I first got into the construction industry to build better and healthier buildings. When I learned about rammed earth construction, I knew it was something I wanted to learn more about so I signed up for a course on Salt Spring Island. Rammed earth is a sustainable method of building that blends earth, soil, clay and a small amount of cement, and then compresses the blend by hand or machine into a custom formwork. Once the soil has been rammed, the form is removed, leaving behind a wall that resembles sandstone.
I was fortunate to help build the Nk ‘Mip Desert Cultural Centre rammed earth wall from start to finish. It was such a cool experience, working with likeminded people from all over the West Coast, some of whom I am still friends with. This was also my first experience working with a First Nations band, and it was a very positive one. After this, I went on to start my first company (Solum Rammed Earth) in 2006 and I helped launch NAREBA (North American Rammed Earth Builders Association). All of this showed me how to incorporate what I love to do with how I want to help others, especially when it comes to green building.
Last year, I was approached by an architect to build sustainable homes for the Penticton Indian Band. We are building eight leading energy efficient homes, including seven LEED certified houses and the first ‘Passive House Standard’ built home in the Okanagan. I hired two local band members as employees (a carpenter and labourer) and they have been great to work with. We broke ground last month and hope to complete the eight homes by Spring 2013, at which point we will have an open house to showcase our work.
I love that my experience building a single rammed earth wall many years ago has led me to this project. It shows the evolution of our work and how everything is connected.