The Advantages of Compressed Earth Blocks (CEBs)

Low Costs:

Show/Hide

  • Our costs are far less expensive when compared with similar quality building techniques.
  • Currently there are no other CEB press manufacturers in the UK. But for comparison, a machine of comparable efficiency in the USA costs between $45k (Powell and Sons, approx £30k) and $65K (AECT approx £45k).
  • However, the machines that we are offering are far cheaper than this stated amount.
  • These massive reductions are possible thanks to our open source approach. You can find out more about what open source is by clicking here.
  • We can compete with lower prices since our raw materials are plentiful, unskilled labour can be used and manufacturing can occur locally.
  • If you’re calculating the costs of buying a CEBs press machine then you have 3 options. You can buy a CEB press machine from us, you can hire one from us or you can even build one yourself using open source designs.

Ultra-Efficient:

Show/Hide

Firstly, using a mechanised production process, our CEB press machines can produce bricks at an industrial rate. Secondly, CEBs use a uniform building component size, this means that the construction of buildings is rapid and regular compared with other materials such as earth bags which use irregular component sizes.

1) Machine Efficiency

  • 12 Bricks per minute
  • Thousands of bricks per day
  • Allows for the rapid building of homes, walls, floors and other constructions.
  • See the video below to see how fast CEBs can be produced:

2) Uniform building component sizes

  • CEBs are made to an exact shape and size. They all have perpendicular 90 degree angles at the corners.
  • This makes the designing and cost evaluation of buildings much easier.
  • This is compared with other building methods such as cordwood and earthbags which use irregular materials
  • Not to forget that construction is also much easier and faster. In comparison, earthbags become increasingly difficult to lift up and build upon as the walls become higher. This isn’t the case with CEBs.
  • Regular construction sizes also produce less waste as there are fewer gaps between the components. Material and labour costs are thus reduced as the need for mortar to fill the gaps is decreased.
  • Because CEBs are modular building elements, they can be integrated with other pre-built components such as metal sheet roofing.

Easy to Build:

Show/Hide

  • A major advantage of CEB construction is that buildings can be rapidly built using unskilled labor.
  • The skill level required is thus lower than that of a traditional brick and mortar construction.
  • A simple mud slurry rather than cement based mortar – this is much easier to work with. No special brick laying skills needed.
  • The encourages self-sufficiency and also community involvement and increases the speed at which walls can be constructed.
  • Traditional masonary work also requires a thick layer of mortar between the bricks (between a quarter and half an inch) whereas CEBs only require a thin slurry to be constructed between the bricks. Plus this slurry mix can be created using the same soil mix that is used to create the CEB.
  • There is also no need to wait for the mortar which occurs with traditional brick laying where builders have to wait after a few rows for the mortar to set up.
  • Finally, the bricks can be stabilized with reject lime, cement or fly ash if you choose to do so. This means they can be used with standard masonry techniques.

Environmentally Friendly:

Show/Hide

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more ecological building material than the earth itself and CEBs use just that.

  • The transportation costs for the construction of CEBS are practically non-existant since the raw materials of earth can almost always be found locally. This reduces the carbon footprint that is normally high in the construction of bricks due to the amount of fuel that is used in the transportation of the materials.
  • The production of the CEB itself also requires hardly any energy when compared with traditional bricks which must be heated before use. Without the need for heat, CEBs save large amounts of energy.
  • The earth used in the production of the CEB is actually subsoil which leaves the nutrient rich topsoil. This healthy topsoil can then still be used for agriculture.
  • The resulting hole can also be put to use. It can become a basement, cellars, cister, pond or smoothed out to blend in with the landscape.
  • There is no wastage: leftover bricks can be turned back into soil.
  • Finally, the earth is non-toxic, completely natural material that has been used for thousands of years and is one of the most ecologically friendly building materials available.

Built for Life:

Show/Hide

  • Earth brick building techniques have been used for thousands of years and the results from these building efforts have lasted just as long. There are numerous examples including clan homes in Fujian and many ancient pyramids in Egypt
  • We aim to keep this track record by constructing buildings that are strong, durable and weather resistant. Our construction standards are higher than those used in many modern day constructions.
  • The CEB press machines used are designed to last decades and not years. Planned obselescnce is a terrible part of our society whereby a company deliberately designs a product to fail so that it must be discarded and new products purchased. We believe in the opposite philosophy.
  • Our machines are designed so that they will last for decades and that they can be easily maintained and upgraded over the years.
  • The idea is to give you a machine which you will be able to pass onto your grandchildren.
  • This is all aided thanks to the use of open source technology. Anyone can see the designs and plans of our machines which means they can be frequently updated and improved upon.
  • The machines can then be used in combination with other open source technology as provided in the Global Village Construction Set.

