What are Compressed Earth Blocks?
Compressed earth blocks (CEB) are a form of large unbaked construction material composed of soil with clay content, a concrete mixture and a small amount of water. The ingredients are poured into a mixer atop a powered mechanical press which compresses them into super dense blocks that, once dried, can have a compressive strength up 2,000 psi. The blocks can be laid, similarly to traditional masonry, with a thinner version of the mixture spread between to bond the rows together.
Why use Compressed Earth Blocks?
Compressed Earth Block construction is more environmentally friendly than traditional building materials. The building process produces less CO2 and uses fewer natural resources. In addition, not only are the blocks less expensive to produce than traditional masonry units, they are also bullet-proof and insect resistant making them ideal for nearly every global region. The dense walls also retain heat and cold to stabilize interior temperatures as well as maintain a constant humidity. This not only cuts down on energy use but makes CEB structures a more pleasant place to live, work and play.
About the Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity House
Faculty and students from the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture's Sustainable Building Program were awarded a $90,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after winning Phase II funding at the EPA P3 Expo and Competition in Washington D.C. The students performed demonstrations of their Compressed Earth Block building technology on the National Mall April 21-23.
The grant will allow the CEB team to build a compressed earth block house in Norman, Oklahoma in partnership with Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity (CCHFH). The team will compare the CEB home to a conventionally wood framed house built on the adjacent lot by CCHFH to National Green Building Standards (NGBS). Both houses will be instrumented, monitored and compared for all aspects of sustainability as defined by the NGBS. The ultimate goal is to design a system whereby Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the United States could use CEB technology to provide affordable housing that is more resistant to wind damage and more environmentally sustainable than those built with conventional technologies.