The Name of Sustainable Architecture’s Favorite New Material is M-U-D

In Mali, an ancient building technique proves far more sensible than wasteful modern alternatives.

The Great Mud Mosque of Djenné. Photo by Ruud Zwart via Wikimedia commons

A new-yet-old building material is revolutionizing construction and energy consumption in Mali. Promising to drive down base costs, improve insulation, and keep out heat, this green innovation is great news for one of the world’s poorest and most beleaguered nations, especially since wood, a major component in most hoses and source of fuel, has been scarce there for well over a decade. The name of this miracle building block is mud. That’s not an acronym or anything. Mali and many other neighboring nations have recently discovered how to solve a slew of development problems using plain old, dirt-and-water mud.

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