Currently 22% of the global carbon dioxide emissions are attributed to construction from which 8% is due to cement production. The use of steel, cement and extensive use of wood deplete resources and all directly or indirectly produce large amounts of carbon dioxide alongside other pollutants known to cause harm to the environment. A need is given to reduce the impact of construction and housing on the environment.
A promising technique that Eden Ecovillage has adopted to reduce the impact of housing on the environment is Superadobe also known as Earth bag homes pioneered by the California Earth Art Architecture Institute. Superadobe uses 90% earth from the construction site itself hence lends itself as an ideal sustainable eco-friendly material for construction. Typically polypropylene bags/ tubes and up to 10% cement are used for this type of construction. Our aim is to further develop this technique with eco-friendly bags/tubes such as burlap or recycled polypropylene and use lime instead of cement which has the advantage of reabsorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and hence offsetting its carbon foot print released during the production process. Other valuable advantages of these ecologically sustainable buildings are their fire, storm, and earthquake resistance.
Superadobe is ideally suited for passive heating and cooling systems that use a combination of thermal mass, solar orientation of the building and windows. Wind scoops in conjunction with thermal uplift will be integrated as a strategy to cool buildings. The primary focus will be to integrate passive cooling and heating systems to minimize the need for energy demanding active systems. Active solar heating systems will only be used as a supplement when passive systems are insufficient. Despite the availability of solar cooling systems we do not see a need for this as we think passive systems are sufficient for most climates. Superadobe is suited for all climates, uses the most abundant material for construction and provides superior performance characteristics compared to most other techniques. Until Eden Ecovillage encounters a better method Superadobe will be our method of choice.