Caliche Project

Concept:

The caliche project is an effort to use earth as a structural element and not just as an infill material.

The project’s R&D plan is to use caliche (calcium carbonate), a readily available soil in our region, as a practical masonry building material in lieu of the traditional adobe mix. Traditional adobe construction, in general, uses soils that are good for plant growth and/or farming and therefore would exacerbate, in general, topsoil erosion and loss of fertile land, a worldwide problem.

This project would be a showcase for a local and relatively unused building material for the community.

Strategy: fabrication and testing.

Material would be tested for chemical formation and analyze for mix design and stabilization for building material. Testing blocks would be fabricated using traditional forming and production technics, then blocks would be tested for strength for masonry structural assembly. Report would be submitted to the city of El Paso building and inspection department for approval as a building material for the structure to be built at the El Paso Academy site.

Partnership:

El Paso Academy: Student led construction/design of demonstration building using caliche as a primary structural element.

Eco El Paso: Assist with technical expertize, promotion and outreach to the community.

Wright & Dalbin: Assist with architectural services for planning, design and permit process

CEMEX: A multi-national cement and quarry company would assist in providing the material.

UTEP: would assist in testing the material and fabricated masonry units (bricks).