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Note: Design Forward LLC is proud to have served the Southern California area designing straw bale homes for over 15 years. However, we have moved on to other business ventures and have closed the business as of January 2017. We will not taking any new projects or responding to phone and email requests. This website will be left up as an archive of data for straw bale and design. You may find that some of the links are broken or out of date, but we will not be updating this site any longer. Thank you!
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February 2007 - [Sustainable Concepts] Fair Trade and Rammed Earth
Sustainable Concepts )
Design Forward Newsletter February 2007, vol. 47
in this issue
  • Rammed Earth
  • Buy Fair Trade Chocolate for Valentines Day
  • Feedback


    Welcome to the February 2007 newsletter from Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

    Quote of the Month: "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant."
    - Anne Bradstreet

    Lisa A. Swan

    Rammed Earth

    Rammed earth, also known as "pise de terre", is an ancient building technique used to construct such historic structures as the Great Wall of China, Hannibal's watchtowers and 820 b.c. structures in ancient Carthage.

    Interest in rammed earth was renewed in this country by federal government architect and engineer Thomas Hibben in the 1930's. He supervised the building of seven rammed earth homes as part of a federal farmstead project in Mount Olive, Alabama, in 1936. Those seven homes are still inhabited today.

    Stabilized rammed earth homes and commercial projects have been increasing in popularity in Australia since the 1970's. By 1990 almost 20% of all new homes built in the community on Margaret River were rammed earth.

    Concern over energy efficiency and environmental responsibility have turned the attention of the world toward ancient building techniques such as adobe and rammed earth.

    Benefits of Rammed Earth Construction

    Energy Efficient - Two-foot thick monolithic rammed earth walls provide high thermal mass, which translates into energy savings. Both cooling and heating energy requirements are minimized, so owners for centuries to come will enjoy the comfort and savings.

    Earth Friendly - Rammed earth construction uses no wood. Crusher waste, a road building by-product, is used in the rammed earth mixture. Only 6% of the rammed earth mixture is cement; the rest is just earth and water.

    Low Maintenance - Rammed earth walls can be left exposed with a clear sealer which allows the natural color of the walls to show through. The natural look eliminates the need for paint or other continual maintenance. The interior walls may be finished in a variety of ways such as smooth plaster or mud plaster. Natural exterior walls with adobe interior walls make a particularly pleasing combination. Exterior walls can be left exposed or stuccoed in your choice of color.

    Noise Reduction - The thickness of the walls makes the rammed earth home a quiet haven, no matter how noisy the neighborhood.

    Strength and Safety - These walls don't burn! They are bullet and impact-proof too. Rammed earth walls actually get stronger as they age.

    Article & Picture © Huston Rammed Earth, Inc.

    Buy Fair Trade Chocolate for Valentines Day

    With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I though I would take a moment to remind everyone this is a great time to buy Fair Trade and Organic Chocolates.

    Why it’s important?

    Most of our chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast region of West Africa, where cocoa production is an enormous part of the economy. In Ghana, 40 percent of the country’s export revenues come from the sale of cocoa. Unfortunately, very little of the profit goes to the farmers who grow the cocoa beans. Cocoa farmers receive about a penny for a candy bar selling for 60 cents.

    In fact, the difficulty in making a living at cocoa farming has spawned an increase in child and even slave labor drawn from poor neighboring countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo. Children and other workers are forced to work long days picking and processing cocoa beans (it takes 400 of these pods to make just one pound of chocolate). Very few of the children have the opportunity to attend school.

    Fair Trade cocoa offers farmers an opportunity to make a real living. The Fair Trade Certified production criteria guarantee a minimum price and insure that no child or forced labor is used.

    Article © New American Dream


    Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable Design. If you know of a project that should be featured, please contact us. Let us know why you think it should be featured and give us a basic intro to the project, the sustainable elements and any websites or contact information.

    If you would like to submit a fun and/or entertaining quote about architecture, building, the environment or such, send it in! If it at all possible, include the author.

    If you have any other feedback concerning this publication, please feel free to send an email or use the form.

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    Revised June 1, 2010