Ultradobe FAQ

Answers on the most important issues of concern.

What is Ultradobe?
Ultradobe is an affordable, earthy or stone-like, ultraGreen, ultra-economical, and ultra-durable family of building materials.  Ultradobe’s qualities and high performance are results of special blends of ancient and modern ingredients for superior strength and optimal resistance to earthquakes, powerful storms, fire, water, mold and wear.  Ultradobe can be produced as factory-made or DIY blocks, panels, pour-in-place or form-cast wall & dome sections, also as plaster for interiors and exteriors, for high temperature fire zones or kilns and ovens.

Why should we care about Ultradobe or ultraGreen buildings?
Ecologically, “green” and “sustainable” mean the same thing. Green now means doing our best to thrive while ensuring that all generations are able to do the same. Otherwise, we slide into increasingly unsustainable ways that severely damage our planetary life-support system and cost more than we can afford to restore, when restoration is even possible. The ultraGreen Ultradobe family of building materials reduces our harmful ecological impacts to a practical minimum. Many conventional and “semi-green” materials and buildings do little or nothing to minimize the destructive effects of pollution and wasted energy (mostly generated by burning toxic fuels).

Why not use traditional adobe and cobb?
Traditional adobe and primitive plasters are ancient, earthy, wonderful, sustainably green building materials, providing low cost shelter, year round comfort (potentially), relatively easy construction and low cost — as long as labor for construction, maintenance and repair is cheap or free.  Traditional adobe and cobb are not stabilized to resist damage by rain and freeze-thaw cycles.  Traditional adobe and cobb are not strong, nor tough enough to resist floods or earthquake damage without major structural support.  Like modern concrete, traditional stabilized adobe may be destroyed by high temperature fires.

How durable is Ultradobe?
Ultradobe materials and systems for neo-primitive buildings are engineered to outlast the oldest caravanserai in the Sahara, which opened for business over 4,340 years ago.  The best primitive plaster mixes of the ancient Middle East are standing the tests of time after more than 9,500 years.  With neo-primitive ecotecture (the best green design), surpassing that life-span will be easy with Ultradobe and Ultracrete materials.

How are Ultradobe products superior to other materials?
Ultradobe formulas can be lighter, harder and stronger than standard adobe, as hard as sandstone, or harder, tougher, and less porous. Surface textures like traditional adobe, limestone, marble or granite are possible. Standard 4″ x 10″ x 14″ stabilized adobe blocks weigh about 40 pounds each.  A typical Ultradobe building block the same size can weigh 20 to 30 pounds (depending on the formula needed). Ultradobe requires less material and less energy for construction, less expensive foundations & structural support, but far better thermal performance and greater ease of use.

How “green” is Ultradobe?
Lighter weight and greater strength mean less energy required for production, transportation, construction, heating and cooling, meaning less pollution of air, water, earth, and food.  With the advantages of Ultradobe and Ultracrete blends (some with special ingredients, including high strength fibers: natural + glass + carbon or recycled steel for reinforcing), the economy, sustainability, usefulness and superiority of Ultradobe and Ultracrete are far beyond conventional concrete, wood, typical adobe, cobb, and rammed-earth.

How do Ultradobe buildings compare with other Green buildings?
With properly designed walls (and virtually unburnable “Ultrafoam” or pumice insulation) protected by super-strong Ultradobe refractory plaster, Ultradobe buildings will out perform less green buildings, “Earthships” and “straw bale” homes, thermally, structurally and sustainably for millennia. The elimination of whole life-cycle repair and replacement every 200 years or so makes millennial buildings far more energy efficient and economical. At 10″ to 16″ thickness, compared to 24″ strawbale walls or giant mounds of dirt-filled used tires (for ‘Earthships’), Ultradobe walls are better for designers, builders, and home buyers with limited budgets, limited time, tight schedules, and normal lot sizes.

