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Glossary

Terms for Green Architecture, Building & Energy


This glossary includes more than 300 solar terms, as well as hundreds of additional sustainable design and construction terms.

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Adobe

Definition 1: Adobe bricks are a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, and some kind of fibrous material (sticks, straw, dung), which is shaped into bricks using frames and dried in the sun. It is similar to cob and mudbrick. Adobe structures are extremely durable and account for the oldest extant buildings on the planet. In hot climates, compared to wooden buildings, adobe buildings offer significant advantages due to their greater thermal mass.

Definition 2: The word adobe ([əˈdəʊbiː] or [əˈdoʊbi]) has come to us over some 4000 years with little change in either pronunciation or meaning: the word can be traced from the Middle Egyptian (c. 2000 BC) word dj-b-t "mud [i.e., sun-dried] brick." As Middle Egyptian evolved into Late Egyptian, Demotic, and finally Coptic (c. 600 BC), dj-b-t became tobe "[mud] brick." This evolved into Arabic at-tub (الطّوب al "the" + tub "brick") "[mud] brick," which was assimilated into Old Spanish as adobe [aˈdobe], still with the meaning "mud brick." English borrowed the word from Spanish in the early 18th century.

In more modern English usage, the term "adobe" has come to include a style of architecture that is popular in the desert climates of North America, especially in New Mexico. (Compare with stucco).