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TEG Newsletter - Issue #18

We have news for you!


TEG Tour - Taos, New Mexico

On July 30 several members and guests were treated to a 2 hour tour of the Couse-Sharp Historical Site in Taos, New Mexico. Beautifully restored adobe buildings have been cared for over the last 100 years. The property now houses the Lunder Research Center for the Taos Society of Artists. So much history, art and relics on the 2 acre property. For more information visit their website And for more photos from our visit go to our Facebook page - The Earthbuilders' Guild.

Pat Martinez Rutherford - TEG Board Member


Adobe Home in Albuquerque’s North Valley

In June, Albuquerque Joinery completed an adobe home in the Los Griegos neighborhood of Albuquerque’s North Valley. The Earthbuilder’s Guild toured this project in October of 2021, during construction. At that time, we had just completed the bond beam and set the ceiling beams.

This modestly sized 1,850 sq. ft. home, designed by Kenny DeLapp and Esther Fredrickson, was envisioned as an authentic addition to the neighborhood, which includes many historic adobe structures. As construction got underway, neighbors were delighted to see that the new house being built on their street was an adobe one. Building with adobe is always going to be our preference, but it’s particularly meaningful when we also have the opportunity to continue the architectural heritage of a neighborhood.

Albuquerque Joinery created all the cabinetry in this house as well, which allowed for integrated details where the woodworking meets the adobe. In the kitchen, an inset wood backsplash wraps into the window to follow the plaster return, detailed with the same bullnose that we used throughout the house where the ceiling meets the walls. Adobe plaster was used for all the interior walls – including those that were sheetrock – which were finished with a clay paint.

We’re delighted to share photos of the finished interior here. Exterior photos will be shared soon on our website,

Esther Fredrickson – TEG Board Member


Remembering Matteo Pacheco

It is with immense sadness that we share the tragic news of Matteo Pacheco’s untimely passing. Matteo (Lizard King Construction), the incredibly gifted and visionary earthen practitioner and long-time member of TEG, was killed in an unfortunate motorcycle accident in late May of this year. At his memorial service, there were at least 750 people attending, an astonishing and enormous testament to his impact within our earthen and artistic community. We appreciated Matteo in so many unique and rare ways, and his influence on us will continue to benefit our earthen efforts for years to come. Below is a picture of him at the Sandia National Laboratory facility where he was taking lead on solving problems and doing what he loved so very much, creating something that meant something.

He was truly an earthen innovator and visionary. Rest in peace dear friend and colleague.

With deepest sadness,
The Earthbuilders’ Guild Board of Directors


Earth USA 2022 Returning to Santa Fe, NM September 23rd - 25th, 2022

An important international conference on earthen architecture and construction returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico after a three year hiatus. Registration now open!

Earth building enthusiasts from all over the world will soon converge upon Santa Fe to participate in Earth USA 2022, the 11th international conference on earthen architecture and construction.

This conference will once again take place at the Scottish Rite Center's Alhambra Theater from Friday, September 23rd to Sunday, September 25th, 2022. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the biennial conference was postponed a year but enthusiasm is high for its return.

The three-day conference — one of the preeminent conferences in the field — considers any material or method that uses clay as a binder — such as adobe, compressed earth block, monolithic adobe (cob), and rammed earth among others.

Of interest will be a series of podium and poster presentations; a Friday evening social event sponsored by The Earthbuilders' Guild; and an optional walking tour of historic earth building sites in Santa Fe. Presentations and poster sessions at Earth USA 2022 are offered by both academicians and practitioners and cover a broad field of disciplines including architecture and engineering, historic preservation, public policy, environmental sustainability, cultural anthropology, sociology, and the arts. The diversity of presentations and presenters add to the relevancy and worthwhileness of this conference.

In addition, Mark Chalom, a renown architect who specializes in the field of sustainable architecture and who played an instrumental role in the significant 1970s Sundwellings Project at Ghost Ranch, in Abiquiu, NM will be offering the keynote address. Also of note will be the presentation and awarding of the second Fred Webster Earth Building Engineering Prize. This prize is given to a student or students who are working on innovative design or engineering solutions for new construction or preservation projects in the field of earth building. In 2019, the inaugural prize was awarded to Jun Mu, Tiegang Zhou, and Wei Jiang of the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture in China.

