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TEG Newsletter – Issue #4

TEG Tour – Gutierrez-Hubbell House & Cultural Center January’s TEG Tour took place in Albuquerque, NM at the 5,700 Square foot adobe structure that sits on 10 acres in the south valley. A group of 17 TEG members and guests were guided through the architectural and family history of this restored home and property. The home dates back to the 1860’s and symbolizes the mixing of Spanish, Anglo and Native American traditions and cultures. We want to thank Carol Chapman (a descendant of the family) for the information- packed tour. For more detailed information on the property and the many educational and social events held there, visit their website:

The Gutierrez-Hubbell House is located at 6029 Isleta Blvd SW 505-244-0507

TEG Tours are typically held the morning of our bi-monthly TEG Board Meeting. They are an opportunity to network with those in the industry of earthbuilding and those with an interest in earthen construction—adobe, compressed earth block, rammed earth, new work, and historic structures. Guests are always welcome. TEG does not charge for the tours; on a rare occasion there is an entry fee at the tour location. Visit our website to find out where the next tour will be.

Pat Martinez Rutherford

Adobe Proficiency Exam The next exam for the Basic Adobe Proficiency Certification, offered by the Earthbuilders’ Guild, is scheduled for May 17th and 18th at New Mexico Earth Adobes in Albuquerque, NM.

This exam, designed and reviewed by adobe experts, is designed to show the applicant’s skill and comprehensive knowledge in the field of adobe construction.

Please visit the TEG website for additional details and registration:

Helen Levine

San Diego County Adobe Tour The San Diego Adobe Heritage Association has announced that its 8th annual adobe home tour will feature adobe homes and buildings in and around Pauma Valley, California. Held on Sunday, March 24, the tour will feature buildings from the early 19th century through the 1970s; an adobe mission, an adobe church, a classic rancho-style adobe and four modern-design adobe homes demonstrate the wide variety of earthen construction in San Diego County. Tickets are $27 and can be purchased at

Ben Loescher

SCEB Research in Sandia National Laboratories (continued) Figure above: Surface profilometry results of block one out of three. The range of deviation from flatness was about 1mm.

The SBA-funded research project described in the previous newsletters has been completed as of late November 2018, and the final report was given to us in the third week of January 2019. To be clear, the report had been finalized by the Sandia Laboratories scientists/engineers almost as soon as the testing was completed, but this being a National Laboratory, the report had to pass through a rigorous security assessment to determine whether it was eligible for distribution outside of the lab. This takes some amount of time, but well worth the wait since it produces a document that has been blessed by some of the most capable security folks in the nation.

The summary results of this project have exceeded our most optimistic expectations. In my last (Nov. 2018) update I mentioned that the scientists had moved forward with testing and analyzing some alternative bonding materials, acrylic epoxy to be specific. The epoxy was tested in terms of its strength, compressibility, and cure time. While the details are proprietary to our effort, what I was most surprised by was the fact (data matters!) that by using the epoxy, a small amount of ductility was introduced to the “system”, meaning when two blocks are bonded this way, when a 3-point bend test (some refer to this as the rupture test) is carried out, the bonded blocks do not catastrophically break. Rather, what was seen was that the bottom block did crack, but that the crack did not travel upwards and crack through the top block, and when the pressure was relaxed, the pieces, including the cracked bottom block, remained together as one, still bonded together, unit. I am pretty sure that this result is an exhibit of some pretty unique characteristics of using epoxy to bond SCEBs. The following graphs were produced by the SNL team.

Figure above: Results of shear testing of blocks bonded with epoxy adhesives. Image (a) shows results for the unfilled epoxy formulations. Image (b) shows results for sand-filled epoxies.

One particularly satisfying result of this project was to see the level of enthusiasm and engagement among the scientists/engineers at SNL that were working with us. This technology is not one that routinely comes their way and, truth be told, I think they found it refreshing to work on something that allowed them to stretch their imaginations and embrace some sustainable materials as well. The useful and somewhat surprising tests that they are able to carry out and report on are truly impressive, an example being the following image. This is not something that is normally tested, but in this case, they arrived at the conclusion that they needed to do this to understand a critical aspect of the SCEBs.

We are going back to the trough, so to speak, and petition the SBA for a second round of funding to now test the in-plane shear of a built wall system with the epoxy bonding. If we can, we are also going to attempt fire rating testing as well, but that may be a stretch, given the limited funding that is available. I will continue this series if we are successful in our request.

