Different earth construction techniques are used all over the world. The main material for the construction is soil that can be obtained locally. Ancient earth construction techniques have been improved and modernized. Today almost 50% of the world population lives in earth construction houses and buildings. Earth construction is sustainable. The ecological footprint is low because earth-houses are constructed involving local community (local work schemes). Earth construction can be found in several parts of the world. Including sophisticated communities such as ecovillages.
In many times the earth construction techniques are linked to the concept of permaculture. There are several other techniques of earth construction that was born from the 'vernacular architecture in Africa.
The rammed earth walls have passive solar heat gain; passive cooling; indoor thermal comfort; and uses natural and reclaimed materials.
This technique can be applied in any part of the world. When there is soil, sand and water available. Rammed earth for instance can be applied by local community to solve housing problems. Earth construction can be developed not only in rural areas but urban areas as well.
There is less environmental impact regarding extraction, industrialisation, energy and water use and transportation. Mechanical equipment such as excavators, bulldozers, angle dozers and scrapers can be used for excavation of large volumes of earth. For smaller scale work, a power cultivator fitted out with a cutter has the advantage of combining excavating and aeration operations (Houben & Guillaud, 1994).
The materials can be obtained 'in situ' so the costs are much lower than a conventional house or small building. Depending in which part of the world the construction will be held the total cost can vary between 4,000 € to 15,000 €.
The earth construction techniques cost less than conventional houses and small buildings. Due to the high energy efficiency, the environmental impact is also smaller than in cases of conventional construction.