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US Afgahan missed opportunities

June 20, 2011

Luke Mahony

PATRICIA McARDLE wrote this opinion piece for the New York Times:

“American taxpayers’ dollars are also being used for energy-inefficient construction projects. During my year in Afghanistan, I sat for hours in meetings with local officials in remote mountain and desert locations, sweating or freezing — depending upon the season — inside concrete and cinder-block schools and police stations built with American aid. These projects are required to adhere to international building codes, which do not permit the construction of traditional earthen structures.”

“These structures are typically built with cob — a mixture of mud, sand, clay and chopped straw molded to form durable, elegant, super-insulated, earthquake-resistant structures. With their thick walls, small windows and natural ventilation, traditional Afghan homes may not comply with international building codes, but they are cooler in summer and warmer in winter than cinder-block buildings. They also last a long time. Some of Afghanistan’s oldest structures, including sections of the defensive wall that once surrounded the 2,000-year-old Silk Road city of Balkh, are made of cob and rammed earth. In England, people are still living in cob houses built before Shakespeare was born.”

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Earth Building Research

June 8, 2011

Luke Mahony

Assoc Prof Terence Williamson of the School Architecture, Landscape Architecture at Adelaide University, in conjunction with the Earth Building Association of Australia and the Nillumbik Mudbrick Association, is conducting a survey into the performance of rammed earth and mud brick houses.

The study aims to find out how people use and think about their houses. Knowledge about living in an earth building, what it’s really like and the feelings people have about the comfort of their home are the main things the research aims to discover. The more that is known about such factors, the better are the chances of designing such houses that are sustainable and suitable for different people in different places.

To gather the information an on-line questionnaire has been set up. Preferably this questionnaire should be filled out by the person of the household over the age of 25 years who spends most of the time at home, but really any household member over this age may fill out the questionnaire.

Please click on this link. We will try and provide the results when they are released.