The Climate Adaptation Research Seminar Series is a webinar series that will share the most current adaptation research from it's members on climate-related topics. The seminars will give participants a taste of the wide breadth of research conducted by research members on the UC Davis campus.
Earthen construction: an ancient solution to the modern problem of sustainable, safe, and affordable housing
Presented by Dr. Michele Barbato
A significant portion of the world’s population currently lives in earth-based dwellings. Earth construction provides several advantages over other traditional construction methods (e.g., fired masonry and wood construction), as it is affordable and locally appropriate, energy and humidity efficient, and environmentally friendly. The need for affordable and sustainable alternatives to traditional housing construction is clear: by the end of this century, due to the expected increase in the world’s population and improvement of living conditions, two billion new homes will be needed to meet the future housing demand. Earth construction dates back over 10,000 years ago, with examples found all over the world. However, traditionally-built earth structures (i.e., non-engineered cob, rammed earth, or adobe construction) are generally inherently brittle and not capable of resisting extreme loads from natural hazards such as earthquakes and strong winds; therefore, they are inadequate for mainstream modern construction. In the last few decades, significant research has been devoted to develop engineered earth blocks as a more affordable and ecologically-friendly alternative to other masonry elements. This presentation will focus on recent and ongoing research on the use of compressed and stabilized earth block (CSEB) construction for affordable and sustainable housing, which is also resilient to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wildfires. (PDF of Presentation)
About the Author
Dr. Michele Barbato is a Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis (UCD), and co-director and co-founder of the UCD Climate Adaptation Research Center. He received his Summa Cum Laude “Laurea” degree in Civil Engineering from the Sapienza University of Rome (Rome, Italy) in 2002, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Structural Engineering in 2005 and 2007, respectively, at the University of California, San Diego. He is a licensed PE in Louisiana and in Italy.
He is an expert in both traditional and innovative construction methodologies and materials, with particular emphasis on new recycled and green materials. He is active in the development of performance-based methodologies in earthquake, wind, and hurricane engineering, as well as in multihazard applications. Dr. Barbato’s research also embraces nonlinear finite element modeling and analysis of structural systems, random vibration theory, structural reliability analysis, multihazard assessment and mitigation under current and changing climate conditions, and life-cycle cost optimization of resilient/sustainable structures subject to multiple hazards.
He is the author of more than 200 technical publications. He received the 2007 ICASP10 Overseas Student Scholarship, the 2009 ASCE Moisseiff award, the 2011 European Association of Structural Dynamics Junior Research Prize, the ISSE-12 Best Paper Award for Young Experts, the 2020 ASCE Sacramento Section Fredrick Panhost Structural Engineer Award, the 2020 Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, and several teaching and service awards. He was elected SEI Fellow and EMI Fellow in 2019, and ASCE Fellow in 2021. Dr. Barbato has served as the Chair of the ASCE EMI Dynamics Committee in 2017-2020, and currently is the Chair of the ASCE SEI Multihazard Mitigation Committee, the vice-Chair of the ASCE SEI Performance Based Design of Structures Committee, an associate member of the ASCE 7-22 Wind Loads Subcommittee, and a member of the EMI Board of Governors.