As homebuilders and buyers continually seek ways to lower their environmental footprint, one of the world’s oldest building techniques remains among the most ecologically sensitive. The rammed-earth process is touted as having the lowest environmental impact of all building techniques currently used in the commercial building industry, while also boosting a home’s health benefits and longevity. So what exactly does it entail?

In short, rammed-earth walls are created by using the right amount of earth—sand, gravel or clay—solidified by an additive like lime, cement or asphalt. The damp earth is added to a wood or steel frame, undergoing a ramming process, over and over until the frame is completely filled and can be removed. Not only is the result aesthetically striking, with distinct natural color variations, but it reduces heating/cooling costs, enhances energy efficiency and boosts home health. Since it’s made of inorganic material, it won’t decay or support mold growth, and it becomes stronger over time as it dries and compresses.

The rammed-earth technique is on display at 70380 Desert Cove Avenue, a five-bedroom abode, known as Terra, in Rancho Mirage. Designed by Jim McIntosh in 2003 as a tribute to Mother Earth, the home features two-foot thick walls made of rammed earth, steel rebar and red wine-stained concrete floors.

"In addition to its centering and therapeutic effects, this home’s rammed-earth walls actually take green living to the next level,” says The Agency’s Tamara Baron, who co-lists the compound with Jeff Kohl. “The rammed-earth walls naturally regulate this desert home's temperature by absorbing heat in the day and releasing it at night. The unique composition also allows it to absorb and release humidity, improve air quality, and offer next-level natural wellness to its residents."

"This home exudes a sense of calm from its deep connection to the earth,” adds Jeff. “The rammed-earth technique is an art form in itself and the result is beautiful layers of earth and a structure that is almost sculptural in its complexity, scale and strength. From walking across the natural floor barefoot to soaking in the many textures and layers of the wall, it evokes both the rugged landscape and a sense of timelessness all at once." You can read more about the property in this recent feature and view more images here.

Another home on the market featuring the rammed-earth technique is 33014 Pacific Coast Highway, a stunning one-acre property offering 145’ of ocean frontage in Malibu. Represented by Sandro Dazzan and Cooper Mount, the home was recently remodeled down to the studs, incorporating rammed-earth, along with steel pocket doors that disappear into the walls to draw in cooling ocean breezes and seamlessly connect indoor and outdoor living. View more details and images of the home here.