Earth USA 2022 will certainly be of interest to academicians, architects, practitioners, public policy officials and specialists, as well as to the general public who have an interest in earthen construction and all that it entails.

Due to the generous support of conference sponsors, registration rates are lower than the previous Earth USA conference held in 2019.

The organizer of this conference is Adobe in Action, a New Mexico-based non-profit organization.

For more on the conference including the conference schedule, registration details, important Covid-19 recommendations, and other important information check out the Earth USA 2022 website at:

Mark Zaineddin - editor, EarthUSA News
Kurt Gardella - TEG Board Member


Upcoming TEG Certification Exams

The Next TEG Certification Exams are scheduled for September 17th, 2022 in Albuquerque, NM.

Adobe Proficiency Certification Exam: This upper level exam, with a prerequisite of 2 years experience in adobe construction and education, is a full day of testing, divided into a written and a hands-on portion. The deadline to apply for the Adobe Proficiency Certification Exam is September 7th, 2022. More info at

Adobe Fundamentals Certificate Exam: The AFC exam is open to all who would like to prove their knowledge of adobe construction, but who lack the required experience to qualify for the Adobe Proficiency Certification exam.
The written portion of the AFC exam is administered online, based on the student’s schedule. It must be completed by September 03, 2022 - 2 weeks prior to the hands-on portion of the exam. The deadline to apply for the Adobe Fundamentals Certificate Exam is August 24th, 2022. More info at

TEG members are given a discount on exam fees; for more information on this and on these programs, check our website or email us at


SCEB Research at Sandia National Laboratories (cont.)

This will be the final newsletter article regarding the CSEB testing that was performed over the last four and a half years at Sandia National Laboratory. I will attempt to wrap up this series by giving some opinions as to the usefulness of the research results as well as give some details on what the very last set of tests delivered as far as new information. You may also notice that I have changed my nomenclature from “SCEB” to “CSEB”. This was a result of discussions with my peers and thinking about why the order of the letters is important and relevant. I have come to believe that the defining characteristic of these earthen blocks is that they are compressed, ergo, the first letter should be “C”. While they are stabilized (“S”), this is a secondary characteristic and therefore the order of CSEB makes the most sense. Onward.

As I detailed in my last article, the final test we conducted at the laboratory was a failure. Not of the test wall itself, but the test setup failed. Still, we were able to glean quite a bit of information from this test and it has encouraged us to proceed with approaching the construction permitting authorities in New Mexico and petitioning them to grant us permission to use our CSEB construction method. Since my last article, the final report has been given to us along with new images that lend weight to our assertion that this system of earthen construction is uniquely positioned in the construction market. What we also gained was a more detailed set of data from this test that will allow for post-test analysis to determine some of the finer points of the results.

This new information along with the images follow. At the end of this article, I will give my opinion as to the value of this research along with a summary of the approach.

This image is taken from the ASTM requirements for the E119 test regimen. The curve denotes the requirement that the test temperature reach a minimum level of around 900°C within 1 hour and continue to increase gradually to just around 1100°C by the 4 hour mark. The 4 hour test is the required test time for commercial construction. The Sandia engineers were focused on achieving this temperature within the burn box since the previous two tests had failed to do achieve it.


The above image is the plotted data from the test. There was a glitch in the data capture software tool, but no data was lost, just that the previous image (0 to 35 minutes into the test) and this image (35 to 250 minutes into the test) aren’t in one single data set. The Sandia engineers apologized for this. What this chart shows is that the burn box temperature (top group of lines) held fairly steady at around 1100°C for essentially 4 continuous hours. Meanwhile, the back side of the test wall (bottom group of lines) showed a very gradual and reasonable increase in temperature up to around 110°C. Of interest is the fact that as soon as the burn box was extinguished the front side was hit by the water stream (around the 255 minute mark) which dramatically cooled that side, while this graph shows that the back side retained a fair amount of heat but did nevertheless drop.


