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Energy Performance of Earthen Walls

$3,865 of $6,500 goal

Raised by 32 people in 10 months
Created July 1, 2018
Housing is a major public health issue. The United Nations once estimated that 10 million people worldwide die each year from conditions related to substandard housing. Our Team intends to address this construction issue by validating a durable, economically and environmentally sustainable wall system that can be utilized in greater capacity today.

Earthen walls have proven themselves capable, having already provided safe and comfortable shelter for thousands of years. These homes, when properly built for the climate and environmental hazards, address the need to manage moisture risk, conserve energy consumption, while minimizing maintenance requirements and life cycle costs.   

The Smithsonian Magazine recently celebrated their 40th anniversary and to commemorate the event, shared 40 things you need to know about the next 40 years. Number one on their list of “major changes” was that “sophisticated buildings will be made of mud.” Despite the fact that earthen construction has been in constant use for over 10,000 years, modern building materials and industries have led the front for testing and building science advancements. There exists a lack of adequate empirical confirmation that substantiates what has been shared anecdotally for thousands of years; earthen homes keep people warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. 

For our testing purposes, Stabilized Compressed Earth Blocks (SCEB) will be used to research how moisture and heat transfer through an earthen block home that will be built this summer in Castle Rock, Colorado, USA.  In parallel with the testing, our Team will develop a calibrated model of the thermal performance of earthen construction that will be used as a test bed for vetting design solutions.

We hope you can help us obtain this useful data by supporting us to obtain the necessary sensors and equipment to install in the wall.  Our Team will monitor heat and moisture changes within the wall and on the interior surface of the exterior wall over the course of a year, and then work to improve the energy efficiency software programs. 

Unlike many products today, the price of soil is not tied to the price of oil. Stabilized earthen walls are impervious to water damage, fire-proof, insect-proof, bullet-proof, and can be built with minimal training.  Additionally earthen walls have the unique ability to absorb and adsorb water vapor, unlike traditional wall systems.  Our Team is ready and willing to learn more through applied research, and share this knowledge with the construction industry for the betterment of our environment, health, and economy.

Our mission will be to disseminate the performance of earthen wall systems so that energy savings can be realized worldwide.  We hope you help us!
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Updates from Castle Rock! The data loggers are in the wall. We are super excited to start collecting data. We are also still looking for funds to complete our fund raising needs. Thank you for your support - it means a lot to us! Below are photos of the home under construction. We are applying the Rockwool insulation panels to the exterior now.
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Please help us raise the funds for this study. We are hoping to reach our goal - every donation gets us one step closer. Thank you!
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One of our sponsors has offered to match donations totalling $500 that are provided by the end of July! This means that if we are able to raise an additional $500 by July 31, another $500 will be matched for the study. Bringing us $1000 closer to our goal. Thank you anonymous sponsor!

Please note our deadline by the end of August to raise the needed funds. This is a great opportunity for the earth building community to better understand how earthen walls perform in a cold climate. The information will be shared worldwide and will be a significant step forward to improve the software programs that determine how building materials are meant to perform. Earthen walls may be an ancient technique, but they deserve a place at the table when considering energy efficiency and thermal performance for a building.

We hope you help us today!
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Below is a detailed summary of what the research will include:

1 - delivery of sensors to monitor internal conditions (T, RH), external conditions (T, RH), and conditions inside the masonry (T, RH).

2 - one hour of remote installation support for the SMT sensors over the phone (installation not included).

3 - wifi portal to automatically collect data from the sensors (requires power and home wifi connection, not included).

4 - collection of data from nearby weather station.

5 - one-off on-site measurement of construction moisture (for fine-tuning of hygrothermal simulation model).

6 - review of existing documentation and research on how to best model your specific earthen block in the hygrothermal simulation.

7 - hygrothermal simulation of masonry wall assembly, according to standard conditions (ASHRAE 160 and ASHRAE RP 1325), as well as as-built conditions (actual built-in moisture, weather data of current year).

8 - one year of data collection from sensors.

9 - comparison between simulation results and monitored data.

We hope to gain the support to carry out this research! Thank you for your support!
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$3,865 of $6,500 goal

Raised by 32 people in 10 months
Created July 1, 2018
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