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TEG Newsletter – Issue #3

TEG Tour – Hillsboro, New Mexico

TEG is excited to announce the next TEG Tour. We will be meeting in Hillsboro, New Mexico at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 10th. We will meet at the Cafe. The tour will cover the Black Range Museum (building from c. 1884 with iconic round adobe water tower build late 1920s), the ruins of the Sierra County courthouse (build 1892) and jail, and historic homes along Main and Elenora streets. We will spend a couple of hours taking in as much as possible. We will have lunch beginning at noon at a local restaurant. (no host/RSVP required). The tour is free. Local resident, Garland Bills will be our guide along with one or two other locals. Take a look at the Hillsboro website for a feel for the historic town. The TEG Board meeting will be held after lunch at the Community Center. Guests are welcome.

Please RSVP to Pat ASAP at 575-644-8099.

Pat Martinez Rutherford

Tribute to Richard Levine

It is with great sadness that we of New Mexico Earth Adobes announce the passing of Richard Levine, patriarch of the Albuquerque Levine clan and proprietor of NM Earth Adobes. Richard founded New Mexico Earth Industries in 1972, and his company remains one of the largest suppliers of adobes in the US. Although Richard retired several years ago from active participation in the adobe yard, we will miss his advice, his support, and his humor!

Richard leaves behind his wife, Clara Speer; his sisters, Ruth and Anne; his seven children, Keith, Helen, Mark, Ben, Leroy, David, Halcyon, and his step-son, John Bear; eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and a huge circle of friends.

Richard was a talented photographer, geologist, and librarian; spoke fluent Spanish; enjoyed poker nights with his friends; and loved to travel.

He was a lover of good coffee, literature, photography, hard work, intellectual discussion, and a good laugh. He had a twinkle in his steel blue eyes and a rapier sharp wit that won’t be soon forgotten.

Goodbye, Richard. Wherever you are, the dirt is bound to be absolutely perfect for adobes…

Helen Levine

Cob Research Institute (CRI) Study

In the San Francisco Bay area, The Cob Research Institute (CRI) is currently preparing samples to be used in thermal resistance testing to determine the steady state U value of cob. Testing is expected to occur in December at Intertek Architectural Testing Lab in Fresno, California. The work will be conducted according to ASTM C1363, the recognized method for determining the thermal performance of building envelope assemblies and components. A detailed description of the thermal test project can be seen on the CRI website

The work is just one part of an ongoing larger CRI initiative that will propose the addition of a Cob Appendix to the International Residential Code early next year. While the work is currently under way, additional funding is necessary to meet the $6,000 thermal test budget. Donations to support the Thermal Test and CRI / IRC Cob Appendix Project can be made at CRI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to making cob construction legally available to everyone who wishes to build with it.

Ben Loescher

SCEB Research in Sandia National Laboratories (continued)

The SBA-funded research project described in the previous newsletters has almost come to the end. Over the last two months there have been some interesting developments, including some of the first data coming in from the shear testing of the polyurethane adhesives. The data is informative in that it does demonstrate that the use of adhesives delivers a relatively strong shear strength, which will be reported on in the next newsletter article. The images show how the Labs took the bonded pieces, cut them to a specific size (2.2 inches square) and then potted them in a super strong ceramic material that held the SCEB pieces solidly while shear force was applied in opposite directions. The resulting failure is evident with the major failure being the adhesive with some fracturing of the SCEB on the edge. This was the expected result, so additional testing will determine what the average shear strength of the adhesive is. There are upwards of 35 tests of this type that are being performed as part of this project so we are hoping that a clear understanding of the interaction between the SCEBs and the adhesive becomes evident.

Another development in this project is that the Labs brought in a very specific expert in epoxy resins to discuss and suggest the use of epoxies for the adhesion of the SCEBs. At this point there are some preliminary tests being done, and we are excited to see what is found regarding their use. This will be reported on in the next newsletter as well. Overall, it has been an entirely worthwhile effort and demonstrates the effective use of this type of research funding.

John Jordan

Update from Colorado Earth

We’ve been busy on several fronts, fulfilling block orders, working with clients on the design of their home, and working towards setting up a second block plant on the Western Slope of Colorado. We are also excited to update you on our energy testing that will be carried out on one of our current build projects in Castle Rock, Colorado, south of Denver. Thank you for TEG and all our supporters for helping to make this testing possible. We are excited to share that the data loggers are in the wall for data collection! We will start collecting data for the next year on how the wall performs with regards to moisture and heat transfer.

We are working with Emu Systems and SMT Research on this project.

The image above shows the Rockwool insulation going over the CEB walls. To learn more about this study please visit GoFundMe.

Lisa Morey Schroder

Where’s Joe?

Joe Tibbets is headed to Honduras and Roatan island to work with Rodrigo Flores Gomez, an old friend from USAID days. Rodrigo has a Belgian hand press (one at a time) CEB machine, with which he and crew have made many thousands of stabilized CEBS on mainland Honduras. The island has great soils for adobe, so we are going to see what might be done. The island now has a wind farm and is trying to enhance its environmental protections. As you probably know, Roatan and the Bay Islands have the second largest coral reef in the world, only second to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. To protect the reef, they have to prevent off-flow from the shores of the island and so interest in things “green” is enhanced there. Of course, we’ll have plenty of help from the Iguanas, lots of screeching from the parrots and hopefully not much help from the Crocs….(ha ha).

Photo above: A View of the Caribbean from the north shore of Isla Roatan

Joe Tibbets with Southwest Solar Adobe School

TEG Members are welcome to send in articles for our next newsletter. Please contact Pat at for more information.

Education in Earthbuilding

Are you interested in expanding your understanding and knowledge of building with earth?

Perhaps looking for volunteer opportunities?

Take a look on our website under the Members’ tab or on the Directory for more information on who, what, when and where!

And keep an eye on the TEG blog for additional classes and projects going on in the earth-building world.

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