Alternative Technology Advisory Group

While building codes don’t prohibit the use of any method or material, approaches that fall outside the scope of the building code can be challenging for code officials to evaluate. To address the need for the further evaluation of alternative methods and materials, the Sustainable Building Program worked with the Building Division to develop an Alternative Technology Advisory Group (ATAG). ATAG is structured like Portland Oregon’s similar committee; it is comprised of building professionals who are interested in alternative methods and technologies who can help evaluate these materials for safety and code compliance. After reviewing existing research and codes on a selected alternative, the group makes recommendations to the Building Division. The Chief Building Official will then be able to refer to the group’s recommendation report in making determinations on individual projects utilizing the material or method. The reports are made available to the public online. See more information about ATAG here and the bylaws for the group here.

The members of the 2020-2021 Alternative Technology Advisory Group are:

  • David Cain, PhD, Coconino Community College
  • Joe Costion, Ashokala Gardens
  • Robert Hernandez, Plans Examiner, Coconino County

We thank them for their time and effort in serving on the committee!

Earthen Building Materials and Construction

ATAG began evaluating rammed earth construction in July 2020. That focus grew to include adobe and compressed earth block as the New Mexico Earthen Building Materials Code was recognized by the group as the best available resource for earthen construction. The group's findings were sent to the Chief Building Official on November 6th:

ATAG's letter to the Chief Building Official regarding Earthen Building

The Building Division then drafted an 2019-10 regarding earthen construction. Ordinance 2019-10 AMENDMENT PART XIII: Earthen Building Materials and Construction Code incorporates content from the New Mexico code, ATAG’s recommendations and the IBC code for adobe construction, resulting in a code for adobe, rammed earth and compressed earth block. See the Ordinance here.

The Ordinance was approved unanimously by the Planning & Zoning Commission, Building Safety & Advisory Board and the Board of Supervisors.