International symposium on ‘Contemporary Earthen Building’ opens

To raise awareness about Earth as an abundant, sustainable, and eco-friendly building product creating zero CO2 emissions, the 1st International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building in Oman (EBI) was launched at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) on Monday.
The two-day symposium gathers international experts in the field of Earthen Building. It aims to create a platform for discussion and exchange between the academia, the government and the industry.
“Earth is a material with deep historical relevance in Oman. It is in the DNA of Oman. Yet, despite the countless examples of earth buildings, it is little discussed or permitted as a material for present-day construction. This despite the proven benefits to air quality, recyclability and low-embodied energy,” said Professor Wayne Switzer from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) who has initiated the two-day Symposium.
According to a recent study, if 50 per cent of the residential construction would be substituted with earthen material in Oman, around 2.2 million tonnes of cement and 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be potentially saved annually, said Prof Wayne.
The Rector of GUtech, Prof Dr Michael Modigell inaugurated the symposium. He highlighted the importance of the Symposium, enhancing awareness about the production and the use of more environmental-friendly construction materials, while substituting cement one of the main contributors of CO2 emissions.
“The construction sector is responsible for one third of the total CO2 emissions worldwide while also producing 30 per cent of the total waste globally,” said Nicolas Coeckelberghs, architect and co-founder of BC architects 2/05 in Brussels, Belgium. “Earthen plasters provide better air quality, better acoustics, regulate humidity,” he said.