Wednesday, September 16, 1998 11:01:26 PM
GSBN Item
From: GSBN@...,Txinfinet Incoming
Subject: Digest for 9/16/98
To: GSBN
-> Photos of famous FC domes
by M J Epko <duckchow@...>
-> code enforcement
by LivingStr@...
-> EQ #2 - Thumbs Up
by M J Epko <duckchow@...>
-> Re: code enforcement
by Strawnet@...
-> Opportunity in Boise
by M J Epko <duckchow@...>

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Date: 16 Sep 1998 01:33:51 -0500
From: M J Epko <duckchow@...>
Subject: Photos of famous FC domes

http://www.geocities.com/PicketFence/6823/fc.html


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Date: 16 Sep 1998 11:14:59 -0500
From: LivingStr@...
Subject: code enforcement

From Danny Buck, SBCA

This week, Ted Varney had his current job, here in Santa Fe, red tagged after
an unannounced visit by his building inspector. The New Mexico building code
requires that all bales be pinned together vertically and Ted was not doing
this. He, as have others of us, has found that straw bale infill walls go up
faster, cost less money and are more stable if duro-wall is stretched between
the posts and tied off to the bales.
This speaks to the need to have an on-going dialogue with building departments
as methods evolve. The question we are faced with is how does one quantify the
difference between the two methods? How much does it truly matter how strong
the wall is during the construction process? It's the finished, plastered
product that must withstand a test, isn't it? Do we try and test various
walls at various stages of construction, and if so, what will the results tell
us of any value?
In the meantime, we need to strategise on how to move through the current
inpasse and learn answers to all of these questions, as well as how to best
play the political game.
Any feedback would be much appreciated (especially from DCAT).
Thanks,
Danny

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Date: 16 Sep 1998 16:11:51 -0500
From: M J Epko <duckchow@...>
Subject: EQ #2 - Thumbs Up

Just received and read EQ #2, and found it much more balanced & appropriate
than the first. Potential FC downsides are being addressed along with
potential upsides. Nice to see the article on Steve Kemble & Carol Escott's
earthbag place in the tropics too.



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Date: 16 Sep 1998 16:59:59 -0500
From: Strawnet@...
Subject: Re: code enforcement

Danny

Ted's situation is similar to what people are running into in Arizona and
probably many other places as well. They aren't all related to pinning
either. Pardon me for doing this, but I'm going to go into some more
general thoughts before suggesting some possible approaches to solving
this specific problem. It's likely to be a bit challenging for a while
since we created the codes we now have based on at least some testing and
we don't have test results to back up the proposed alternative
approaches. We could propose some testing to satisfy specific questions
surrounding these alternatives, but depending on how they're done, where,
and how well documented, etc., they may have limited usefulness for other
jurisdictions. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do them and resolve the
immediate need, but there is more to this that I want to at least bring
up to the list, since it is already starting to coming up.

Here in Tucson, we recently did an update session on straw bale
construction at the most recent meeting of the Southern Arizona Chapter
of ICBO. While that didn't reach all the building officials in the
region, it did provide an opportunity for exchange of information that
was helpful to them, to answer some of their questions and to become
aware of things we thought they should know about - including some
alternatives to what is in the code here. It also gave us (Matts and I)
an opportunity to once again discuss with the Tucson building official
and one of the Pima County officials the proposal we had put in a couple
of years ago to do a set of workshops and training sessions for their
departments - for both plans reviewers and inspectors. If we are in a
position to be teaching the building officials, plans reviewers and
inspectors about the system, we will have an easier time locally dealing
with these kinds of issues. I think it will also create much better
relationships with the building departments if we take responsibility for
keeping them up to speed with the technology.

I think this points to one of the functions that a national association
or organization could serve, that could certainly also be served locally
or regionally, but with less of an authoritative voice and much more
duplication of effort. We're going to have to address this issue
repeatedly in the future, and it seems to me that if we're going to
expend the effort in one place, we should try to reap as much benefit as
possible. That said, I'm also not in a position to take on any added
work load in the foreseeable future related to creating such an entity,
given the larger code reform effort we're undertaking now.

However, it seems to me that we should be taking responsibility for
developing support and assistance for building departments so they know
how to deal with these structures. We raise both the level of difficulty
and resistance to acceptance by creating situations in which we demand
that they permit these buildings but don't help them know how to deal
with them in the specific. I spent last week in San Diego at the Annual
Business Meeting of ICBO. I met a couple of times with Stephen Kanipe,
Aspen/Pitkin County, Colorado building official and we discussed this
exact issue. Having the code is only part of what they need. He's
interested in helping establish some sort of printed material and
possibly helping develop some training sessions to make the whole task of
approving and inspecting these buildings easier.

I don't have any doubt that this is something that needs to be addressed.
Who will take this on and how it will be done is an open question, but
tackling such things that are basically in the commons is one (clearly
not the only one) of the things that must be done to get bale building
into the mainstream. Perhaps the regional organizations can deal with it
well enough, but I'd like to see a more broadbased effort that results in
something that benefits everyone. And I'd also like to see those who
benefit, at least professionally from this, help support the effort.
That's an idea that's been kicked around for quite awhile, but as one of
the people, representing one of the organizations that has done a huge
amount of the work in this arena - most of it unsupported financially -
I feel strongly that this needs to be resolved.

