There’s a lot to consider when thinking about buying or building a new home. While cost and location are top priority, many new home buyers and builders question the environmental impact of their future home. Traditional building models are industry standard, but how do they measure up when it comes to sustainability compared to adobe-style constructions?
What is Adobe-Style Architecture?
Adobe-style architecture is a design concept based on natural materials used to create adobe. Homes constructed from adobe are easily spotted. They are known for their earthy tones, like auburn or sand-coloring, and appear to be from ancient design. Adobe has been used for thousands of years and is a reliable building material.
Modern adobe-style homes are often reinforced with natural wood beams, insulation, and other features, like patios, fireplaces, or columns. A new rise in adobe home building has been observed in modern architecture. The rise is assumed to be based on the cost savings adobe homes provide and their timeless appearance.
Natural materials used to construct adobe homes include sand, soil, clay, silt, stone, and other materials like cement or limestone. Since these materials are more abundant and workable compared to wood, adobe homes are easier to plan both in cost and in building design.
Most modern adobe buildings do not contain a basement level, and are built on a flat foundation slab. Usually featuring one or two stories, adobe homes are often constructed with a built-in staircase, exposed wood beams, and their unique rounded exterior edges. The roofs are usually flat or rounded, and many are constructed to collect rainwater for gardening, especially in dry climates where rain is less frequent.
What is Traditional Building Design?
Traditional building design is often called linear building. This is typically seen in modern homes with wooden framing, with many having a basement floor. From start to finish, traditional building designs involve many different hands, from designers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, permitting staff, and more.
The stages of completing a traditional build are often lengthy, with an average completion at about 175 days. Weather events are expected and can impact the quality of a build and delay the completion date. Each step of a build is done on-site, and each step must be completed fully before the next can begin. This process of a build usually is as follows: foundation, framing, roofing, siding, insulation, window, and door installation, rough electric and plumbing, interior and exterior finishing, electric finishing, and clean up.
Traditional homes are often more clean-cut, symmetrical, and detailed than adobe-style builds, but you can expect to pay 15-23% more for the finished product.
Which is More Sustainable?
Adobe-style buildings are a more sustainable option compared to traditional models. Traditional models utilize more wood, metals, insulation, and other materials overall. While wood is a renewable resource, market fluctuations greatly impact the industries overall sustainability. Traditional builds also create more waste compared to adobe homes.
Homes made from adobe are also energy efficient in the way they store and release heat. Heating and cooling are a major consumption of energy for most homes. Adobe-style buildings absorb heat from the sun during the day and slowly release the absorbed heat during nighttime hours when temperatures drop.
Since adobe homes utilize abundant earth materials, like clay, the cost and environmental impact to create an adobe home is lower compared to traditional models. However, whether you choose an adobe-style or traditional model, using recycled or reclaimed materials will help reduce the overall environmental impact of your home.
Adobe-style homes are 15-23% cheaper from start to finish.
Traditional model buildings create more waste and are generally less sustainable overall compared to adobe-style homes.
Using natural and abundant materials to build a home will create a more sustainable finished product. Using reclaimed or recycled materials is encouraged.