What about the ‘extra’ costs of Green building?
With the best neo-primitive ecotecture, Ultradobe materials, and appropriate construction techniques, total building costs will usually be less than with conventional materials or with less durable, less sustainable, less “green” products.  Using Ultradobe and other neo-primitive materials, even without modular panelization, affordable homes can be built in less time than almost all other alternatives, saving a major fraction of the labor cost. Labor now typically amounts to over 60% of construction costs.

Can future home owners build with Ultradobe?
Ultradobe homes may be built by owners or unskilled laborers with or without supervision by an experienced professional or master mason. Anyone who can build with concrete, plaster, adobe, cobb, rammed earth, or strawbales can build more efficiently with Ultradobe materials & neo-primitive techniques, with far less whole life-cycle pollution, energy use, and cost.

How does Ultradobe compare with SIPs and strawbales?
Standard structural insulated panel (SIP) walls and modules are usually filled with flammable, polystyrene or polyurethane plastic manufactured with extremely toxic chemicals.  In ordinary home fires, plastic foams explode into flaming clouds of poisonous gas. New foam polymers from soy or hemp may embody little or no toxic VOCs, but the manufacturing process is not totally pollution free, neither is the transportation to get finished products to your site. Also remember, plant-based foams in plywood SIPs are neither waterproof nor fireproof nor pest-proof. What else? Gravity will compress plant-based wall filler, gradually degrading its insulation value. Strawbale walls are subject to water damage, rot, infestation by toxic mold, insects, and rodents due to normal wear & tear, damaged plaster & waterproofing, and from improper design or construction. Strawbale, loose-fill cellulose, and hemp/soy foam walls start burning at about 900° F. (degrees).  Ultradobe EcoSIPs and Ultrafoam use inert, mostly nontoxic minerals mixed with organic & inorganic fibers, inhospitable to mold, insects + rodents and are unburnable up to very high temperatures: 1200° to 1800° F. or more.  Some Ultracrete & Ultradobe plaster blends withstand fire up to nearly 3000° F. Ultradobe building components can easily exceed 2-hour fire ratings for ideal permitting solutions.  All the above enable minimal insurance premiums with minimal risks & liabilities – for millennia – not just centuries or decades.

What ingredients are used to make Ultradobe products?
Ultradobe products contain mainly natural, earth-based compounds (mineral & vegetal) and recycled materials.  Clay, sand, mineral ores, natural & recycled fibers, water and air are the main ingredients.  Ultradobe may also contain tiny fractions of modern additives and high performance fibers (recycled metal, glass, and/or carbon) for extra durability, waterproofing and fire resistance.

What about pollution?
Compared to all other building materials, the “cradle to cradle” impact of Ultradobe over its multi-millennial life-cycle imposes the least possible damage on the environment, residents, and all generations of other living beings.  All synthetic plastics, even made of recycled plastic, require toxic VOCs and binders and, like polystyrene and polyurethane insulation, gradually breakdown, releasing toxic gases, genetic mutagens and metabolic disruptors. Those hideous chemicals find their way out of faux-green SIPs and many other unGreen building materials. Using typical, non-millennial “green” building materials imposes much shorter life-cycles that require far more energy use for production, transportation, construction, maintenance, repair and replacement.  Therefore, throughout their life-cycles, non-millennial buildings require far more pollution of every kind, including heat and GHGs, accelerating local, regional, and global climate change, aggravating the severity of its effects instead of reducing them.

