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TEG Newsletter – Issue #5

TEG 2019 Honorary Lifetime Member – Jake Barrow

Jake Barrow, Executive Director of Cornerstones, has been awarded TEG’s Honorary Lifetime Member for 2019. The award honors his dedication to the preservation of our historic buildings, his significant contributions to the advancement of earthen construction, his service to the community, to the trade and to our organization, The Earthbuilders’ Guild takes great pleasure in awarding Jake our 2019 Lifetime Honorary Membership.

This award is given annually to a person who has shown, above all others, a majority of the following qualifications:

Advancement of Earthen Construction

  1. Research related to better understanding of earthen materials

  2. Development of earthen material technology

  3. Advancement in earthen engineering

Service to the Community

  1. Education

  2. Increase in public awareness and recognition of earthen construction

  3. Charitable and social benefit work

Service to the Trade and Organization

  1. Contribution to TEG as an organization

  2. Work enabling and serving earthen tradespeople and professionals

Among many other contributions he has spearheaded major adobe conservation projects in New Mexico, Arizona and California, and continue with Cornerstones Community Partnerships working to preserve historic buildings throughout the Southwest. He collaborated successfully with TEG in developing a training and certification program in adobe construction, and through offering volunteer and intern opportunities has show great patience and perseverance in training the next generation of earthen builders.

TEG is honored to have the opportunity to acknowledge Jake Barrows’ achievements and to show him our appreciation in the form of this award,

The Earthbuilders’ Guild Honorary Lifetime Membership.

TEG Board Members

Adobe Proficiency Exam

The deadline is fast approaching to submit your application for the May 17-18 Basic Adobe Certification exam. May 6 was the last day applications will be accepted for this round. Don’t worry if you missed this one; There will be another opportunity in the Fall.

More information on the exam requirements and study resources can be found on the Earthbuilders’ Guild website:

This certification is a voluntary program providing recognition of an individual’s professional knowledge through a process of examination and review of experience and educational qualifications by adobe construction professionals.

Recognition is given by the Earthbuilders’ Guild to those who (1) meet the eligibility requirements for admission to the examination as set forth in the application, (2) successfully complete the examination.

The objectives of the Basic Adobe Proficiency Certification Program are:

  1. to encourage the development of adobe construction professionals.

  2. to recognize adobe builders’ competency at the basic professional level and create incentives for these individuals to continue their professional development.

  3. to provide the public and those in government with a means to identify adobe builders who demonstrate, through a professionally developed exam and education program, that they have a thorough knowledge of safe, code-compliant adobe construction.

The benefits of the Basic Adobe Proficiency Certification Program include:

  1. Certification builds an individual’s self-image. By studying for and passing the exam, you will reaffirm to yourself and your peers a thorough knowledge of and dedication to adobe building.

  2. Certification affords the public and those in government the opportunity to make an informed selection of services based on the knowledge that is represented by the certification designation.

  3. The process of becoming TEG-certified and maintaining certification provides incentives for adobe builders to continue ongoing professional development.

  4. Certification is a tool to help employers, both in training their personnel and in selecting you as a new employee.

  5. When you successfully pass the exam you are given a wallet-sized card to demonstrate your Certification, and you will be listed on the TEG website as one among the select few specializing and skilled in adobe construction.

Helen Levine

San Diego County Adobe Tour

TEG’s chair and secretary of the Board attended the 8th Annual San Diego Adobe Home Tour on March 24, 2019. Ben Loescher, Pat Rutherford, and TEG member Wayne Rutherford were in the San Diego area to tour five private homes as well as the St. Francis Episcopal Church, the Mission San Diego de Pala, and the Pauma Valley Country Club, all adobe buildings. The San Diego Adobe Heritage Association, whose mission is to inspire the appreciation and understanding of adobe heritage in San Diego County, organized and presented this annual event. For further information and photographs visit their website:

Our congratulations on a well-run, organized event.

