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Neither Bricks nor Cement: This School in Delhi Is Stronger, Cheaper & Better

Earthbag school in India

Earthbag school in India

The school was built by NGO Lakshyam and Geeli Mitti. What makes it so special is that it was built using neither bricks, nor cement!

This was going to be the very first Earthbag technique based school in Delhi. A school built with limited natural resources without any adverse effects or carbon footprints to harm the environment. Not only was this going to be a ‘health-conscious building’ but a strong and sturdy one at that.

The school itself has four to five different concepts interwoven including the earthbag structure, stone foundation, mud plastering, thatching and more.

Shagun believed in the efficient use of natural resources, like mud, over common alternatives like cement. She says, “In the earthbag technique, the advantage is that 95 percent of the soil can be used as it is, without any alteration. That can’t happen with any other building style. “

Shagun, who lead this entire building project, is not only an active propagator and user of different natural building techniques but also has a learning centre at her Geeli Mitti Farms eco-resort where all the different techniques are taught.

To find out more about the different farming and/or natural building techniques, workshops, raising livestock, sustainable ways of living or to simply return to your roots and pay a visit to the scenic farms and indulge in hands-on learning and community service, you could check out their website – www. or write to Shagun at

The Better India
Kelly made a project page based on this at Earthbag

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Amish Enterprise Book

Maybe we can learn something from the Amish. Amish businesses on average are 95% successful, while US businesses in general have an 85% failure rate. The Amish seem to understand the difference between practical knowledge and academic knowledge. Even though the Amish go against almost all conventional business advice (no computer skills, no degrees or advanced business marketing plans, etc.), their success speaks for itself.

The book description at Amazon sounds rather boring, but facts about Amish business success could make the book an interesting read. Most Amish businesses are based on organic farming, construction and building things so I decided to include this book suggestion even though it may seem off topic. Leave a comment if you read the book.


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Javier Senosiain – Organic Architecture

Organic house by Javier Senosiain

Organic house by Javier Senosiain

The organic house is born with the idea of creating an area adapted for man, according to his environmental, physical and psychological needs.

Its origin is in nature, because it looks for areas similar to the maternal womb, to animal shelters, to those of man, who in the beginning, adopted the caverns without modifying its environment, to an igloo and to all the friendly spaces and concave that recall the arms of the mother that cuddles the child.

We look for continuous, wide, integral, light-releasing and changing form spaces that follow the natural pace of man’s movements, spaces where the integrated furniture facilitates the movement.

Organic Architecture

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Rain Harvest Calculator

Darrel sent in a note on the Rain Harvest Calculator that he has developed and made available free of charge on his website.  Its a dandy.

Its a very good Rain Harvest tool that provides a lot of flexibility — you have control over all of the following:

  • Location — specify your location and the calculator looks up the average monthly rainfall.
  • Collection area
  • Collection efficiency
  • Water usage by month
  • Water storage available
  • Supplementary water available by month
  • Specify years with less or more than average rainfall
The calculator provides very nice graphic output that makes it very clear what your rain harvest and water supply situation is and makes it very easy to do what if studies on collection area, storage, usage, …
Well worth having if you are planning a rain water harvesting system.
Thanks Darrel!
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David’s DIY drainback solar water heating system

David has designed and built a very nice solar water heating system for his energy efficient home. It is a drainback system that uses an EPDM lined, non-pressurized wood tank for heat storage.
Some of the highlights of Dave’s system…
  • Tank design suitable for limited height crawlspaces.
  • Nice tank frame design using half lap joints for the corners
  • Used new old-stock commercial collectors at a very good price
  • Efficient heat exchanger installation
  • Using used and recycled materials kept the cost of the system down
David with his three drainback collectors
David’s system consists of three collectors mounted vertically on the south wall of his house. The heat storage tank for the system is in the crawl space under the collectors. Its a drainback system, so for freeze protection, the water in the collectors drains back to the heat storage tank when the pump turns off.
The collectors were obtained on Craig’s list as “new old-stock” for a very good price.
The heat storage tank is a non-presurized, wood framed, insulated with polyiso rigid foam, and then lined with an EPDM liner – this is a design that has been used on quite a few Build It Solar projects, and works well.
David with heat storage tank in his 29 inch deep crawl space.
The heat exchanger uses a 300 ft coil of pex pipe that has been used successfully on several Build-It-Solar projects. The scheme that Dave used to support the pipe coil and space the coils out is very nicely done and likely provides a worthwhile gain in heat transfer efficiency. One nice thing about this style of heat exchanger is that it stores several gallons of fully preheated water right in the coil.
PEX coil heat exchanger with nice coil separation and support scheme.

See all the details here…

January 13, 2018