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Extramural Research

Grantee Research Project Results

Grantee Research Project Results

Comparing the Sustainability of a Compressed Earth Block House to a Conventionally Framed House Built to National Green Building Standards

EPA Grant Number: SU835090
Title: Comparing the Sustainability of a Compressed Earth Block House to a Conventionally Framed House Built to National Green Building Standards
Investigators: Holliday, Lisa M. , Butko, Daniel J. , Graham, Charles , McManus, Bill , Williams, Scott
Institution: University of Oklahoma
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $14,897
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2011)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Energy


This project will allow a multi-disciplinary team of students to design, field- test, construct, instrument, analyze, and document a Habitat for Humanity (HFH) house built of compressed earth blocks (CEB). This house will be built adjacent to a new conventional frame house built to National Green Building Standards, which will also be instrumented and monitored. Attributes of the two houses relating to all aspects of sustainability as defined by the National Green Building Standard will be compared. The results will be distributed to Habitat for Humanity International, their affiliates, and other interested parties worldwide.


To determine the value of CEB housing through rigorous testing and head-to-head comparison with conventional wood framing techniques. The knowledge gained from this project will be used to develop and disseminate best practices for CEB housing construction.


CEB technology will enable people to build and live in houses that increase their own prosperity through energy and cost efficiency while reducing the overall environmental impact on the planet. University students, HFH staff and volunteers, and others from the community will learn sustainable design concepts and construction techniques which will be viable for almost any location on the planet.

Expected Results:

During Phase I, the student team will 1) develop a CEB soil mix design; 2) laboratory test CEB samples to determine their properties; 3) build and test full height wall assemblies to determine their properties and constructability; 4) create preliminary HFH construction documents; and, 5) develop the research protocols for instrumenting and analyzing the conventional and CEB houses.

Supplemental Keywords:

Earthen Building Materials, Residential Construction, Building Code, Compressed Earth Block (CEB)

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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