Strength:

Show/Hide

  • A CEB block can have a compressive strength as high as 2,000 pounds per square inch (psi) with the average compressive strength being around 1,200 psi.
  • This is stronger than many convential building materials and can easily hold a roof.
  • However, the strength of each brick depends upon the soil quality and the amount of pressure applied. This is why we use a tried and tested soil mixture and combine it our hydraulic CEB press machines. Our machines then apply ridiculous amounts of pressure so that only the best quality earth bricks are created.
  • These bricks are tested using a strict set of standards. Since building standards for using CEBs are still relatively new in the UK, we use the more comprehensive standards developed in New Mexico, America (the ASTM D1633-00 stabilization standard) when testing the compressive strength of a brick. This ensures that our building materials are at least as strong as other materials such as adobe, but in reality the strength is far greater.
  • See the video below for the compressive strength of a CEB:


Thermal:

Show/Hide

Compressed earth bricks will lose and gain their heat at a slower rate than the surrounding air. This allows CEB buildings to store warmth in the cold weather and remain cool in hot weather.

Heating

  • By themselves CEBs are fairly decent heat insulators. However, combine them with other insulation materials and their heat retaining properties really begin to perform.
  • This insulation can be simply placed between two rows of CEB blocks.
  • A gap between the walls of 2-3 feet can be filled with a common straw/soil mixture.
  • Other insulation options include styrofoam, sawdust/lime mixture, perlite and more.

Water Resistance:

Show/Hide

  • There are two types of CEBs you can produce (stabilized CEBs and unstabilized CEBS).
  • Stabilized CEBs are combine soil with other materials such as reject lime, thus creating a weather resistant brick.
  • Unstabilized CEBs are made from a simple soil mixture which is more vulnerable to the weather.
  • Fortunately, unstabilized CEBs can be easily made weather resistant.
  • Applying a stucco coating does just that and makes any walls constructed weather resistant.
  • Additional roofing or overhangs also aid in the protection against the elements.
  • Because earth bricks are compressed, most of the moisture is squeezed out of the brick. This means that even humid earth can be used in the construction of CEBs. In fact, some soil conditions allow the brick to be placed immediately on the wall, straight after pressing has occurred. Additionally, because no cellulose material is used in the construction of the brick, they become mold resistant.

Locally produced:

Show/Hide

CEBs are made from the earth of which there is a practically unlimited supply, they are the epitome of locally made.

  • This supports the local economy as the money isn’t spent importing materials, replacement parts, fuels and shipping costs.
  • This helps to employ people locally.
  • The waiting times for materials are also very low.
  • Even the mortar can be produced from the CEB mix, the water is simply added.
  • These factors combine to make CEB production more resiliant to other economic effects such as the rises in oil prices or times of economic depression.
  • It’s like creating your very own local brickworks.

Fire, sound, insect & mold resistant:

Show/Hide

  • Fire resistant: unlike timber, earth walls take a very long time to burn.
  • Mold resistant: woods, and drywall contain cellulose which mold feeds on. Because a CEB does not contain this, it is mold resistant.
  • Insect resistant: compressed earth bricks are so dense that they prevent insects from infiltrating houses.
  • Sound resistant: earth walls are very good at dampening sounds and so work well near industrial zones, railroads or simply in heavily populated residential areas.

CEB buildings are beautiful:

Show/Hide

Click here to see some examples.


Open Source:

Show/Hide

Click here to find out more about what open source is and how it benefits you.


Disadvantages:

Show/Hide

  • The use of CEBs in the UK is very uncommon. Because of this many people misinterpret what CEBs are about and they don’t understand that CEBs are a high quality and eco-friendly alternative to common building construction methods.
  • The CEB press machine itself is requires some raw materials such as steel to be constructed and this raw material must be imported from abroad. However, the manufacturing of this steel is local.
  • The CEB press at present is not designed to produce roof shingles, however, research into this area is occuring allowing for possible future CEB roofing alternatives.

More Information:

Find out What are CEBs?
Find out How CEBs compare with other building materials
Find out about our Open Source Approach

Interested in the CEB Press?

Buy It

Rent It

Build It