John can be reached at

John Jordan

Update from Colorado Earth We have completed our second season in Golden, Colorado and have signed up again for our Block Production facility along Highway 93 between Golden and Boulder. A recent accomplishment along that road comes from the marketing world. We have a roadside 5’ X 10’ sign! Lisa is a traffic engineer on the side. Her information reports 18,000 cars a day. Securing the permit and getting it built was some effort, but we believe, worth it. Let’s see what happens!

The Castle Rock home is up and dry. Our part is complete and a good job of it, if we don’t say so ourselves! We do have the data loggers installed in the blocks. About 65% of the funding needed was provided through “Go Fund Me”. However, we are waiting for the interior work to be complete before we will have data to share regarding heat and moisture transfer through the wall system in that home. The exterior walls are 10” thick SCEBs, with 2” of Roxul panels. The finishes are twin track wire (I really like this product) and plaster exterior and lime washed exposed blocks interior.

The best for last: We are forming a cross border SCEB company with Francesco Piazzesi. Francesco is the founder of Echale A Tu Casa, a Mexico City based, social business responsible for the housing of over 1,000,000 low-income Mexicans through the construction of 35,000 SCEB homes (and counting) and 150,000 remodels. Francesco and Jim have been amigos for a couple of decades and we are honored by his trust in Colorado Earth to assist him in bringing his technology over the border. He is sending up a new line of equipment and we are challenged to build a Show Home to advance the cause of earth block walls. We intend this Show Home to start with earthen walls, however, we want every square inch of every material within the structure to first be vetted with a set of parameters including health, energy efficiency, embodied energy, LCA, comfort and affordability, to start the list. Beauty is assumed! We are seeking input from everyone and everywhere to make the judgements on each foundation / flooring system, through the faucets and lightbulbs, to the roof (solar or earth or…?). Jump in! Email or with ideas!

Jim Hallock

Announcing Earth USA 2019 Adobe in Action proudly announces Earth USA 2019 – The 10th International Conference on Architecture & Construction with Earthen Materials. The formal conference will be taking place from Friday, October 25 to Sunday, October 27, 2019 at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Earth USA 2019 indicates a wider field of interest than previous conferences and includes adobe, rammed earth, compressed earth block (CEB) and monolithic adobe (cob). Any material or method that uses clay as a binder is considered.

2019 Fred Webster Earthbuilding Engineering Prize

Earth USA (in partnership with Pat Taylor, Bill Druc and Jim Hallock) is initiating the Fred Webster Earthbuilding Engineering Prize as a tribute to Fred and his work in the earthbuilding field. The first prize will be awarded at the Earth USA 2019 conference. The target group for the prize is engineering and architecture students worldwide who are working on innovative design and engineering solutions for new construction as well as preservation projects in the earthbuilding field. More information about the prize can be found at

Call for Abstracts

Earth USA is now accepting abstracts for presentations at the 2019 conference. Abstracts will be accepted until Friday, February 15, 2019. All abstracts should be submitted using this online form.

Complete details about Earth USA 2019, including how to become a conference sponsor, pertinent dates, and Paper subject categories can be found at

Kurt Gardella

TEG Honorary Membership Nominations The Board of Directors is accepting nominations for Honorary Lifetime Membership in TEG. Below is the Criteria. Deadline for nominations is March 1, 2019. Email your nomination to

Honorary Lifetime Membership Criteria

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 March 1st of the current year for consideration for this years’ award; the Board will announce its decision by the end March.

Advancement of Earthen Construction • Research related to better understanding of earthen materials • Development of earthen material technology • Advancement in earthen engineerin

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

Southwest Solar Adobe School Spring 2019 Class This spring’s 3-day class is dedicated to Planning and Drafting for a permitted Adobe or Compressed Earth Block home, including as many Hands-on hours we can fit into the Memorial Day weekend of May 25, 26 & 27 (Sat/Sun/Mon). It will be held at our Bosque, NM country site, 38 miles south of Albuquerque. Price is the same as 2018 and the class bonus (only for registered students!) is Plan 704, sent to you in PDF form a few weeks before class. We can also send 704 to your local repro shop for copying. Visit for details. The class is limited to 14.

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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