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A Guide to Building Earth Homes

D. Allen Hughes, PE

One of the oldest known partially standing earth block structures with walls is the tomb of King Khasekhemwy in Egypt which dates to about 2900 BC. Remains of Syrian “Beehive” houses built of mud blocks have been dated to about 3,700 BC. Currently, earth block homes are still constructed in many parts of the world. While much of earth home construction is done in developing countries, green building accounts for some earth home construction. This course introduces the concept of applying modern principles of soil mechanics to the ancient construction methods of earth home building. Application of modern principles and simple testing methods can increase the quality and performance of earth homes and improve the efficiency of their construction.

Research and testing by the Texas A&M Research Foundation, at College Station, TX, was used to quantify and develop simple testing methods to improve quality and efficiency of earth home construction methods. The research included gathering information of earth home construction from a wide range of climates and ages of structures from around the world. The research and improved methods were adopted by the US Peace Corps as their handbook for teaching and constructing earth homes in developing countries.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.