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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Diagram of compost
Building compost guide. There are many ways to build a good compost. This page shows a method that comes from a rural, developing world perspective, although it could easily be used or adapted elsewhere. The aim is to build a quick decomposing hot compost that is made from locally available materials, which can easily be gathered and built in a rural setting. The work in building a large compost is often shared amongst a number of people, with the final compost being used by each one when appropriate.

The method of building compost can be different depending on the amount of compost required, materials available, type of compost and particularly the climate of the region.
Pit compost: Pit compost is ideal for areas with medium to low rainfall. The depth of the pit will depend upon the amount of rainfall. The less the rainfall the deeper the pit should be to prevent the rapid loss of water, which is essential in the natural production of compost. In some dry regions it has been known for pits to be dug as deep as 3ft. For example, this type of compost is used in the dryer and warmer parts of central and northern Uganda.
Heap compost: Probably the best way of making vegetation compost in areas of heavy and frequent rainfall. A farmer does not need to build a deep pit to build this type of compost. In regions of heavy rainfall, water would remain standing in a pit resulting in an inadequate flow of nutrients and the production of peat rather than compost. For example, this type is used in the temperate mountainous regions of eastern Uganda and western Kenya.
Trench compost: This involves the building of the compost for convenience close to where it is needed or the source raw material.

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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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