top of page
  • Writer's pictureTEG

TEG Newsletter - Issue #19

We have news for you!

TEG Tour on Saturday, November 19th

Our TEG Tour will be held on Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Albuquerque following our TEG Board meeting.

If you are interested in attending the Board meeting at 9:00am or joining us for lunch at 11:45am at a local restaurant please let us know and we will provide details. The Board meeting will be in person but will also be available by Zoom.

For our first tour we will be re-visiting an adobe home completed by Kenny DeLapp of Albuquerque Joinery. TEG toured the project in October 2021 while it was under construction, shortly after the bond beam and ceiling beams had been put up. The finished home includes interior earthen plaster, brick floors with radiant heat, a masonry kiva fireplace, and cabinetry fabricated by Albuquerque Joinery. The owner moved into the home in June 2022.

The second tour of the day is of an old adobe dating from 1882, with extensive restoration and additions by Luke Resnik of Agua Dulce Earthscapes. The property demonstrates the use of earthen and lime plasters, one of Luke's specialties, as well as examples of stonework. The tour will also include an adobe studio designed by architect Efthimios Maniatis, which is currently under construction.

Tour locations are about 15 minutes apart - driving time.

If you would like to join the Free tours please RSVP to Pat at or call 575-644-8099. The addresses will be provided when you RSVP.

Pat Martinez Rutherford - TEG Board Member


Welcome to our new TEG members!

We are happy to welcome the following members to TEG. They have joined over the last few months. Your support of the work the Board does is very much appreciated. And, of course, thanks to all those of you who have renewed your membership. Joining is easy. Go to our website and click JOIN NOW.

John Archer

Kathryn Bennett

Catherine Colvin

Jon Dettling

Colleen Friel

Evan Kay

David Kennedy

Roderick Knoll

Chuck Maffett

Joshua Montoya

Aaron Sauerhoff

BM Shiffer

Larry Sunderland

David Via

Jeremy Zilar

Pat Martinez Rutherford - TEG Board Member


Remembering Mel Medina

Mel Medina founded the Adobe Factory in 1978, turning out thousands upon thousands of sun-dried adobes to supply the northern New Mexico adobe industry. Not only northern New Mexico—his company has shipped adobes to as far away as the Bahamas, according to a report in the Rio Grande Sun. Closer to home, Mel was involved in the construction of the Mosque in Abiquiu, designed by renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy and built in 1980.

When he began he was just one of many adobe yards in the state, but through the years many of those disappeared, few remaining, of which Mel’s was without doubt the largest.

Mel was far more than just an adobe producer. Talking to some of those he knew I realize he was many different things to different people. Whether your interest was old cars—he had several—or bicycles—he had many!—or custom made hornos…he also hosted groups from many places, including Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, of those interested in his particular brand of adobe making, or in the cultural and historical aspects of adobe construction…and the list goes on.

Mel passed away in September of this year. His absence leaves a tremendous void, and is a loss to both his community of friends and to the adobe world.

Quentin Wilson often recounts a story about Mel:

“Mel, to what do you attribute your tremendous success in the adobe business?”

Mel’s reply, “I always return phone calls!”

The punch line to this story: Mel had a reputation—he was terrible about returning phone calls!

To those of us at New Mexico Earth Adobes he was more than our business competitor: he was Uncle Mel, a resource, a friend, an assurance that we were part of the greater community of adobe in New Mexico. We will miss you, Uncle Mel.

With deepest sadness,

Helen Levine & The Earthbuilders’ Guild Board of Directors


Nominations Open for TEG

Honorary Membership Nominations

The TEG Board is accepting nominations for Honorary Membership in The Earthbuilders’ Guild for 2023. Following is our guidelines:

One Honorary Lifetime Membership may be awarded to a member of the earthbuilding industry annually, with a two-thirds majority approval of the Board of Directors. Nominees should be submitted in writing to the Board by any member(s) in good standing, with a description as to why the nominee should receive this recognition, along with the material to substantiate the reasoning. The nominee should be of good character, meet TEG’s ethical standards and must meet at least two of the three criteria listed below for consideration. Submissions must be received by January 1st of the current year for consideration for the following years’ award; the Board will announce its decision by the end of the first quarter of that year.

Advancement of Earthen Construction

  • Research related to better understanding of earthen materials

  • Development of earthen material technology

  • Advancement in earthen engineering

Service to the Community

  • Education

  • Increase in public awareness and recognition of earthen construction

  • Charitable and social benefit work

Service to the Trade and Organization

  • Contribution to TEG as an organization

  • Work enabling and serving earthen tradespeople and professionals

TEG’s Honorary Members to Date are:

2012 – Joe Tibbets

2014 – Quentin Wilson

2016 – Simone Swan

2019 – Jake Barrow

2020 – Jim Hallock

Please send your nomination to

If you have any questions let us know.

Pat Martinez Rutherford - TEG Board Member


Earth USA 2022 Returns to Santa Fe, NM

Highlighting the Importance of Earthen Architecture, Construction, and Preservation

After a nearly three year absence, Earth USA 2022 — the 11th International Conference on Architecture and Construction with Earthen Materials — returned to Santa Fe, NM. This conference, which took place in late September, focused on a diverse array of topics related to the current state of earth building architecture, construction, and preservation.

Over 170 interested attendees from all over the world — including from as close as New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas, and as far away as New Zealand, Rwanda, and the United Kingdom — converged on the Scottish Rite Center's Alhambra Theater.