Are there any major global advantages to building with Ultradobe?
Ultradobe materials, products and building components require far less energy during the whole life-cycle, from mining and harvesting through manufacturing, delivery, construction, and use.  All buildings cause ecological impacts. The environmental impacts & costs of ordinary concrete, conventional building materials, and semi-green products are huge, actually disastrous. The Ultradobe “family” of ultramodern, neo-primitive products & systems reduce environmental impacts and costs to a tiny minimum.  Depending on whose statistics you believe, in production, transportation and construction, conventional concrete causes from 70% to 1000% (ten times) its weight in CO2 emissions — countless billions of tons and mounting — along with millions of tons of toxic combustion byproducts, annually.  Without using Ultradobe globally, the amount of concrete in new building planned for the next 20 years could more than double what exists now, multiplying all related GHG (green house gas) emissions.  The associated pollution & acidification of rain, open waters & aquifers, the loss of food fish and oxygen from phytoplankton die-off, increasing methane released by melting sub-sea ice & arctic permafrost, plus more extreme climate change would all be radically aggravated by more deforestation by clear cutting for building lumber.  Ultradobe & Ultracrete componentts are clearly the ideal alternative.

How does Ultradobe compare with conventional concrete?
Ultracrete structural products can be engineered for over 3 times the strength of normal high strength “portland cement” (PC) concrete at a fraction of the weight.  Some blends of fiber reinforced Ultracrete will outlast high strength PC concrete by far more than 4,000 years.  The incompatibility of steel and PC concrete make the life-span of steel reinforced buildings much shorter than previously thought, instead of 4,000 years, more like 150 to 200 years.  PC concrete cannot stand high temperature fires, now more common in many highly populated urban-suburban metroplexes.  Compared to conventional construction technologies & techniques, building with Ultradobe and Ultracrete mixes can cut GHG emissions and costs by up to 80% or better.  What’ better? We now have a rapidly increasing number of coal fired power plants and steel mills producing mountains of “flyash” — lethally dangerous to breathe and store.  The Greenest, safest, most practical, and economical way to contain flyash is to use it in millennial building materials & pavements.  For increasing strength, durability and water resistance, flyash is a great additive to concrete, but in Ultracrete or Ultradobe it stays locked into the stable mineral matrix for over 10,000 years.

Can ordinary builders, designers, and engineers easily work with Ultradobe for Greener projects?
Ultradobe building materials and products are designed for ideal use in super-insulated dynamic-passive solar buildings, the Greenest possible design solution.  specially formulated Ultradobe blends are ideal for the many different components and finishes needed in any building in any place on the planet.  Ultradobe blends are designed to optimize beauty, comfort with free heating and cooling, while minimizing illness, energy use, repairs, maintenance, construction and all associated costs.

What will Ultradobe do for industry and affordable housing?
Ultradobe formulas, products, panels, structural components and modular building sections can be designed for mass production in Green factories or for production and construction by regional producers, project developers, professional builders and indigenous owner-builders in remote regions.  Building with Ultradobe also means that costs associated with excess material, waste, time, and energy use are eliminated or minimized.

What are the essential, long-term benefits and advantages of Ultradobe building products?
Using ultraGreen building materials, neo-primitive ecotecture – the best of green planning and design – minimizes the destructive impacts of our growing population, while fostering a healthy millennial culture.  The psychological and socioeconomic benefits and advantages of building a millennial culture are incalculable, but the results will be far superior to a culture built on waste, disposability, pollution, ruthless greed, heartless arrogance, deception, delusion, and denial.

What is neo-primitive ecotecture?
Neo-primitive ecotecture is the leading edge of green design and ecologically responsible planning – the best of new and ancient technologies and techniques.  Neo-primitive ecotecture and materials make the best use of ancient and modern science, design and construction technologies for the best results, for the client, the culture, the economy, the environment and for future generations.  The best neo-primitive buildings and communities best sustain Green culture for a healthier future.

For more on Ultradobe, neo-primitive ecotecture, ultragreen design, and the inventor, write to Michael Monterey via e-mail > michael.monterey < or visit the Monterey & Associates page @ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monterey-Associates/106368272778940 or See sample pics at >  https://www.facebook.com/michaelmonterey01/media_set?set=a.1826569779692.2104048.1103717447&type=3

Thanks. Your Comments, queries, or subscription to the Ecotecture NOW blogsite are appreciated. MM
©2011-2014 Michael Monterey :: All rights reserved.


