[GSBN] Data base of approved natural building codes

Andy Horn andy at ecodesignarchitects.co.za
Sun May 11 08:07:07 CDT 2014

Dear Bruce

Sorry to push you, but please will you send that survey of earthen building
standards and codes that you said you did about 6 years ago.


I am busy agitating the powers that be - and meet with a group of
stakeholders tomorrow including our Standards Bureau - and so really need as
much info as I can get my hands on.


Thanks Graeme for your update about the New Zealand codes and their
technical committee. 


Any other inputs are most welcome.


Kind regards,

Andy Horn




From: GSBN-bounces at sustainablesources.com
[mailto:GSBN-bounces at sustainablesources.com] On Behalf Of Bruce EBNet
Sent: 12 March 2014 11:17 PM
To: Global Straw Building Network
Subject: Re: [GSBN] Data base of approved natural building codes



 I did a complete survey and review, about 6 years ago, of earthen building
standards and codes around the world.  Be glad to share it, but am
super-swamped for the next week and It will take a bit of digging to find.
Since then, I know of several efforts to develop cob standards, not to
mention Martin Hammer et al recently bringing straw bale into the
International Building Code.


More soon,



Bruce King, PE





March 19 -- 22, 2014, Sausalito, CA
(415) 987-7271
Skype: brucekingokok
Twitter: @brucekinggreen 



On Mar 12, 2014, at 2:10 PM, Graeme North <graeme at ecodesign.co.nz> wrote:


On 13/03/2014, at 2:15 AM, Andy Horn <andy at ecodesignarchitects.co.za> wrote:

Hi all

While this is not specifically about straw bale building, my question
ultimately will relate back to getting a straw bale code along with other
natural building codes established for the Southern part of Africa.


I am trying to motivate our South African standards body to look at
standards for earthen buildings at the moment, of which incredibly despite
numerous earthen buildings (mostly informal or traditional), we don't have
any. As one might guess amongst other reasons the cement, steel and brick
industries are still very much in control in this country.


South Africa is part of a process amongst SADC - The Southern Africa
Development Countries - to harmonize its various standards between its
trading partners.


Zimbabwe have a rammed earth building code and this standard, after much
effort, last April has been adopted though this "SADCSTAN" process for all
member states. This was after 8 out of the 10 voting countries voted in
favour of adopting the standard. So we now have an official standard
(SADCSTAN/TC1 SC5-001 SAZ724 Standard Code of Practice for Rammed Earth
Structures ) for the SADC region that is meant to be published in each
member state by each of its various standards bodies.  


Unfortunately despite heavy lobbying by interested people, our standards
board - SABS - representing South Africa did not vote in favour of the code
and are now refusing to publish the standard locally. As such I have started
a process to try and get them to rethink their position.


As part of the detailed motivation form that I have to fill out as the
official route to get them to look at adopting a standard, I am being asked:


QUESTION 1: What other (earth) building codes, regional or national or
international - that include rammed earth - besides our Zimbabwe rammed
earth building code are there?

So far I know of:

- the New Zealand Earth building codes (NZS4297-1998, NZS4298-1998, &
NZS4299-1998,  )

- the USA Tucson Pima County earth building code  (1997 Uniform
Administrative Code Amendment for Earthen Material and Straw Bale

  Tucson/Pima County, Arizona "APPENDIX CHAPTER 71 - EARTHEN MATERIAL

- the German earth building codes: National Material Code for Prefabricated
Earth Products DIN 18945 till -47 (blocks, masonry mortar, plaster)


(I still need to investigate and contact Craterre-EAG in this regard and
perhaps UNESCO)


QUESTION 2: What international or foreign national technical committee's
working in this field are there?


Earth Building Standards 


Standards New Zealand Committee BD/083 is currently revising the three earth
buildings standards. (Engineering, Materials and Workmanship, and Deemed to

Currently they cover mud brick, pressed earth brick, and rammed earth with a
nod to poured earth, cob, earth plasters and earth floors. 

They will now fully cover mud brick/adobe, cob, rammed earth, pressed earth
brick, poured earth, internal earth brick veneers, earth floors and earth

The range of densities of earthen materials they will now include will be
between 800 and 2000 kg/cub.m, with walls between 280 and 500mm thick




Getting our SABS to adopt the rammed earth code would be a major foot in the
door for us to get our corporate minded authorities to re-consider earth and
other natural materials as a viable and sustainable way to build.  


However, this would I believe just be the start of a drive to push for codes
for all natural building and appropriate technology type codes... including
the ICC's straw bale and light straw clay standard of course as well as
others like cob, adobe, wattle and daub, earth bag, sandbag, urbanite,
stone, bamboo, bottle walls, cordwood, earthen plasters etc. So....


QUESTION 3: In addition to codes on rammed earth, I would be interested in
knowing about any other natural building codes that may exist.....so please
send any links or info you know of that you think will be of help.


Perhaps to stream line things in your responses you can add a prefix:

1 - Earth building codes

2 - Natural building Technical code committees  

3 - Other natural building code


I am looking forward to your many - I hope - inputs and once I have compiled
as complete a list as possible, I will email it back for everyone.


Many thanks

Andy Horn








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