Good Earth Global Earthbag Construction
Good Earth Global
Good Earth Global (previously Good Earth Nepal) employs and promotes Earthbag technology. This technology is a wall system made with soil stuffed inside polypropylene bags, which are then stacked and adhered using barbed wire as mortar.
Good Earth Global (previously Good Earth Nepal) employs and promotes Earthbag technology and other sustainable building methods and teaches these methods to others. Using earthbag construction they help villagers in developing countries build disaster-resistant, affordable and eco-friendly homes and schools, and teach an emerging class of builders, architects and engineers to build safely and sustainably.
Earthbag technology is a wall system, with structures composed primarily of ordinary soil found at the construction site. The soil is stuffed inside polypropylene bags, which are then staggered like masonry and solidly tamped. Barbed wire is used between the layers of bags and serves as mortar. For seismically active zones, reinforcements like buttresses, vertical rebars and bond beams are recommended. The classical foundation used in earthbag construction is a rubble trench foundation. The roof design can be by preference, as long as it is lightweight.
*Please note that building designs are being included as “products” in the Habitat Sector of the Solutions Library to allow readers to learn from how projects were designed and constructed and how they are serving the occupants, whether effective or ineffective.
Good Earth Global.
Good Earth Global estimates that earth bag construction costs approximately $9 USD (900 Nepalese Rupee) per square foot while more conventional concrete block costs $25 USD (2500 Nepalese Rupee).
Earthbag construction in Nepal competes with rubble stone and mud, concrete block, and confined masonry construction.
Goal 1 and 11: Train people how to build well with earthbags so that they can improve their quality of life and build more sustainable communities.
Polypropylene bags, barbed wire, rebar, and sand and cement mix are purchased elsewhere and brought to site. The earth used in the bags and the rubble for the foundation are found on the site.
Earth bag construction is an open source building method; no patents appear to be enforced.
Good Earth Global offers programs that include:
Training and education: Standard 7-day workshops, private workshops, on-site trainings, lectures and presentations, conferences and exhibitions.
Build with them: Good Earth Nepal offers services for the design and management of Earthbag projects and can include everything from conducting site surveys and evaluation, performing cost and budget estimates, meeting with the community and obtaining commitments for required labor and support, designing structures, purchasing equipment and supplies from local merchants, hiring local laborers, establishing a worksite and accommodating volunteers and interns, managing and supervising the construction, and safety inspection.
Good Earth Global has a collection of detailed drawings for earthbag buildings that are freely available upon request.
Good Earth Global has 30 completed earthbag designs as well as hybrid designs for specific geographical requirements. Thirteen earthbag projects are outlined on the Good Earth Nepal website.
Indication of whether design can be replicated in multiple locations
Number of individuals. 1 family = 5 persons.
Number of days from start of construction to completion
Surface area of footprint
Number of occupiable floors (ground floor only = 1)
Primary materials used
Composite estimated R-value
As calculated by designer
As calculated by designer
Based upon primary structural system as per the International Building Code
Based upon Structural Occupancy Category and soil conditions of site; as per the International Building Code
List of suitable climates for use of this design
The main building materials are soil, Polypropylene bags or tubes, and barbed wire. Components that can be added to make a building more earthquake resistant include a rubble trench foundation, thick walls (16 – 19″), concrete bond beams, and reinforcements that include vertical rebars, buttresses, and corner reinforcement.
Detailed specifications can be found in an article titled Earthbag Technology – Simple, Safe and Sustainable, by Dr. Owen Geiger, Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building, and Kateryna Zemskova, Co-Founder and President of Good Earth Nepal. The article was published in the Nepal Engineer’s Association Technical Journal.
Technical support can be provided by builders who Good Earth Nepal has trained in earthbag construction.
It is unlikely that repairs are needed (see Lifecycle section), however additional bags and other required materials can be purchased separately should sections of a structure need to be rebuilt.
Though the full lifespan is unknown, some of the earliest earth-bag structures, such as those constructed by Nader Khalili, founder of CalEarth, have been standing for 20 years. An estimated 55 Earthbag structures built in Nepal survived the 2015 earthquake.
Performance targets include safety, ease of construction, reduced use of materials, reduced use of fuel and transportation, less pollution, and cost effective.
Structural engineers reviewed the standard earth bag designs submitted to the government of Nepal. Earthbags are now included in the building code. Although Good Earth Nepal has not had the resources to conduct a shake table test, 55 earthbag buildings withstood the 2015 Nepal earthquake.Interview with representative
Good Earth Global has gained their knowledge from the practical field testing done by key experts including Dr. Owen Geiger.Interview with representative
Workers are subject to the general dangers of a construction site such as working from heights and with sharp tools. Earth bag construction does not require the operation of any large machinery.
Complimentary technical systems include earthen flooring, wood frame with slate tiles or corrugated metal panel roofing, or HyPar thin shell concrete roof.
Croft C, and Heath A. 2011. Structural Resistance of Earthbag Housing Subjected to Horizontal Loading. University of Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.Geiger O. 2015. Earthbag Building Guide (Abridged and Adapted for Builders) – Special Edition by Osho Tapoban Publications.
Kaki H, and Kiffmeyer D. (2004). Earthbag Building: The Tools, Tricks and Techniques (1st Edition). British Columbia, Canada: New Society Publishers.
Vadgama N, and Heath A. 2010. A Material and Structural Analysis of Earthbag Housing. University of Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.
Good Earth Global’s earthbag design and protocols have been approved and published by Nepali Federal Government, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC).
Good Earth Global receives feedback from community members who they are training and the final occupants of the building.Interview with representative
Bidoun (2004). Bidoun. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from: http://bidoun.org/Wikipedia (2016). Rubble Trench Foundation. Retrieved March 12, 2016, from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubble_trench_foundation
Geiger, O. (2013). Natural Building Blog – Earthbag Building & Other Natural Building Methods. Retrieved August 1, 2015, from http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/Good Earth Nepal (2015). Retrieved January 10, 2016, from: http://www.goodearthnepal.org/
Hart, K. & Geiger O. (n.d.). EarthbagBuilding.com: Sharing information and promoting Earthbag building. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from: http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/
Geiger, O., Hart, K. & Stouter, P. (n.d.). EarthbagStructures.com: Earthbag Solutions for Disaster- Prone Regions. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from: http://earthbagstructures.com/
Stouter, P. (2015, May). Earthbag Options for Nepal: Draft Guidelines for Reinforcement. Retrieved September 15, 2015, from http://buildsimple.org/resource-lists.php
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