The Earthbuilders’ Guild, Inc. (TEG) was formed to support, promote, and advocate for earth-building industries, and to educate the public regarding earth-building and related subjects, by the following means (listed here in order of importance):
1. TEG Code Activities
Central to TEG’s purpose for being is the maintenance and protection of the building codes, which guide and affect the Earth-building Industry and TEG designers and builders. The current national building codes are the International family of codes, such as The International Building Code (IBC), The International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), among others. These codes are updated nationally every three years. New Mexico, under the Construction Industries Division in Santa Fe, adopts these national codes, but modifies them to conform to regional and local usages. The codes, which most concern TEG, are organized under the New Mexico Earth-building Materials Code.
The almost constant code modifications can and do affect the Earth-building Industry and TEG makes it a responsibility to keep up with them and work on them when necessary. This means trips and meetings with State, County and City building officials where TEG code committee members interface with building officials to work out code problems.
The sequence of actions necessary are listed below:
a.) Notice: Often, the Central New Mexico Home Builders Association about upcoming proposed code changes notifies TEG. On other occasions, officials within the Construction Industries Division (CID) present TEG with a code change request. Also, TEG itself may propose a code change or addition to the CID, or to a City or County Building Inspection department.
b.) Interfacing Committee Work: TEG then organizes those builders within its ranks who are familiar with that aspect of the code to work with the State, County or City. For example TEG has code change committees for Adobe, Compressed Earth Block and Rammed Earth. The two parties interface to work out the written solutions. Either or both sides may have to support their work or criticism with a licensed engineer on hand.
c.) Technical Advisory Committee: When the actual proposed change has been worded, it then goes before the TAC or Technical Advisory Committee, which is part of the CID. This is a hearing during which the heads of the various departments- Plumbing, Electrical, Structural and so forth, review the proposed change or code addition to discern if unexpected consequences or safety issues can be found in the proposed change. At the hearing, TEG representatives must then defend or explain the change and if they do so adequately, the TAC will probably approve it. The process is bureaucratic and time consuming and requires drives to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces on the part of TEG code committee members, depending on which CID office or building inspection department the officials are meeting at.
d.) Legal Review After the particular change or addition passes the TAC, it must still be reviewed by a NM State attorney working for the CID, or the particular City or County in respect to potential liability issues. In this review, sentence structure and grammatical details may have to be modified. If the language change threatens the initial intent of the code change, both TEG and the CID may have to meet again for rewriting those portions.
e.) CIC Vote: Once past the TAC and legal checkpoints, statewide code changes or additions are presented at a public hearing staffed by the Construction Industries Commission or CIC. The CIC votes to either accept or reject the code change.
f.) Implementation: If accepted, the CID then sets an implementation date for the new code. It is typical for the implementation date to be up to six months after the CIC vote, with a six month “grace” period after that, during which time, builders may continue the old practice.
g.) Digestion and future outlook: When a code change or addition becomes final, TEG notifies its members and works with them to clarify what the change or addition will
In the past, TEG members have worked with code officials to write the New Mexico Rammed Earth code, the first “on the books” rammed earth code in the USA.
We have worked with code officials to write the NM Compressed Earth Block code, which took three years of dedicated effort. It is the first “on the books” CEB code in the USA.
TEG has continued efforts to keep and expand energy codes that recognize and allow passive solar design and mass wall construction.
At present, TEG is working with CID on additions to the NM Rammed Earth codes, dealing with treatment of parapets in roof construction and other points.
We will continue this work into the future.
Code work was initiated upon inception of TEG, and is ongoing. Code work is fundamental to our exempt purpose, as a means to support, promote, advocate for, and educate on earth building.
2. Membership: Recruitment of people and businesses whose activities center on earth as a means of construction.
It is TEG’s purpose to stand strong in working with building officials. By growing our numbers we are able to let those officials know that we exist as we advocate the use of earthen construction products and techniques. Membership recruitment is done by word of mouth, community contacts (like minded organizations), and via our website.
Past activities have included a table at the 2011 Earth USA Conference, news articles in AdobeBuilder Magazine, local newspapers, tours of local earthen buildings and membership outreach events.
At present, we are maintaining our website to bring new memberships, and mailing a renewal letter (included with this application) to encourage present members to continue with TEG. We invite the membership and other interested parties to attend the open Board meetings and to participate in decision-making and developing ideas.
Future: As the membership grows we anticipate developing a Membership Directory for use by members as well as the general public. It will be a resource for finding earthen building information.
Activities related to membership were initiated upon the inception of TEG. These activities further our exempt purpose by bringing together a pool of like-minded people to supply a resource of funds and knowledge to support TEG in all its activities.
