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Our Rammed Earth Passive House and Intro!

 
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Hello! I am new here, and this is my first post. My significant other and I build Rammed Earth houses and other structures. We are located in Northern Alberta (Grande Prairie to be specific). We build with stabilized rammed earth, so basically concrete. Cool thing is that we wont be building with the same amount of cement soon. We are in partnership with with UBCO (University of BC Okanagan) to test pulp mill fly ash as a partial stabilizer for our product.

I'll get to the point here, Dennis built his rammed earth home 12 years ago with an atrium attached on the south west side. Well... the atrium isn't finished (yet), he built the deck and was intending to build the rest of it but you know.... life gets in the way especially with 4 children. The home is 4000 square feet and passive solar designed. He said it isn't at its full potential of passive solar design efficiency (his ex was against the whole efficiency thing and wanted the house a certain layout). I tracked the amount of btu's we use a year, and its under the average amount for Alberta. Which is cool- knowing we have a heated garage that isn't sealed well, and i'm assuming 4000 sqft is not the average footprint size of houses in Alberta. We are hoping to finish the atrium this year! We have some windows salvaged from a commercial rammed earth job we did at UBCO that we will be using on the atrium (SCORE!!).

So, I'm sure all of the permies here all know about the earthship buildings. Which are super cool! But unfortunately don't work well in in the northern hemisphere (from what I have read, I haven't experienced anything first hand). Well, those buildings are made with a type of Rammed Earth, our process is a little different. We form it the same way as concrete, then mix the aggregate, colour, cement and water in a mixer connected to our skid steer. We dump each mixed load (evenly) into the forms then tamp down every layer (lift by lift). A very time consuming and laborious job, that's for sure!!!

I have read about Sepp Holzer about 10 years ago and was inspired by his book for permaculture and sustainability. Since living with Dennis (on his 4 acre lot), we have inspired each others passions in sustainability, we will be building a natural pool. Have built a hugekultur garden, and we have bees and chickens! I love this way of life and have always aspired for this way of living. We aren't 100% sustainable but we will be there one day .

Thanks for reading my post, hope you enjoyed reading it! Let me know if you have any questions at all, I am more than happy to share our experiences, knowledge and day in the life. If you live in a passive solar home I want to see your pics! If you're interested in following our business on social media, we are Innovative Earth  on facebook. We do have linkedIn and Alignable. https://www.facebook.com/innovativeearth.ca/ is our facebook URL - I post many updates on here and pictures - please have a looksy

Hope all is well in everyone's life and everyone is keeping safe and living as sustainable as they can! <3 <3

PS I have attached a few photos of our front garden, house, atrium (which is way bigger than it looks in these pics btw-about 700 sq ft) to give you a glimpse of our home and product!
20150316_194627_HDR.JPG
Kitchen and Living Room
Kitchen and Living Room
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front of home
front of home
20150317_113722_HDR.JPG
atrium
atrium
IMG_7750.JPG
retaining wall garden
retaining wall garden
20150317_113750_HDR.JPG
house!
house!
 
pollinator
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Interesting concept. Do you find the 4000sq. feet too much?
 
pollinator
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Kirsten Cook wrote:....We are in partnership with with UBCO (University of BC Okanagan) to test pulp mill fly ash as a partial stabilizer for our product. ....



Welcome to permies Kirsten,  could you tell us about the pulp mill fly ash?  I'd love to see a picture of the ash!  Not all ash is equal: some is a dirty grey, and some is a white  -I'd like to see to get an idea of how much combustion this ash gone thru.   The rocket mass heaters put out ash also so this leads me to my next question; what is the percentage of ash per earth ratio?

Again welcome!
 
Kirsten Cook
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Orin Raichart wrote:I'd love to see a picture of the ash!  Not all ash is equal: some is a dirty grey, and some is a white  -I'd like to see to get an idea of how much combustion this ash gone thru.   The rocket mass heaters put out ash also so this leads me to my next question; what is the percentage of ash per earth ratio?

Again welcome!



Thanks 😊! Unfortunately I can’t share that information. I was told until the Research building project is done then I can share that info! Sorry!! The colour is I believe a slight grey, but there is no processing done, it’s a bi product, straight from the mill. Unfortunately not every pulp mill fly ash can be used, it has to be tested in the lab first.
But if you would like more info check out her publication
https://news.ok.ubc.ca/2018/04/23/new-research-modernizes-rammed-earth-construction/

Dr. Sumi is a very sweet woman and knows her stuff! She has many publications and papers done in engineering and other fields of education.
 
Kirsten Cook
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John C Daley wrote:Interesting concept. Do you find the 4000sq. feet too much?



Not really, I do like the openness of the rooms. But it can be a lot of space to maintain. He originally wanted it one level, but changed their minds I guess. He said he would have liked for it to be more of an efficient design, but you know, crazy ex woman was stubborn!

We will just have to build a super efficient Rammed earth house next! 😀
 
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Beautiful house! I love rammed earth, the look, the cozy thermal mass, everything. It's very well suited to making a passive solar heated home if your chance to build anew ever comes up.

I live in a passive solar heated rammed earth home, but our rammed earth is not stabilised (just mud) and is a rougher technique so it is plastered.
 
Kirsten Cook
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Rebecca Norman wrote:Beautiful house! I love rammed earth, the look, the cozy thermal mass, everything. It's very well suited to making a passive solar heated home if your chance to build anew ever comes up.

I live in a passive solar heated rammed earth home, but our rammed earth is not stabilised (just mud) and is a rougher technique so it is plastered.



Thanks Rebecca! Please post a link to pictures of your home, I would love to see them. We would like to build with no cement, which is possible, but unfortunately in Canada we need to have an engineer to sign off on our buildings. We have to build with with re-bar, cement and it has to be above a certain MPA strength or it will not pass code!

Passive solar is awesome- It is 5Celsius outside an the sun is shining right now. I had to open the windows because its sooo warm inside. Its been getting to 23C inside during the day.
 
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what a lovely house.  As to using fly ash that likely will work as it is the Pozzolana lime also spelled pozzuolana, or pozzolan, hydraulic cement discovered by the Romans and still used in some countries, made by grinding pozzolana (a type of slag that may be either natural— i.e., volcanic—or artificial, from a blast furnace) with powdered hydrated lime.   I see no reason this wont work as the lime to make up for cement.. That said you might wish to mix the fly ash and lime 50% each. I have seen this mentioned in a variety of sources both online and in various books I have read.. It might be worth investigating.  

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0950061816317986

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282107831_Mechanical_Properties_and_Durability_of_Lime_and_Natural_Pozzolana_Stabilized_Steam-Cured_Compressed_Earth_Block_Bricks
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