Sustainable Affordable Adobe Safety Cottages
Firestorm- and climate safe, sweat-equity friendly, and soulful adobe housing.
We have engineered plans for pilot projects.
On this page:
We are progressing towards a menu of pre-engineered, pre-approved, open source plans for building such structures anywhere in California. We have completed design, engineering, fire ratings for a pilot project in Santa Barbara, California, and are looking for clients/ sites to build the inaugural structures. They have these features and benefits:
- Living well with 80% less metered water use—using innovative new practices for water efficiency which could help save a fortune on increased supply and attendant climate impacts.
- Near 100% stormwater infiltration—which will save water, increase groundwater recharge, and if it becomes a norm, help save on flood damage and/or upsizing storm drains for higher intensity rainfall
- Moderate-income-affordable housing—which could help meet State affordable housing targets and retain local development control.
- Non-combustible architecture to reduce urban firestorms—does not rely on fire insurance, can serve as firebreak rather than fuel for infill development, reduces disruption and rebuilding cost.
- Debris-flow-resistant building—that could enable people to rebuild with more peace of mind.
- Preserves the plant growth and infiltration capacity of the soil—The innovative foundation could help avoid the over-excavation and compaction that is slowly but permanently destroying the soil around modern buildings.
- Living healthier with less driving and parking—which could help reduce traffic overload.
- Improved disaster resiliency—for water, shelter, food, energy, and transportation.
- Much lower landfill from building/ demolition—which could help save millions on landfill capacity.
- Attractive, Spanish-style, real adobe structures—in modern, fire-, climate-, and earthquake-safe form.
- Advance implementation of City policies—General Plan, Climate Action Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, etc.
The City’s recent commitments to sustainability are outstanding policy achievements. Work remains to be done on implementation; to make the most sustainable projects easier to permit, for example.
The designs, land, and funding for phase one of this project are in hand. We hope you will be inspired to partner with us to actualize its full potential to benefit the City, and build Santa Barbara’s environmental leadership. This community-benefit project could be a top demonstration of integrated solutions for climate, water, fire, transportation and affordability.
Contact us if you would like to build like this. More info and related video below.
This pilot project proposed for downtown Santa Barbara brings all the elements together synergistically.
Exploding fire danger, need for non-combustible buildings, regulatory framework for permitting innovation; this is the preamble to a panel at the Regional Water Summit in Ojai, April 29th, 2019.
Explosion in Urban Firestorms Highlights Need for Permitting Innovation Part 2-Panel (video)
Watch a 2200 lb truckload of wood be torched off against an adobe wall, inflamed by two big fans for four hours, followed by thermal shock from blasting with a fire hose. This test was to reduce the last lingering doubts that Reinforced Monolithic Adobe would do very well in an official ASTM E119 fire rating test (update: we passed two full scale, 2-hr ASTM E119 loaded fire rating tests with hose stream in late 2021)
This earthquake testing of monolithic adobe walls by Oasis Design, Quail Springs, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo yielded engineering values needed to design earthquake safe Monolithic Adobe structures in all seismic zones.
The Orella Adobe stands strong in debris up to its roof as a wooden house floats by. The high water was 2-3' higher than in the video. The adobe had driftwood on the roof and feet of mud inside and out afterwards, but did not dissolve and is still standing. This is the January 20, 2017 debris flow near El Capitan on the Gaviota Coast.
Based measurements on the site and at the already built project in this video, we estimate that the site could infiltrate 0.67" of rain in ten minutes, 2.38" in 60 minutes, from an effective catchment area 3.5x that of the 5625 ft2 site. The latter rainfall was historically a five hundred year peak rain intensity event. (With climate disruption, I would not be surprised to see such a rainfall in the next few decades; I saw 0.4" in one minute in December . This is so much higher than the usual performance target that it may be hard to believe. Here's evidence on video (short version below, full version here).
Stormwater infiltration demo and discussion with local decision makers, regulators, and researchers (video)
The demonstration was attended by 30 professionals including our state congressional delegation, the heads of several local water-related agencies, local non-profits, educators and students (short version below, full version here).
The system in the video above also went through a 1.1" in 15 minute event (that's almost 4x the September 2017 Santa Barbara microburst intensity, and 30% more than the peak intensity of the rain that caused the Jan 9th 2018 debris flow—0.84" in 15 min). In this event the flow in the gutter was so wide that much of it bypassed the intake, But the system did capture about a quarter of the runoff from 3 acres and infiltrate it with no problem. (The one minute peak in this event was 0.44", which would probably be a >500 year peak intensity if County flood control published numbers. It was a > 200 year event for 10 and 15 min intervals.)
Our new GW and Home Resource Management-bookexplains in some detail the types of approaches we use to achieve deep reductions in metered water use, with external community benefits. (This handbook, for the general public, has a target reduction of 60% from 2013 water use of 88 gpd/ person, we are confident we can get 80% and our stretch goal is 90% reduction)
How much water you can save...