Portal:Construction and materials

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The Construction and materials Portal

Kiva's straw bale greenhouse
An alternative or natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those that, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. Natural building tends to rely on human labor, more than technology. As Michael G. Smith observes, it depends on "local ecology, geology and climate; on the character of the particular building site, and on the needs and personalities of the builders and users."

The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort, health or aesthetics. To be more sustainable, natural building uses primarily abundantly available, renewable, reused or recycled materials. The use of rapidly renewable materials is increasingly a focus. In addition to relying on natural building materials, the emphasis on the architectural design is heightened. The orientation of a building, the utilization of local climate and site conditions, the emphasis on natural ventilation through design, fundamentally lessen operational costs and positively impact the environmental. Building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment and water reuse.

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Monolithic dome office
Monolithic domes are constructed following a method that requires a tough, inflatable Airform, steel-reinforced concrete and a polyurethane foam insulation. Each of these ingredients is used in a technologically specific way. This technology was developed by the Monolithic Dome Institute (MDI). The domes can be designed to fit any architectural need: homes, cabins, churches, schools, gymnasiums, arenas and stadiums, bulk storages, landlord dwellings and various other privately or publicly owned facilities. The dome, when finished, is earthquake, tornado and hurricane resistant (FEMA rates them as "near-absolute protection" from F5 tornadoes and Category 5 Hurricanes).

MDI has also developed the technology to build so-called "EcoShells". These are simple structures to provide for the basic needs of a family. They are designed specifically to answer the needs of shelterless people worldwide. They are strong structures that can withstand natural disasters, fire, termites and rot. In underdeveloped areas with hot climates, EcoShells make affordable, low maintenance, sturdy housing. In industrialized nations, EcoShells make superior workshops, garages, storage sheds, etc.

How it’s Built: For a 6-meter dome, you need: 50 bags of cement, 2500’ roll of basalt reinforcing or fiberglass, about 5 cubic meters of small size concrete aggregate, an Airform that can be used hundreds of times, a small inflator fan and a few workers primarily with hand tools.

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Project articles: Bloomfield Cobb Bench · Blue ox earthen oven · CCAT's living roof · CCAT Natural Paint Project · CCAT's Vermicomposting Bin · DIF Adobe Senior Center · Garden house cob oven · Kiva’s straw bale greenhouse · Recycling agricultural wastes to produce hot water (original) · Sunny Brae Yurt · Sustainably built cottage (original) · Tire shingles


Other articles: Bathroom Toilet Unit · Building with Pumice · Clay Brick and Tile Moulding Equipment · Concrete Block Producing Equipment · Construction techniques · Cooling · Cooling Homes in the Hot, Humid Tropics · Cordwood construction · Ferrocement Applications in Developing Countries · Greenmanure · Humus · Harvesting sheet metal · Heating · Humanure or reutilizing your own body wastes · Mastic · Monolithic Domes · Other manures · Pallet home · Quake Safe · Rice Hulls in Construction · Small Scale Production of Lime for Building · Structural Insulated Panels · Systems construction · Tetrapak roofing · Weld wood

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