Building houses with local materials: Means to drastically reduce the environmental impact of construction

J. C. Morel, Ali Mesbah, M. Oggero, P. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

381 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes the process of materials selection, design and construction used for a series of small residential buildings in Southern France. Whenever possible, materials were resourced in situ in order to minimise the environmental impact of the new buildings. In particular, the process of materials selection, stone masonry with stablished in situ soil mortar, and the form of construction are outlined. Guidance for a more generalised adoption of the design process is also provided. The energy consumed in the building of one house is compared to a typical concrete house. By adopting local materials the amount of energy used in building decreased by up to 215% and the impact of transportation by 453%. However, adoption of local materials in developed countries can be hindered by the loss of traditional building crafts and a lack of appropriate building standards. These problems are also discussed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1126
Number of pages8
JournalBuilding and Environment
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Embodied energy
  • Environmental impact
  • Local material
  • Soil mortar
  • Stone masonry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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