The Straw Bale Alternative Solutions Resource is now available online

Published by Chris McClellan on June 10, 2013 in Community News

Spearheaded by our own Dawn Marie Smith, ASR’s “Straw Bale” is the first installment in a series of  technical White Papers in support of leading alternative building materials and methods. Get your copy now!
The Strawbale ASR

The Straw Bale Alternative Solutions Resource. (PDF version) A resource for designers, engineers, builders and building officials working with straw bale as a building material. The document contains detailed, comprehensive and peer-reviewed recommendations and supporting information designed to assist in applying for building permits involving the use of straw bales. 52 pages.

Price: $25.00
Preview: show preview ‘the use and limitations of straw bales as structural and non-structural wall elements in residential and small commercial buildings within the context of the requirements of Part 9 of the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC).’ About the SB ASR. Tim Krahn, Structural Engineer from Ontario wrote: “The NBEG [Natural Building Engineering Group – www.nbeg.org] was very approving of the document and are looking forward to how this will help the ONBC (formerly OSBBC) continue to develop their resources for Ontario.” Brian Cockburn, Mechanical Engineer from Victoria wrote: “From a designer’s/engineer’s point of view, this is precisely what I would want in a reference guide. It gives an excellent high-level survey of the state of knowledge on strawbale construction, and directs me where to look for specific information.” And Bruce King, Structural Engineer and SB author from California wrote: “Wow, VERY impressive!  Congratulations on a lot of hard work and a job well done!” Research and development of this first element began in May 2012. We have been very fortunate in that, through our various contacts and a process of networking, we gained access at the highest level to professionals in the field of straw bale construction. People who literally ‘wrote the books‘ and who have not only expressed their strong support for the project but, in many cases, have offered to review the document for us during its development. People like Bruce KingDavid EisenbergKris DyckMartin HammerDarcey Donovan, Chris Magwood and Habib Gonzales. We are honoured by their support and interest. As further Elements of the ASR are written they will be available online as a series of pdf documents each of which will contain guidelines related to the use of a specific natural and/or alternative building materials or system (natural methods). The purpose of the ASR is to provide a valuable reference for the entire building community – from homeowners to architects, engineers, building officials, contractors, and all other building professionals – when working on any project that involves natural methods. The guidelines will provide comprehensive, concise and regionally-appropriate information on these natural methods that are not currently addressed by the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC). The contents of the ASR are vetted by qualified professional from different areas of the building industry in order to ensure that the information presented is highly accurate, appropriate and applicable. Furthermore, the professional review process ensures that the guidelines comply with regulatory requirements relating to the use of ‘alternative solutions’ set out in the BCBC. The choice of straw bales as the first element was based on a number of factors, including:

  • widest application across the province of BC;
  • the availability of current and comprehensive information and,
  • the environmental benefits of using waste agricultural materials.

The development of this first element of the ASR creates a framework for the document which will then be carried forward as further elements are added in the future. Future additions will include (but are not limited to):

  • cob
  • rammed earth
  • adobe block
  • light clay
  • earthen plasters and floor systems
  • thermal mass
  • on-site grey-water and black-water treatment
  • alternative healthy electrical technologies
  • passive and active solar integration, and
  • living roof installations.

Grant money generously provided by the Vancity / Real Estate Foundation of BC Green Building program – as well as other revenue raised through hosting events – has been used to fund the work required to research, collate, edit, vet, design and publish the ASR. When the initial research for an element of the ASR is completed, the accumulated data is formatted and circulated for peer-review by qualified professionals within the building industry to ensure that the information is not only technically correct, but also meets the requirements of the BCBC with regards to all the standards set out in Part 9.