Greenbook Rating Standard


NOTE: The Greenbook Rating Form in 8.5″ x 14″ PDF format is downloadable FREE (for nonprofit or personal, non-commercial use) via the link shown above.

Ecological Planning Standards

A beautiful green apple with an unseen worm hole, may be rotten to the core, not fit to eat.  A building, a product or a plan may get a green label, yet be far less than ideally sustainable or truly cost-effective.

True cost pricing for the whole life cycle is essential for sustainable  success, but requires qualitative evaluation of factors and issues left out of standards in current use.  Now we have a way to remedy that deficiency.
… Malcolm Wells, an early bioneer of green architecture and responsible planning, began developing a green rating standard in the 1960s and, by 1969, published a practical form featuring four degrees of negative and positive scoring factors.  Using the new form, you can evaluate the factors affecting any kind of project, product, process, activity or subjects.
… Also in the 1960s, pioneering ecotect Paolo Soleri and his apprentices began developing designs and plans for cities that reverse ecocidal damage and waste, by eliminating secondary causes, irresponsible design, anti-green construction, and urban-suburban sprawl.  Soleri’s work opened the flood gates for bioethics and innovation for a sustainable civilization, but lacked a practical master plan for transition from our ungreen world to the ultragreen world of the future.
… One main advantage of the Greenbook standard is that the line items cover all the basics of what makes a plan, project, process, product or thing either green or anti-green.  Each of the qualifying categories covers a complex mix of basic and contributing causes, and effects.  Rating the benefits and/or impacts may seem too difficult without expert consultants, but this standard requires only a reasonable effort to access the best available data and determine the most likely benefit or harm.  We can use the new standard to define a sincerely green, reasonable effort.  Your scoring of each category listed may be imperfect, yet produce an evaluation good enough for protection of all generations.
… Wells used his form in an example featuring abandoned farmland. In that case (with negative impact numbers getting a minus sign), the rating variables were equivalent to:

1 = rarely/never, 2 = sometimes, 3 = often/usually, 4 = always/constantly

(For the new form, see the link at the end of this section)