The 26 podium and 12 poster presentations as well as a panel on “adobe and fire” provided much in the way of information dissemination and discussion. Following the formal conclusion of the conference, many participated in a walking tour of vernacular earth building sites in Santa Fe and a self-drive tour of similar sites in Northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Santa Fe architect and pioneer in sustainable architecture and education, Mark Chalom, delivered the inspirational key address, “Building with the Earth — Past, Present, and Future from My Street Corner”. A meaningful memorial also was offered to remember Mel Medina, owner of the Alcade, NM-based Adobe Factory — one of the largest adobe brickyards in the United States, who had passed away less than a week before Earth USA 2022 commenced.

Finally, two major awards in the field of earthen architecture and construction were presented at Earth USA 2002. The Fred Webster Earth Building Engineering Prize was awarded to Scarlett Lee, a PhD candidate and tutor at the University of Edinburgh, for her presentation, “Flood-Resilient Earthen Construction Technology: When Earth Meets Fabric”. And Karen Terry received a lifetime achievement award for her decades-long contributions to, and advocacy for, earthen architecture and passive solar design as well as for her efforts in helping to define a “New Mexico solar vernacular.” Terry’s work has been local but her impact, international.

The conference was organized by Adobe in Action, a NM-based non-profit.

Full details about past, present, and future conferences can be found at

Mark Zaineddin - Editor of Earth USA News


Santa Fe Community College

Adobe Program Updates

The fall 2022 semester at SFCC is coming to a close. The blended-learning Adobe Wall Construction class - led by TEG board member Ernest Aragon - spent last weekend at a building site in Santa Fe covering the basics of adobe wall construction. A further weekend session will be used to carry out some regular maintenance work on the Santa Fe Botanical Garden hornos.

The spring 2023 SFCC Adobe Construction class schedule has just been launched and can be found at:

Kurt Gardella - TEG Board Member


Major Developments for Earthen Construction

with the National Codes

Every three years, the International Code Council solicits proposals to modify the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) through a series of progressive votes and hearings. This year, there are four proposals that are particularly relevant to the Earthbuilding community.

Preventing the Removal of Adobe from the Building Code

Since 2016, representatives from the conventional masonry industry have sought to remove a design method called “Empirical Design” from the design standards that they author, and ultimately from the building code. Adobe’s reliance within the IBC upon these provisions has been a significant barrier to this effort, as Empirical Design is the only design method for adobe that is recognized within that code.

Earlier this year, the National Concrete Masonry Alliance won committee approval to remove all references to standard TMS 402 Appendix A from the codes, and with it, all of the language that allows and guides the use of adobe brick. In conversation with the other masonry stakeholders, The Earthbuilders’ Guild appears to have been successful in brokering a solution that works for both parties and should allow adobe to remain in the code for at least another 3 year cycle until a more permanent solution can be found.

Clarification of Seismic Requirements

A separate proposal by a building official from the City of Phoenix will help clarify confusing language in the IBC that might incorrectly lead a reader to conclude that seismic design limitations for masonry do not apply to adobe.

Crushed Stone Footings

Crushed stone or rubble trench footings have long been of interest for earthen builders and designers because of their lower cost and quantity of embodied carbon compared to conventional concrete footings. For reasons that are hard to explain, the IRC has long allowed crushed stone footings to be used - but only for relatively rare wood and precast concrete foundations. RB166 proposes to allow use of crushed stone footings (also known as “rubble trench”) with concrete foundation systems for many single family homes in non-seismic areas.

Fire Resistance for Cob Walls

Building codes classify wall systems based on their ability to inhibit the passage of fire from one side of a wall to the other - a very useful thing, particularly for communities that are subject to wildfires. While many of us recognize the ability of earthen walls to act as a barrier to fire, building codes in the United States have not...

Based on testing conducted by The Cob Research Institute, RB310 proposes language that would recognize a 2 Hour Fire-Rating for specified Cob wall assemblies. This is a big set for cob in the United States, and should serve as a model for how to obtain recognition for other fire-resistant earthen walls, like adobe, compressed earth block, and rammed earth.

Each of these proposals received overwhelming support from voters at ICC’s Public Comment Hearings held in Louisville in September. Those votes will be tallied with those of online votes by a group made up of building officials from across the United States. Results should be known in early November.

Many thanks to Martin Hammer, David Eisenberg, Anthony Dente, The Cob Research Institute, The California Straw Building Association and the Earthen Construction Initiative. The Earthbuilders’ Guild is grateful for your efforts and collaboration.

Ben Loescher - TEG Board Member


Earthen Masonry Standards Development

At The Masonry Society’s (TMS) 2022 annual meeting held in Denver earlier this month, TMS approved a proposal advanced by TEG to form a committee of adobe and compressed earth block experts, structural engineers, contractors and academics to develop new national standards for unfired clay masonry.

The initiative is expected to go on for many years, with a short term goal of removing adobe’s reliance on masonry standard TMS 402-16 which has imperiled adobe construction with the IBC. Longer term goals include the development of a national standard for compressed earth block, and ultimately the creation of seismic design criteria that will allow the use of earthen masonry in areas of high earthquake risk.

The use of adobe and compressed earth block outside of New Mexico has been significantly constrained by poor code language, conflicting requirements and conservative limits on its use. If successful, these new standards should allow a major increase in the use of earthen masonry in the United States.

TEG members who are interested in this initiative should contact TEG Code Committee Chair John Jordan for more information.

Ben Loescher - TEG Board Member


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:

  1. 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.

  2. In the field of education – teaching earthen construction

  3. Authors on the subject of earthen buildings/materials/architecture.

  4. 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:

59 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
bottom of page