Interlocking Compressed Earth Block Buildings: Low-Cost Earthquake Resistant Construction Using Indigenous Materials (Earth2Block)

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2011 - $46,983

The need for low-cost, seismically resistant housing in Southeast Asia is compelling for two reasons: the region’s seismic activity and its large, dense populations of low-income purchasers. In order to meet the need for earthquake resistant, inexpensive housing, this team is partnering with a Thai NGO to promote interlocking compressed earth block (ICEB) construction in the area. ICEBs are made by compressing soil with the right combination of fines (silt and clay) and sand with a small amount of water and cement so that they are stable enough to be handled right after pressing and do not erode when they come into contact with water. ICEBs are environmentally friendly and can be made locally by lower-skilled laborers with minimal training.

Specifically, the team is developing manuals for seismically resistant ICEB construction and traveling to Thailand and Indonesia to build a culturally appropriate prototype ICEB structure and ensure its safety. The team’s partner NGO, which has a business model that combines a revolving fund with income from training courses and sales of equipment, is adding this to their product line and taking on responsibility for scaling and implementation in the region.