ecoBUILD techologies

update 2012: new website-EcoSteps
ecoBUILD techologies has this hybrid of sand filled bags and their ecobeam, which is small lumber with a metal zig-zag in between. It was developed in South Africa as an affordable housing option requiring no skills, just perseverance, bags, and sand. Their is also a division in Israel, which markets their homes to a wealthier market.

As someone aware of the need for housing in Haiti, I think this is fantastic. With the addition of rebar ties between the floor and ceiling plate, I think this simple technology would be great in Haiti. The addition of the rebar would be for earthquake stability.

Even the Earthbag Building blog has an article on the Eco-Beam.

The video is low quality, but very informative.

The summary from their website is:
Advantages of the Ecobeam system

The Ecobeam System complies with all NHBRC requirements.
Construction can take place at locations to which road access is not provided. This reduces the damage and congestion caused by heavy trucks which carry bricks and cement.
No electricity is required at the construction site and only minimal amounts of water and cement are required.
1500 bags fit into the boot of a small car and weigh only a few kilograms. This is the equivalent of 3000 bricks over the same area in a cavity wall.
The construction technique can easily be learnt in a few days by people without experience in the building trade. A regular "builder" would pick it up immediately.
The Ecobeams are light in weight and can be easily handled by one person in all phases of the construction.
The only "wet" trade required is the plasterer. The plaster adheres easily to the sandbags and chicken wire that covers the walls. The Ecobags are made wet before the plastering process.
The wet bags behind the plaster enable the plasterwork to "cure" instead of merely drying, as it does in standard construction. The end result is a very hard and reinforced cement finish.
No bricks lie around the site before, during or after completion, thus eliminating "site-clearing", which is a major cost factor on any building site. Unused bags can be removed from the site overnight thereby reducing the incidence of theft.

The “Ecobeam System” exhibits tremendous thermal stability. The occupants will be kept cool in summer and warm in winter. The system also has excellent sound absorbing properties which help to provide a measure of privacy in close quarter living.
The “Ecobeam System” is much heavier than brick construction and is therefore wind resistant.
The “Ecobeam System” resists water penetration due to the fact that the sand in the bags is a filter medium – any water penetrating the plaster will simply “filter” down to the damp-course and exit the wall to the outside.
The “Ecobeam System” is fire resistant.
Construction rate of the “Ecobeam System” is rapid.
All members of the community can be involved, thereby creating a sense of ownership, belonging and contribution in the participants.
The walls of the “Ecobeam System” are bullet-proof.

For the potential, wealthier client here are further inducements.
  • Eco-friendly
  • Green House (Carbon footprint much less than conventional construction)
  • Up to 70% superior thermal properties
  • 3 Times greater mass than conventional building
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Superior acoustic qualities
  • Versatility of the building process allows for multiple
  • All services can be accommodated in the walls
  • Minimal building waste or losses on site
  • Creates job opportunities
  • Low skill levels required in the initial construction phase
  • Ease of transport
  • Ease of construction
  • Low transportation costs
  • Ecobeams can be manufactured anywhere
  • Between 30 to 40% lower building costs than conventional building
  • Patented technology


,jhgvl said…
Hi John - just a comment on ecobeams and NHBRC registration. We were looking to build an ecobeam house but have been informed that Ecobuild are not NHBRC registered, therefor if we build using ecobeams we will not be allowed to sell for 5 years, in the same way it would be if our house was built buy a non-NHBRC registered builder. I wondered if you could comment on this?
John Umland said…
All I can say is that stinks. I would hope the US distributor is seeking registration. I hope it works out for you.
God is good

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