A Report of Contemporary Rammed Earth Construction and Research in North America
Contemporary stabilized rammed earth (SRE) draws upon traditional rammed earth (RE) methods and materials, often incorporating reinforcing steel and rigid insulation, enhancing the structural and energy performance of the walls while satisfying building codes. SRE structures are typically engineered by licensed Structural Engineers using the Concrete Building Code or the Masonry Building Code. The construction process of SRE creates structural walls of relatively high compressive strength appropriate for a broad range of heating and cooling climates. The incorporation of rigid insulation creates a high mass interior wythe that is thermally separated from the exterior, resulting in improved thermal performance. Modular aluminum reinforced formwork allows walls to be built without the use of through ties, common in concrete construction. The North American Rammed Earth Builders Association (NAREBA) collaborated with Unisol Engineering Ltd. and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) on a battery of tests to obtain preliminary data to be used in support of engineering design. The tests included compressive strength comparisons, pull out rebar testing of both horizontally and vertically placed steel, simple beam tests, and the deflection of two composite wall columns with an insulation core and two types of reinforcing steel connections between the RE wythes.
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