The Earth building market

A whole new business sector using Earth in low impact building is emerging. Across Europe there is a growing demand for earth materials and earth building, repair and decoration. But there is a shortage of trained craftspeople to exploit these opportunities, because to date there has been little professional training and accreditation.

Despite the spread and density of traditional earthen buildings in many European regions, this heritage is very little known by populations, professionnals and even by conservation specialists. As a result, construction companies and technicians of local community and urban planning departments intervene on earthen walls every day with little or no knowledge about the material and its properties.

So it’s a real necessity to train skilled workers in this vocational area and to guarantee the quality of training and professional development in earth building.

Specialised associations are seeking opportunities to draw up and develop qualifications in earth building comparable to other vocational areas.

There is very little existing data to quantify the earthen architectural heritage or the constructions of the last 30 years. But there are more and more initiatives that support the marketing of earth building and the people who do it.

Other building technologies have created norms as a pattern of practice, earthbuilding hasn’t. Norms and standards normally cover products, but product standards –where they exist- can’t get far without trained workers:  who will design and build with these products? Training standards and codes of practice require urgent attention if earth is to compete with ‘conventional’ construction. These new standards have to comply with two European tools shaping the actual VET scenario: the European Qualification Framework (EQF and the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training) ECVET.

A guide to earth building training in Europe and beyond