TEG will promote the earth-building industry through education of the general public and construction professionals, realtors, appraisers, and lenders, on the merits and benefits of these centuries-old building methods, using various events and sponsorships. These events, including but not limited to participation in trade fairs, tours, social gatherings, educational programs solely or in partnership with like-minded organizations, are a current and ongoing focus for the Guild. As other ideas for meetings, educational programs or events are suggested, they will be vetted using the bylaws of our organization to confirm that the best interests of TEG and the earth-building industries are being served.
We are at present working with Northern New Mexico College, Cornerstones of Santa Fe, and Adobe in Action to develop a method to increase access to education programs, programs offered both hands-on and via the internet, and to institute a program for Certification of Earth Builders. The certification program, once in place, will be overseen by the Earthbuilders’ Guild. Its purpose is to ensure that builders, manufacturers, and educators involved in the earth-building trades are familiar and experienced with the construction processes and code requirements used.
An ongoing development within TEG is a ‘Best Practices Manual,’ which will set the highest craft standards for earth building, beyond the current codes, which are based on minimum requirements.
Past: Disseminating information via the website and personal contact.
Present: Working to develop a method for certification, as well as continuing past activities, and starting to acquire contributions for a ‘Best Practices Manual.’
Future: Continuing and expanding upon the ideas included here.
This activity was initiated upon inception of TEG. Education furthers our exempt purpose by informing both tradespersons and the public on building with earth. Greater knowledge leads to greater understanding, increased support, and more widespread use.
4. Information Resource for Professionals
One of our goals is to be a repository of information, through our members, that can be accessed by the professional community.
At present, TEG members can be located thru our website and contacted directly by architects and engineers to provide specific detail concerning our various trades. We provide direct contact for designers who need additional information from those of us who work in the earthen disciplines on a daily basis. This service is a great help to architects and engineers who are not completely familiar with earthen construction. The information that TEG members possess can get the A/E pointed in the right direction and avoids costly mistakes in designs that are not conducive to earthen construction. We can provide information concerning materials, construction techniques and application.
In the future we will be expanding this service by bringing in new members and increasing our pool of knowledge.
Developing TEG as an information resource was initiated from the beginning. Acting as a resource furthers our exempt purpose in that it is a means by which we can educate professionals, and encourage and support them in using earth-building in their projects.
5. Information Resource for the Public
As the public is seeking a source of information regarding building with earth, TEG will be the resource guide for their way to find the who, what, where, when, and why. This applies equally to a person seeking information for the first time with general questions about earth building, or to a homeowner who is building now and has a question about the project at hand.
In the past the sources of information have been publications in the form of books and magazines. Many of these are now out of date or publication. This leaves the general public in the dark ages when the web is now the source for information.
The current activity for finding general answers about earth building is non-existent. TEG will address this lack by becoming a resource, thru the web, to answer questions in a general forum.
TEG membership as a whole seeks to inform the public to the benefits of building with earth. Not any one type of construction, but the type that the public is interested in at the time the information is sought.
At present and in the future: TEG’s exposure as an information resource to the public will expand the knowledge of benefits of building with an earthen product.
Developing TEG as an information resource was initiated from the beginning. Acting as a resource furthers our exempt purpose in that it is a means by which we can educate the public, remove misconceptions, and encourage and support them in using earth-building in their projects.
6. Research and Development
Funds from membership dues and from grants will be used to fund research and development of various aspects of earthen building. R and D will be directed primarily toward increasing understanding of how earth can be integrated into design to maximize sustainability and energy efficiency, comfort, and beauty. We will submit research proposals to NM State University Dept. of Engineering, Los Alamos Labs, and Sandia Labs to test the applicability of the various unique materials associated with earth-building as well as thermal, seismic, and other properties of earth.
This activity has yet to be implemented. As we look deeper into the materials used for earth building we increase our understanding, and in sharing the information gained with our membership and the public, we better support and promote the earth-building industries.
7. Protection of the earth building trades
TEG will protect the Trade from legislation aimed at discouraging use of earth in construction and creating a restraint of trade, by use of letters to those involved, and lobbying where appropriate. Education of the public is also an element here–as the general public becomes more familiar with the benefits of building with earth it is less likely to be discounted as a viable building material. Code work is also an important element to protecting the trades. Appropriate codes emphasizing safety will protect the reputation of earthen construction.
The code work element of this was initiated with the inception of TEG, as was the education element. Responding to legislation is a plan to be implemented when necessary. Protection of the trades furthers our exempt purpose by promoting, advocating for, and educating about building with earth.