As to the specific case with Ted's building and the questions about
vertical pinning - is it necessary? what about exterior or surface
pinning? what about the use of horizontal reinforcement tied to the bales
and to the posts? etc., we only have our intuitive knowledge and a little
bit of testing that Linda Chapman and Bob Platts did in Canada with
unpinned bale wall panels to go by. I think we would all agree that the
vertical pinning in the middle of the bales offers some added stiffness
and stability of the walls during construction. It may also offer some
racking shear resistance in severe in-plane lateral loading, since it
will resist the movement of bales past each other in adjacent courses.
We know it offers limited resistance to out of plane bending (it does
offer some, though, as we found in the Tucson testing when we went from
short vertical pins through two courses to longer ones through four
courses). But it is a relatively limited structural addition to the wall
compared to the value of the plaster skins or surface pinning, and may
not be needed at all.

If vertical pinning is to be replaced by duro-wall attached to the bales
and the posts, it seems that there will need to be some way to calculate
or establish that it is at least equivalent to the vertical pinning
method. I'm not sure how to do that other than to mock up the two
systems, load them and compare their performance. We may need to involve
Bruce King, David Mar or some other structural leading light to help get
a handle on this and make a case for it. That is, assuming they think
that it's a good and viable approach, which it seems to be, at least to
me. As an aside, I had objected to the original inclusion of duro-wall
in the New Mexico testing because it was just placed in the middle of the
bale in the middle course, and not specified to be attached to anything -
bale or post. I was objecting to just having something in there that
looked like it might be serving some purpose but actually serving none,
which by testing the wall with it in it meant that it needed to go into
every approved bale wall thereafter. In a way, this is the issue
surrounding the vertical pinning, which we thought, at the time, was an
essential structural element. With experience, we're pretty sure that it
isn't, but it's in the codes and thus people have to use it whether it's
needed or not.

Having an element like duro-wall tied to the bale and to the posts offers
a very different potential structural benefit and it may be possible for
someone to come up with a structurally defensible argument for it. Short
of that, it may be necessary to do a demonstration that the wall system
as constructed by Ted Varney meets the minimum requirements for
withstanding the design lateral loads. Is the building official someone
who is approachable? What kind of relationship exists in that particular
jurisdiction or is the CID (state Construction Industry Division) that we
have to deal with? I'd be happy to talk with the building official, write
a letter in support of the alternative method, etc., but don't know what
weight that might have. A structural engineer or possibly even an
architect, licensed in New Mexico would probably have more clout.

This raises the problems associated with developing codes before the
system is mature, and of course it's a chicken and egg situation since
the system won't mature without enough acceptance to allow sufficient
activitity to find the places and ways to optimize it. Anyone else have
anything to add to this one?

David Eisenberg


>From Danny Buck, SBCA
>
>This week, Ted Varney had his current job, here in Santa Fe, red tagged after
>an unannounced visit by his building inspector. The New Mexico building code
>requires that all bales be pinned together vertically and Ted was not doing
>this. He, as have others of us, has found that straw bale infill walls go up
>faster, cost less money and are more stable if duro-wall is stretched between
>the posts and tied off to the bales.
>This speaks to the need to have an on-going dialogue with building
>departments
>as methods evolve. The question we are faced with is how does one quantify
>the
>difference between the two methods? How much does it truly matter how strong
>the wall is during the construction process? It's the finished, plastered
>product that must withstand a test, isn't it? Do we try and test various
>walls at various stages of construction, and if so, what will the results
>tell
>us of any value?
>In the meantime, we need to strategise on how to move through the current
>inpasse and learn answers to all of these questions, as well as how to best
>play the political game.
>Any feedback would be much appreciated (especially from DCAT).
>Thanks,
>Danny


David Eisenberg, Co-Director
Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT)
P.O. Box 27513, Tucson, Arizona 85726-7513
Phone: 520-624-6628 Fax: 520-798-3701
dcat@...
(direct/personal e-mail: strawnet@...)
http://www.azstarnet.com/~dcat
http://www.azstarnet.com/~dcat/barriers.htm


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: 16 Sep 1998 18:46:08 -0500
From: M J Epko <duckchow@...>
Subject: Opportunity in Boise

Word is that there's 64 acres right outside Boise, Idaho, that Farmer
Brown (the farmer who owns the acreage calls himself that) wants to develop
into a multicultural spiritual community utilizing strawbale as a primary
building medium. He's thinking neighborhood, school, large organic gardens,
etc.

A sort of "project foreman" as well as parties interested in planning,
building, relocating, and like-that, are needed.

Email Mike at (email address removed)for some info.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Freewheeling autonomous speculation - Think!
Personality #7 represents only itself.
M J Epko - duckchow@...
Kingston, New Mexico
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A stone is frozen music - Pythagoras


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