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Company harnesses ancient construction techniques to build fire-proof homes: ‘Going to be there a thousand years from now’

“We’re trying to bring back a very good, sound, sustainable building method that’s kind of fallen by the wayside over the last 100, 200 years or so.”

Photo Credit: Advanced Earthen Construction Technologies

Photo Credit: Advanced Earthen Construction Technologies

Imagine putting some dirt from your yard into a machine and watching it come out the other end as a dense block that can be used to construct a home. 

This isn’t a fantasy — one San Antonio-based company is building on the same ancient technique used to make the Great Wall of China to help people construct homes that are fire- and hurricane-resistant. 

In a video by Mashable, Ryan Runge, owner of Advanced Earthen Construction Technologies, explained, “There are easily thousand-year-old earthen buildings still standing all over the world. And so, we’re trying to bring back a very good, sound, sustainable building method that’s kind of fallen by the wayside over the last 100, 200 years or so.”

His company uses machines that can produce around 480 compressed earth blocks per hour — in one day, they can churn out enough of them to build an entire home. The contraptions use high pressure to transform the dirt into dense building blocks.

Runge first got the idea after seeing a commercial about similar machines during a 2012 work trip in South Africa.

Besides the fact that this construction method is cheap — you can source earth from your property or nearby — the blocks have also been tested as hurricane- and fire-resistant, Mashable reports. They also insulate well in both hot and cold climates — Runge told the news outlet that earthen homes made from blocks like these “basically need no heat or air conditioning.”

Plus, they’ll likely survive the test of time. 

“You could have a 20-inch thick earthen monolithic wall system that is just going to be there a thousand years from now,” Runge said.

You can use pure dirt or stabilize the blocks with other materials like cement or lime, which make them more waterproof, he added.

This is not the only variety of earthen home out there. One TikTok creator shared a video about mudhouse construction utilizing cob (a mixture of sand, straw, and clay), which offers the same benefits as those dirt block homes.

These eco-friendly building techniques could help provide a cost-effective solution to the increased severe weather expected by scientists as our planet’s temperature continues to rise. Other examples of innovative weather-resistant building supplies are popping up all the time, too. For example, one company is using plastic waste to create a material that it says can withstand Category 5 hurricanes.

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