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SIREWALL FAQ

MOST FREQUENT:

Rammed Earth? It’s like cob or adobe, isn’t it?

Yes and no. Both use the most common building material on the planet. However, cob and adobe have a compressive strength of 100psi to 200psi while SIREWALLs have a minimum of 3,000psi, and that strength creates worry – free and maintenance – free durability, as well as the ability to build large structures.

Does it wash away in the rain?

Please see this clip of Canadian science broadcasterDavid Suzuki trying to erode a SIREWALL with a pressure washer that is strong enough to cut through a wood 2×4.

How much does it cost?

From a life cycle point of view, there is nothing cheaper. From a first cost point of view, it’s expensive. Quality is often like that. In N. America, SIREWALLs have come out less expensive than board formed concrete with insulation and drywall inside. Material costs are similar around the world but we have had labour vary from $70/hr in Wyoming to $5/day in India. Labour is typically around 60 – 65% of the overall cost in N. America, depending on the design. Simple repetitive elements (curving or straight) take much less time than sculptural items with many corners.

Can you do cladding?

No, we don’t do SIREWALL wallpaper. We offer a structural system that uses less than half the cement of concrete with a stronger result, insulates to R50 plus, has excellent acoustic and hygrothermic properties and is healthy…… in addition to beauty. We are dedicated to making a difference for the planet, not greenwashing.

Can we use the excavation soil?

That’s an appealing environmental notion. The size of excavation needed to get below all organic materials (eg root hairs) makes this impractical in all but the largest projects. Even with a large excavation, the type of soil below the organic layer may or may not be useful, so it’s not something to count on – although nice when it happens.

We don’t have good soil here. Can we do SIREWALL?

We have heard that concern dozens of times and have always been able to generate over 3,000psi using local soils, using our technology.

STRUCTURAL

Is it affected by freezing temperatures?

The resistance to freeze/thaw cycling is a function of the compressive strength. With SIREWALL’s industry leading compressive strength technology, we’ve built in cold places like Winnipeg, Edmonton, Sheridan and Pinedale, Wyoming.

How tall can you go?

We’ve built load-bearing to 51’ tall for the Brinton Museum in Sheridan.

Can you backfill against a SIREWALL?

The Sheridan Museum has SIREWALLs backfilled to over 30’ depth. Use standard concrete protection techniques.

How long will it last?

SIREWALLs are stronger than generic concrete and have a hydrophobic admixture throughout. We don’t know the answer but expect the lifespan to be measured in the hundreds of years.

Can SIREWALLs span across openings?

Certainly, and there are many ways to do that. Edmonton Valley Zoo has a 47’ span with SIREWALL above. Nk’Mip Cultural Center has 100,000 tons of hanging rammed earth over a slit window plus entry that spans 59’.

Who engineers the SIREWALLs?

Most commonly it is the Engineer of Record as the engineering of the SIREWALLs needs to respect the loads of the building as well as wind and seismic loads. We do have engineers experienced with SIREWALL that we can take on as part of the consulting.

VISUAL

Can you make the colours that are best for my project?

The colours you see are a combination of the colour of the fines in the local soils, the iron oxide pigments added, and the colour of the cement. We can make any colour you want (except blues or greens as those colours are toxic to work with). Making colour samples with local soils is standard procedure.

Can you make the texture that is best for my project?

Probably. We have really expanded what we used to think was possible. Please talk to us about your architectural intent. We have some creative options that have never before been used.

ENVIRONMENTAL

Can we get LEED points for using SIREWALLs?

Yes, we have experience at this.

Can we use SIREWALL in a Living Building Challenge project?

Yes, we have experience at this.

Can we use SIREWALL in a Passive House project?

Yes, we have experience with this.

Can we use SIREWALL in a NetZero project?

Yes, adjust insulation levels to your requirements.

Is SIREWALL Red List Ready?

Yes, we have been for many years.

Has SIREWALL incorporated C2C thinking in its product design?

Yes, ingredients are almost all reuseable for their initial role. Eg. Soil, foam, rebar, metal conduit and electrical boxes.

Logistics

Can SIREWALLs be built in the winter?

Yes, we have done that a number of times. It’s more difficult and costly for every trade to build in the winter, and SIREWALL is no exception.

How long does it take?

Is it quicker or slower than concrete? It’s slower than concrete and will impact the scheduling sequence. Overall project completion time need not be impacted if the GC is willing to work with the new technology – but it varies with the particulars of the project.

Not many can build to the SIREWALL Standard. Will there be problems finding someone to build the SIREWALLs when the time comes?

Book well ahead and reserve your time with a deposit.

CONSULTING

How do I bring this design to reality?

Engage SIREWALL early on to get the maximum benefit. Please see our consulting service info to see how we can support you.

What is the Licensing option about?

Licensing is for people who regularly use SIREWALL technology. Licensees comprise our team and who we send referrals to. If you see yourself using SIREWALL on a regular basis, please ask for the SIREWALL Licensee Term Sheet to get an understanding of how we work together with our Licensees.

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