… The Greenbook rating form can be used for establishing true cost pricing and assessing environmental impacts, penalties, fines, tax rates and incentives.
… An inferior standard or code accepted as ‘green enough’ acts as a deadly institutional retro-virus in our cultural immune system, gradually destroying the society and the economy, the building industry, real estate markets and communities.  The Greenbook standard can even be used to create a new LEED Diamond certification standard.  It could also replace all the other standards and cure the codes.
Using the new Green Planning Standard—with life affirming ethics, effective reason, compassionate inspiration and creative problem solving—enables progress to sustainable success in a greener future as rapidly as possible. If you think not, consider this, while most of the building industry suffered stagnation and worse, green building increased by nearly 50% per year. Why the huge disparity between Big Builders’ progressive self-Greening and what happened in most of the rest of the industry and the culture in general?
… The confusion, limitations, complications, and builders’ attitudes are aggravated by standards, codes, and regulations inadequate to the real scope of the problem. Consider this: harmful, wasteful, ugly buildings usually stand and degrade the quality of culture and life for decades or centuries.
… Designers, builders, developers, planners, and policy makers need this alternative to overly complicated, existing standards and codes. We all do.
… The Greenbook toolkit and sustainability rating standard provide the essential qualifications for creating a green master plan for a successful future.  Yet, some may be trapped in denial and selective inattention.  Real world examples may help them see the green light.  The following examples may be sufficient for a wake up call and reality check combined.
… The Chinese plan to double the area of their built environment by 2030.  With population and economic growth rates of India close to China’s and the rest of the Third World catching up fast. In 18 years that would double the amount of human habitat built over the last 5,000 years. That could double or triple the use of bricks, concrete, and pavement.  That means doubling or tripling the amount of carbon released in the production and use of bricks and concrete.  Bricks account for over 80 billion pounds of CO2 annually.  Depending on whose numbers you use, the amount of extra carbon dioxide (CO2)  released will equal from one to ten times the weight of the concrete itself. Though that means from over 1.6 billion to over 32 billion extra pounds of CO2 emissions yearly, until 2030 or beyond. The supply chain, production, and use of bricks releases over 80 billion pounds of CO2 annually. The CO2 emmissions accompany billions of tons of other greenhouse gases (GHG) generated by similar industrial processes, transportation, and construction support operations. Some of the other gases are poisonous, but total release of the methane frozen under the ocean floor and virtually locked in many millions of square miles of permafrost in the arctic tundra would cause the worst impact.
… Methane is nearly 22 times more potent than CO2. Releasing much more methane would finish killing the ocean’s coral reefs with increasing acidity and cause acid-rain strong enough to finish off most land animals and plants for a million years. The average temperature would also rise to over 140° F. Yet, superior formulas for green concrete and unfired masonry have existed for thousands of years, with only a tiny fraction of the embodied energy and GHG impact of ungreen concrete. New, high performance substitutes are even better, but virtually suppressed.
… Another dire example is the environmental pollution and true cost of tar sand and oil shale mining and the conversion process for producing low grade fuel oil and gasoline. Far from being an affordable, green alternative to foreign oil, tar sand and oil shale are ecological nightmares worse than liquid oil and coal combined. They require excess use and pollution of groundwater and air and extended burning of fuel for transportation and power. The related propaganda helps to suppress the truth.
… The best alternative to oil shale, oil, coal, nuclear power and wind energy is electric solar power. Using bogus science, bad statistics, and lies to maintain the illusion of necessity, the corporate energy cartel makes you think that solar electric technology is inadequate. With optimal building efficiency and vehicle upgrades, solar photo-voltaic panels (made mainly from sand and recycled metal), mounted on rooftops and over parking lots, will provide more than enough electricity for all of humanity’s future needs.
… Including energy efficiency upgrades of buildings, transportation, and industries in the calculations shows that the big power industry’s projections of future demand are far above necessity and reality. For reference, as early as the 1960s, passive-solar design made buildings with 90% energy efficiency not only possible but more affordable than conventional buildings.
… We should also remember that war is basically ecocidal. Armor piercing projectiles made of nuclear waste, depleted uranium and plutonium, are vaporized and pulverized (powdered) by super hot explosion on impact. That process, and all the other toxic compounds and metals released into the environment during battles, is as bad as pollution gets. Plutonium loses only half its radioactive killing power over 240,000 years; and one microgram can go on killing and harming for almost twice as long as it moves through the biosphere, carried as dust in the wind, or as snow, in the rain or in living bodies.
Long after battles and wars, the plague of land mines not only kills, cripples, mutilates and terrorizes innocent civilians, they make large areas of land unsafe for farming, organic or otherwise. The new Green Planning Standard gives us a way to effectively evaluate the anti-green elements of a weapon system, a tactic, a campaign strategy, a battle, a war, war crimes, and the true total costs of war and its “collateral” damage.
… Radical climate change and its destructive potentials are no longer debatable. For designers, planners, policy makers, developers, district attorneys, judges, and politicians, the green rating standard is essential, not optional. That may seem extreme, but responsible public officials, professionals, and parents charged with a duty to protect humanity and children from themselves (if necessary), choose due caution, prudence, and safety over an interest in profit, politics, and popularity.
… Before deciding this approach is too extreme or too polarizing, please consider the consequences of inaction if this assessment is NOT too extreme. Time flies. We could live long enough to suffer the results of irresponsible negligence and the wrath of children and grandchildren. Ecocide can be the result of both deliberate and accidental actions and inaction. Public officials, lawyers, and professional policy makers have no legal excuse for either. The same holds true for designers and builders. Criminal negligence and failing to do our duty to present and future generations could lead to prosecution and massive suits prior to 2030.