Feasibility Study of Affordable Earth Masonry Housing in the U.S. Gulf Coast Region

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Compressed and stabilized earth block (CSEB) structural systems represent a sustainable low-cost alternative to other construction systems that are common in industrialized countries. The wide availability of suitable soils makes these structural systems attractive for building affordable housing worldwide. Currently, CSEB construction in the USA is mainly used in dry and arid regions and has rarely been used in humid climates. In this work, a structural, architectural, and economic feasibility study for CSEB structural systems in the U.S. Gulf Coast region is presented. The structural feasibility study presented in this paper included the identification of locally available soils for CSEB fabrication; experimental investigation of mechanical properties of CSEB and mortar as function of their composition; durability study for a CSEB wall with and without protective plastering; and calculation of wind resistance for a representative CSEB house. The architectural feasibility study investigated the use of CSEB systems in vernacular housing typologies of Southern Louisiana. Finally, the economic feasibility study compared the cost of a reference house built using CSEBs and other more common construction materials. The results obtained in this study suggest that CSEB systems have the potential to provide a modern, cost-effective, sustainable, hurricane-resistant housing construction system as an alternative to more common constructions systems in the U.S. Gulf Coast region.

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Journal of Architectural Engineering

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