I just found out about the Earth Building Academy and their online courses. They have been teaching for 20 years and recently ran a free online pizza oven course and had confirmation that online courses really work. They currently are offering a 3 month series of online classes that starts on Monday, January 18th and they will cap numbers to make sure the live program experience remains productive.

Here is what the program entails:

Week 1: Introduction to Natural Building

Lecture: A short introduction to Earth and Natural Building – Different building techniques using natural materials, advantages and limitations of the building material earth, earth building from a Building Biology/Ecology (BBE) perspective

Hands-on session: Using local materials – Soil identification, simple material tests, sourcing materials locally, determining which earth building techniques are most suitable for your materials, trialing ratios for various mixes

Week 2: Retrofitting with Natural Materials

Lecture: Retrofitting with Natural Materials – Options for non-load bearing walls and wall surfaces, when using earth as thermal mass material, for sound proofing, to regulate indoor humidity and to beautify your living spaces

Hands-on session: Demonstration of three non-load bearing techniques: Wattle-and-Daub (Quincha), Light Earth Infill (LEM) and Interior Adobe Brick Veneer, materials and workmanship, construction details, sequence of work and drying times, artistic play with form and texture.

Week 3: Earth and Lime Based Natural Plasters

Lecture: Introduction to Natural Plasters – Using earth and lime to create stunning, durable and well detailed solid plaster coatings over a variety of substrates. Binders, aggregates, mix ratios, structure and tools.

Hands-on session: Mixing and applying earthen and lime based plasters in several coats – Work steps, application techniques, tool and tricks of the trade, specialty techniques such as Sgraffito and Tadelakt.

Week 4: Natural Paints and Sealants

Lecture: Natural Paints and Sealants – History or natural paints, environmental and health impacts of paints and sealants, earthen pigments, time-tested proven recipes, traditional painting techniques such as Alis and Al Fresco.

Hands-on session: Making natural paints and sealants – clay paint, milk paint, lime wash, clear casein sealer, floor hardening oil and bee’s wax polish, linseed oil paint, etc. Demonstration of application techniques and artistic techniques such as Al Fresco painting.

Week 5: Earthen Floors

Lecture: Earthen Floors – Detailing and construction of poured earth and Adobe tile floors, testing mixes, making floor tiles and mortar. How to finish your earthen floor, tips on maintenance.

Hands-on session: Demonstration of Adobe tile making, laying Adobe tiles, making different mixes for poured earth floors, work steps, finishing earthen floors with hardening oil and bee’s wax polish.

Week 6: Group Consultancy & Guest Speaker

Week 7: Load-bearing Earthen Wall Systems

Lecture: Introduction to various load-bearing Earthen Wall Systems – Adobe brick, rammed earth and cob. Advantages and limitations of each technique to make an informed choice about which technique is suitable depending on local materials, skills, building logistics and budget.

Hands-on session: Demonstration of cob, rammed earth and adobe brick technique.

Week 8: Design, Building Codes & Quantity Surveying

Lecture: Design of Earth Buildings – Site requirements, structural design for wind and earthquake, constructive weather protection, durability and energy efficiency of earthen buildings, introduction to material testing.

Practice: Bracing demand calculation, brick count and calculating insulation values of various mixes.

Week 9: Adobe Brick Technique

Theory: The Adobe brick technique – A detailed look at a very versatile and simple building technique that can be used for both load-bearing and veneer walls. Options for manufacturing Adobe bricks, material testing, Light Adobe for improved thermal performance.

Hands-on session: Demonstration of Adobe brick making using both traditional and light mixes, mixing and yard set-up, drying, stacking, material testing (strength and durability) to comply with regulations.

Week 10: Construction & Building Site Logistics

Lecture: Adobe Construction – Efficient set-up of building site, material logistics, laying patterns for different wall thicknesses, designing to module, allowing for settlement, drying and weather protection during construction.

Hands-on session: Demonstration of building site set-up – required tools, profiles, running stringlines. How to make Adobe mortar, lay Adobe Bricks incl. installation of vertical and horizontal reinforcing, cut and drill bricks. Site Safety.

Week 11: Detailing, Services & Wall Finishes

Lecture: Construction Details – Installation of windows and doors (including flashings and window sills), running power, installing power points, top plates and wall-to-roof connections, plumbing in earthen buildings, adjoining work and options for wall-finishing.

Hands-on session: Demonstration of installation of gringo blocks, window sills, conduits and flush boxes for power, top plate, wall tensioning, as well as adjoining work and the hand-rub method for a simple and beautiful finish (including application of breathable sealer)

Week 12: Group Consultancy & Celebration of Participant’s Projects

You can sign up for this online course or find out more about it at the Earth Building Academy


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