Building with Earth and Sun



Rammed Earth and Adobe


Building with rammed earth is similar to building with adobe, both contain clay and water, but rammed earth is less expensive and allows for thicker walls.



Rammed Earth is soil with the right amount of clay, silt, sand,  and aggregate with a small amount of water added to it.  The dampened soil is  then compacted into a form. The compacted soil becomes so hard that it  is difficult to drive a nail into it.


Adobe brick are made from the same soil mixture as Rammed Earth,  but they have additional amounts of water and clay. This soil mixture is  placed in a mold and left to dry. Adobe bricks must dry completely to  become hard, whereas the Rammed Earth is hard as soon as it is compacted.


Passive Solar Design Advantages


Sunlight warms the earth. One cubic foot of earth holds about twenty  (20) BTUs of heat. At ten feet, ground temperatures vary only seven (7)  degrees throughout the year, averaging 62 degrees in the Las Cruces  area. In Micander Homes:



Thick earth walls capture the sun's heat with mass- there are no  moving parts to maintain, as in active solar systems. The sun's heat  is slowly absorbed during the day, reaching and warming the interior  during the night.


Overhangs keep out summer heat - homes are further designed to  cool passively through natural convection and strategic placement of  windows, doors and roof vents.

Typical Solar Gain Windows

Energy Efficiencies


John Micander's personal home, built in 1983, was heated ONLY with sunlight for the first three (3) years, yet the internal temperature never dropped below 60 degrees.  In the summer, temperatures never exceeded 85 degrees.  This home and other Micander  homes require very little backup energy to bring average  interior temperature to a comfortable range.  Our homes are, on an average, 50% more efficient than frame homes.  Using El Paso Electric's website to get average local home energy costs, we found one of our 2000 sq ft homes used $1690/yr less energy during 2006-7, our 3700 sq ft home used $1994 less and our 2800 sq ft home used $2217 less.



HomePropertiesPassive SolarConclusion
KitchensDesignShowcase HOmeFireplaces


Contact us for home energy audits and remediation!
(505) 647-0864
Fax: (505) 647-1264


In association with...

Micander Construction E-Mail
Site design by Dustin Charles