Recently rammed earth has become popular as a sustainable construction material.
There are numerous benefits to the environment in using rammed earth compared
to more modern alternatives of concrete and steel.
Sustainable rammed earth projects in the UK
Using rammed earth as a construction material greatly reduces the amount of
CO2 released during the construction of the building.
The manufacture of cement requires the burning of limestone and produces CO2
as a waste product. Around 10% of global CO2 emissions are from the cement industry
In using soil taken directly from the site, there is no transport requirement,
directly reducing CO2 emissions and taking vehicles off the road.
1. The Guardian A cracking alternative to cement May
The high thermal mass of rammed earth walls mean they act to naturally regualate
the internal temperature of a building. If a rammed earth wall is designed into
the heating system of a structure, the energy required to both heat and cool
the building can be greatly reduced, which further reduces the CO2 emissions
of the building.
Rammed earth naturally regualtes the internal relative humidity of the building,
producing an improved air quality. This contrasts greatly with air conditioning
systems, which act to dry the air in a building and contribute to harsh working
and living environment.
Treloar et al 2000. Environmental assessment of rammed earth
construction systems Structural Survey Article
Taylor & Luther 2003. Evaluating rammed earth walls: a case
study Solar energy Article
Hall & Allinson, 2008. Assessing the Effects of Soil
Grading on the Moisture Content-Dependent Thermal Conductivity of Stabilised
Rammed Earth Materials. Applied Thermal Engineering.
Rammed earth is perfectly able to act as load bearing members within a structural
system. We have particular expertise in the structural performance of rammed
earth and have developed novel testing methods to aid understanding of the fundamental
mechanisms governing the behaviour of rammed earth. The strength of dry, unstabilised
rammed earth is close to 1MPa, but both the strength and stiffness of the material
reduce greatly with increasing water content, and thus the building must be
well designed in order to maximise the structural potential of the rammed earth.
The inherent recycleablility of rammed earth, and the reduction in CO2 emissions
during the lifetime of the structure, the high thermal mass and thus low operating
costs all mean that rammed earth has a much lower embodied energy than comparable