What are the pros and cons of earthbag housing when compared with traditional housing, rammed earth housing, and strawbale housing?

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Earthbag building is more sustainable than most conventional building in the US because it minimizes the use of energy-intensive industrial materials, and can create very energy-efficient building shells. It is also more economical to accomplish, and takes less skilled labor. And it is remarkably variable in the forms that can be created. Earthbag housing is similar to rammed earth housing, in that they both may employ the same type of soil to build the walls. On the other hand, earthbags are easier to fill and stack than creating forms for ramming and then actually ramming the earth. Furthermore, the walls can be curved, which is difficult to do with rammed earth. Also earthbags can provide either insulation or thermal mass depending on what they are filled with, whereas rammed earth is always thermal mass. Compared to strawbale building, earthbags typically do not have the issues with moisture and rot associated with straw, so the building may last longer and be easier to maintain. ... more
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