally-respected building standard that describes and guides good building practice. Now we have done just that.

Dissemination of this standard will literally bring greater safety to the poorest of the poor. But there's much more. It will also pave the way for earthen construction at every level of society, where it is being rediscovered as a healthy, durable, comfortable, and lovely alternative to the industrialized buildings so many of us grew up with. Mud huts no more, earthen building has moved uptown.