[GSBN] Data base of approved natural building codes

Feile Butler feile at mudandwood.com
Sun May 11 08:54:41 CDT 2014

Hi Andy

This won't help you with the data base of existing earthen standards (which I too would love to get my hands on) - but it will help with my recent effort to get a handle on who is practising in earth out there.

This map of earth buildings, earth workshops and practitioners has been developed by Cra-Terre in France. Please feel free to add yourselves to it (I still have to get around to it), particularly any of your recent, contemporary work.


Kind Regards

Féile Butler
MRIAI B.Arch Dip. Arch Conservation Grade III

Assigned Certifier

Co-Director of Earth Buidling UK

Mud and Wood

Grange Beg, Skreen, Co. Sligo, Ireland

T:  +353 (0) 71 930 0488 

M: +353 (0) 86 806 8382

E : feile at mudandwood.com

W: www.mudandwood.com

----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Andy Horn 
  To: 'Global Straw Building Network' 
  Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2014 2:07 PM
  Subject: Re: [GSBN] Data base of approved natural building codes

  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 Structures)


  - 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 Comply)

  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 plasters.

  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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