Photo courtesy of CCAT | Co-director James Lara and project manager prepare tires for construction.

CCAT begins reconstruction project


by Emma Sjostrom

The Campus Center for Appropriate Technology began construction of a tire retaining wall in their on-campus garden at Buck House. Constructed by CCAT directors, instructors and volunteers, the retaining wall is part of CCAT’s project to rebuild the existing Reclamation Station structure located in their garden. The structure has served as storage for students to donate and access reclaimed building materials. 

Made from used tires, the retaining wall is needed to support the sloped landscape where the structure is located. Following the wall’s completion, project managers and volunteers are working towards utilizing natural building materials to complete the project. 

The goals of the rebuild are to increase usage of reclaimed materials through safer and easier access. With a budget of $1,000, the project is proposed to be completed by May 5th of this year. 

Spearheaded by project organizer Maddy Hunt, the project is aimed at promoting sustainable practices and techniques as well as serving as an example of utilizing appropriate technology in construction projects. 

“The shed uses natural building methods which are focused on using reclaimed materials, minimizing ecological impact, and inviting community participation,” Hunt said.

Plans for the rebuild include construction of a wall made of hempcrete, a natural alternative to concrete. CCAT intends to collect data on usage of the material within Humboldt County in an effort to understand and demonstrate the feasibility of hempcrete to address housing needs within the community.

External Co-director James Lara added that CCAT’s overall goal is to encourage sustainable resource and energy use.

“We are in a live-in demonstration home for sustainability and to live lightly on the Earth,” Lara said. “It’s about engaging students to have more experience with sustainable living.”

Construction of the retaining wall is nearly complete, and project organizers expect to continue the groundwork for the structure in the next coming weeks with the help of students and volunteers. Hunt aims for the project to be a practical example of the organization’s goals.

“It can be a demonstration for Cal Poly Humboldt,” Hunt said. “Especially for us to demonstrate [sustainability building] here at CCAT. It’s going to be a really cool way for us to connect with that and to be a part of that process.” 

Hunt added that the project has potential for showing the university and surrounding community the viability of natural building, noting the relatively quick project timeline.

A soon-to-be graduate from the Environmental Studies program, Hunt mentioned that the reclamation project is the culmination of what she has learned in her degree. 

“It’s equally stressful as it is gratifying to be putting theories into action, and seeing it come together as not only a completed project in the end, but also as a network of people working towards a sustainable future,” Hunt said.More information on the project and techniques being used can be found at Those interested in aiding in the project’s completion are encouraged to participate in CCAT’s Volunteer Friday events, which occur weekly from 10am-12pm and 1-4pm. More information can be found on the organization’s website at and Instagram @ccat.humboldt.

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