Pat Rutherford

SCEB Research in Sandia National Laboratories (continued)

The saga of the SCEB research at Sandia National Labs will be continuing! We formed a group of companies, the very same ones that started this project in early 2018, and petitioned the SBA for another round of research funding based on the results of the 2018 testing. While we believed that there would be some reservations from the SBA assessment panel regarding the continued funding without strong subsequent commercial results on our part, our fears were not realized. We put forward a strong case that the results of the 2018 testing demonstrated that our technology is valid and that there is mounting evidence that this could be a game changing approach for this type of earthen construction.

We basically asked for the maximum amount that was available given the makeup of our business group, $60,000 to be specific. Our presentation focused on the need to take the previous results and use them as the foundational data to push forward with testing the bonded SCEBs in a larger, more representative manner. We are going to use ASTM and ASME criteria and methodologies to conduct the testing and the results should be, if successful in the testing, able to pass the validation reviews that will lead to accreditation of our methods. We are also going to focus on the operational aspect of the bonding material regarding its viscosity, spreadability, and final set time. To that end we will continue to conduct small scale tests prior to the final larger scale tests. Relaying this to the assessment panel along with some of our projected economic impacts of this testing won the day, and we were awarded the maximum amount, with testing to commence immediately!

As the testing progresses, I will be relaying the results to you all as soon as possible. However, respecting the investment that the rest of our business group has made in this effort, I cannot divulge all of the technical data since that would potentially compromise our ability to fulfill the required “ask” of the SBA when funding this type of research, namely the economic development that should result from having a new market for our technology. My goal has been to demonstrate that programs such as this SBA program exist out there and that earthen technologies are able to take a place beside the usual technology suspects (apps, medical tech, software, energy tech, etc.) as meriting research. Should you find that you are interested in something similar, I will be available if you would like to pick my brain.

John Jordan

Update from Colorado Earth

We are happy to announce that construction of the new St. Yves School in Savanette Cabral is underway. The project is a cross-community collaborative initiative of St. Yves parish in Savanette Cabral, École Communautaire Gamaliel De Deslandes, St. John’s Catholic Church in Grafton, ND, and Partners in Progress. Colorado Earth is carrying out the design and on-site construction support. The school is being constructed with stabilized, compressed, earth block (CEB), a green building material with proven economic, health, and environmental benefits over conventional construction methods. The project brings together experienced CEB block makers and builders from Deslandes and builders and community members from Savanette Cabral. The school will provide a safe and healthy learning environment for 250 rural children, including children with special needs. Father Wilfranc, pastor of St. Yves, says, “In the new school, children will be taught to read, write, and do math. They will also be prepared to think critically about protecting the environment and respecting the rights of all people.” The construction will also provide training and important jobs in green building to local community members. The site has been prepared, cleared of old buildings, and a drinking water system has been relocated. In April, compressed earth block training will begin, followed by manufacturing of over 18,000 blocks needed for construction of the school. Completion of the project is scheduled for this fall.

Michael Neumann (with Partners in Progress)

TEG Tours – Christo Rey Church

TEG members and guests were treated to a visit at the Christo Rey Church on Saturday, March 16th. The adobe church built by parishioners in 1940 is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. All of the adobes for the project were made on sight. Not only is the building impressive but the stone retablo is a centerpiece of the church. The retablo was carved in 1760. TEG Tours take place every other month throughout the state of New Mexico. For information on the next tour visit our website. May’s tour will be in Bernalillo, New Mexico on Saturday, May 11th.

Pat Rutherford

Earthen Building Codes Update

Every three years, the International Code Council solicits proposals for changes to the model codes that form the basis for most local building codes in the United States. This year, there are a few proposals that would simplify the use of common earthen construction methods. Frequent TEG collaborator The Cob Research Institute has submitted a proposal to add an Appendix to the International Residential Code (IRC) providing guidelines and requirements for Monolithic Adobe (Cob) Construction. Other proposals to the International Building Code (IBC) include the proposed addition of alternatives to the use of portland cement plaster stuccos, introducing the possibility that lime and earthen plasters may be permitted in the future. The proposals will be evaluated and voted on during several meetings to be held this summer and fall; if successful, the proposals will become part of the 2022 IBC and IRC codes.

Ben Loescher

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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