Earth building pioneers
Today’s outstanding earth building companies have been pioneers, patiently learning by doing –and by making mistakes. In 3 to 4 decades they regained the competence to build, improving and innovating equipment and techniques.
Today’s earth building companies have two characteristics in common: The majority are small businesses where the owners are involved in most of the tasks in the construction process. From design and calculations to cleaning up and completion, passing through site planning, material testing, adapting equipment, teaching and advice on maintenance – in addition to the actual building work!
It’s a challenging, rewarding, and demanding situation more by necessity than choice? Building or repairing with earth in European contexts is unusual and projects often require the builder to explain, reassure, promote, convince as well as build.
Earth building in professions and trades
The trio “ client – architect – earth builder” often initiatea project and make earth construction possible in the minds and the hands of the others involved in the project. Many trades and professions involved in the building process come face to face with EARTH without ever having heard of it as a construction material! Even if they do not build with earth themselves they need to understand how to use it leading to specific competence needs:
- in the study of (design, calculation, drawing, laboratory testing…)
- in site management (material preparation, transport & storage, work planning, drawings and specifications)
- in the execution (building, repair, formwork, decoration…)
- in prefabrication and production (fabrication of bulk materials and construction elements, packaging…)
- in maintenance and repair (conservation, refurbishment, thermal insulation, restoration…)
- for business (Marketing, real estate, promotion, training, estimation, consumer advise…)
- plus quality control and safety at every step and level.
TOMORROW building with earth will be NORMAL once all of the actors know the possibilities and specifics of earth as a building material ! That’s the long-term aim of the ECVET Earth building partners all over Europe.
For the moment, acting as a specialist consultant an earth construction company is the key to an earth building project and often bears the success of the project on its shoulders.
In our European project work, specialised practitioners described the activities and competence of the earth builder in the centre of the process. Most of their knowledge and some of their skills are also useful to the other crafts and trades involved. As ECVET earth building is a modular system, it can be used in any training aimed at earth building learning outcomes.
EQF levels in building occupations :
In our ECVET in Earth building, we defined the units of learning outcomes according to the different levels 1 to 4 of the EQF (European Qualification Framework). This is because when you teach, or when you assess, you should always make clear what level you expect the learner to be able to reach.
Teaching or assessing clay construction is different depending on who you are addressing, whether a labourer, a worker, a site foreman or a clerk of works etc. In the building process, as each job is different responsibilities vary and so each needs different knowledge and skills.
The EQF gives us descriptions which define these differences. Of course the official list of descriptions is very general and abstract, because it has to fit any job or qualification.
The common vocational diplomas are at level 3 or 4, depending on whether the professional works alone or manages a team, whereas a building site manager would be at level 5. In our Partnership we looked for the correlation of the different occupations between our different languages. Here are preliminary results: