What is adobe?
Adobe is a natural building element, usually in brick form, that is made from clay, sand, water, and straw. Traditionally adobe bricks are dried out in the sun to cure. For many years clients in San Diego County have come to Hubbell & Hubbell with the desire to build an adobe home only to find that the County will not allow construction with traditional adobe bricks. Recently we have been successful permitting buildings using Burnt Adobe, which is a traditional adobe brick that has been additionally fired in a kiln. The result is a brick with a much more natural look and feel than conventional brick and is usually made in sizes that allow construction of thick, solid adobe walls.
Benefits Of Building With Burnt Adobe
- ENERGY SAVINGS on heating and cooling. Thick adobe walls have a high thermal mass which slows the flow of heat, enabling a time delay so that the heat of the day doesn’t affect the interior until nighttime when it is needed. Adobe does not provide much insulating value to a building, but the thermal mass does quite a bit to regulate the indoor temperature. The best temperature regulation relies on windows being opened at night and closed in the day during the summer, and the opposite in the winter.
- LESS CEMENT used compared to concrete walls or concrete block masonry walls. In burnt adobe walls a 3/8” thick layer of cement based mortar is used between bricks and a 1-1/2” thick cement based grout is used at the wall center. In a concrete or concrete block wall the entire wall thickness is basically cement based product. It is preferable to reduce portland cement use since it is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. A conventional brick wall may use the same amount of cement as a burnt adobe wall, but conventional brick may contribute more to greenhouse emissions in the longer firing time and longer transportation for distribution.
- NO PETROLEUM BASED PRODUCTS. Burnt adobe walls can pass California Title 24 Energy Code requirements without the use of any insulation products. ICF construction as well as many other conventional constructions use rigid foam insulation to give walls good insulting value, which is good for the energy efficiency of the building, but the foam product does have a high embodied energy as it is a petroleum based product.
- FIRE-RESISTANT. Walls are 100% non-combustible.
- LOCAL PRODUCT. Burnt adobe can be sourced in Mexico near the San Diego County border. Testing data is required for permitting.
- NATURAL LOOK. Perhaps the biggest advantage of using burnt adobe as compared to other brick products is the natural look and feel that this block has. Burnt adobe is just a stronger and more durable form of adobe brick. It retains the adobe look that many people desire.