This image shows the test wall after the 4 hour burn and the 5 minute water spray, which it has obviously survived. The minor spalling on the surface was a result of a combination of issues, the primary one being that the wall had already been through one burn session on the previous test attempt. The segment shown here is the lower left side of the test wall. All evidence indicated that the test wall suffered no thermal breach over its entire surface, part of the requirements of the test regimen in order to be successful.


This image may be among the most useful and compelling of the entire set of tests. When the final test was complete, the wall as shown above was demolished and the pieces were scooped up with a large loader and dumped unceremoniously outside of the test facility in a jumbled pile. That’s where I found this piece after sorting through the debris. These two blocks came from the very section that is shown above, the lower left corner of the test wall. The two almost complete block pieces are still absolutely bonded together even after being knocked down, tossed, and jumbled together with all the rest of the wall. But what is most intriguing is the fact that the surface of these blocks actually reached a temperature that has vitrified (made glassy) the block materials! This happens around 1600-1700°C! What this indicates is that the burn box setup must have directed some direct flames onto this area, and yet it still survived both in terms of block integrity as well as the bonding material. You can also see just how deep the temperature penetrated with the black line being the char zone for the bonding material and it also shows that deeper into the block the bonding material wasn’t broken down by the heat. Not too shabby!

So, this test series is now complete. It didn’t pass the ASTM E119 test after three attempts, but not because the wall failed. Rather, it was because this type of testing is demanding, complex, and full of “gotcha’s” that are nearly impossible to anticipate without having successful experience with a similar test and material. The Sandia engineering staff could not have been more professional and in fact were extremely driven to understand what had caused the failures. Here is the summary, unedited, as written by the Sandia Laboratory principal investigator in the final report:

“Design and configuration for this test established that burnbox using propane burners and fans as well as a load frame with I-beams and hydraulics to compress the wall would be used to meet the ASTM E119 Fire Wall testing criteria as close as possible. Unfortunately, the hydraulics had a failure due to the high temperatures after about 45 minutes of testing. After heating of the wall was complete the hosestream test meeting ASTM E2229 within 10 minutes was conducted. This test indicated that the wall assembly does not fail or become unstable after being subjected to 4-hour heating period or the hosestream test. These tests helped provide evidence that the wall assembly could potentially serve as a fire wall and barrier. Future work should include conducting additional testing after refining the setup to ensure all components are able to endure the harsh thermal enviroment.”

Yes, he misspelled “environment” at the end. Yes, these engineers are real people, but what they also are is an incredibly valuable means for people like us to get some actual engineering and science based testing done. Was it worth it, even after we put in arguably $20k of our own resources? Without one iota of doubt, it surely was. This type of testing is exactly what is needed in order for the earthen construction industry to move into the modern construction codes and therefore into the modern housing market.

With optimism,

John Jordan, President, Paverde LLC; TEG Board member-at-large


Earthen Legends

TEG has begun a project of compiling bios/stories of those people who have contributed to our industry over the years. We are interested in receiving bios from anyone who can add to our library of knowledge in a salute to those who make up the history of earthen construction. Send your submissions to

Criteria for submissions to Earthen Legends:
One whose profession was in the field of earthen construction – building homes, commercial buildings, adobe making, rammed earth, compressed earth blocks, scebs and manufacturing of materials and products used in earthen construction.
In the field of education – teaching earthen construction
Authors on the subject of earthen buildings/materials/architecture.
Architects, engineers, and designers of earthen construction.


TEG Board of Directors Position Open

The Board has an opening available for a seat on the Board of Directors. We meet 6 times a year at varying locations in New Mexico - primarily Albuquerque. Over the last year we have been meeting via Zoom. The position provides for many opportunities to network, keep informed, visit earth building sites, and work with committed industry professionals. Please submit your qualifications and a letter of interest to

If you have any questions, please ask. We would welcome your participation. For your perusal, minutes from our meetings are posted on TEG’s website:

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