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GSBN:message from Kelly Lerner on Carbon mitigation credits

Kelly, et all

I just want to add to this excellent message that ultimately we should 
figure out the size of the CO2 benefit from replacing all the fired clay 
bricks and other wall system components that would have been used with 
the materials that go into a bale wall system.  Perhaps someone well 
experienced with LCA (life cycle analysis) in relation to carbon and 
energy issues could be found to do this evaluation.  It seems that it 
would be well justified, both in terms of the potential benefits of 
having this information in a comprehensive form and having it done by a 
credible, third party, to find the money to hire someone of high repute 
professionally to do this work.  The results of such a study could 
leverage a lot of support for bale projects in places like China, 
Mongolia, and elsewhere.

David Eisenberg

Kelly's Message:

From:adraprc@...(Kelly Lerner)
To:GSBN@...,  huffnpuff@...,  strawnet@...

Hi all (David, could you please post this to the GSBN list - I don't 
think I can post from this address in China).

While I don't want to ignore the importance of sequestering CO2, it still 
seems to me that the most important impact of straw-bale construction is 
it's energy efficiency over time. In China we mitigate as much CO2 
emissions in the first winter as we do with sequestering. (see below). 
Since we have excellent computer modeling for energy use in buildings, it 
should be an easy task to estimate the amount of CO2 mitigated by an 
energy efficient SB. And of course, the better the design, the more CO2 

If you want to delve deeper into the issues of greenhouse gas emission 
reductions an excellent resource would be Sean Clark at Trexler and 
Associates, http://www.climateservices.com/.

I've posted this example from China before, but here it is again:

While carbon sequestering is a clear benefit of straw-bale construction 
it pales in comparison to the potential benefits of reduced carbon 
dioxide emissions (due to energy efficiency) over the life of the 
building. Of course, these benefits only accrue in a climate that 
requires heating or cooling. In coal burning areas like Mongolia and 
China, the benefits accrue even more quickly.

Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, has been clearly linked to global 
warming. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was envisioned during the 
1997 Kyoto Summit as a way for "developed" nations to assist "developing" 
nations develop "clean" technologies. Burning one ton of coal emits about 
1.3 tons of carbon dioxide. If straw-bale construction coupled with 
passive solar design gives a 70% energy savings, a village of 200 houses 
could emit 700 less tons of carbon dioxide per year. Just some quick math 
and simplistic explanations from the ADRA project in China:

We're building new straw-bale houses which would have been new brick 
houses. In Heilongjiang, the new brick houses burn 5 tonnes of 
coal/winter. Let's say our straw-bale insulated, day-lit, passive solar 
models will be 75% more efficient - only use 1.25 tonnes of coal/winter 
(basically, families will be heating with just the fuel they currently 
use for cooking). That's a savings of 3.75 tonnes of coal/winter. Each 
tonne of coal gives off 1.3 tonnes of CO2. The CO2 market dictates the 
effective lifetime of the house is 30 years (even though we know it will 
last much longer). The total impact: 3.75 tonnes of coal/winter X 1.3 
tonnes of CO2/tonne of coal X 30 years = 146.25 tonnes of reduced CO2 
emissions over 30 years for each house. Of course this equation doesn't 
take into consideration improved air quality, higher comfort, better 
winter health, reduced clay mining and brick manufacture, increased 
seismic safety, etc. etc. etc.

Sample CO2 Reductions
sum sequestration 3 tonnes(??)
sum replacing bricks with straw (reduce brick firing) 3 tonnes
sum reduced brick transportation 1 tonne
sum reduced emissions over 30 years 146.25 tonnes
 Total 153.25 tonnes reduction

On the financial end of CO2 trading, politics dictate the show. The world 
community is still very early in the process of setting up systems that 
will allow carbon credits to be traded. The recent meetings at the Hague 
started to set up the rules and processes that will define the Clean 
Development Mechanism (CDM) - process where by polluting developed 
nations can "trade" CO2 credits in order to help less developed nations 
develop in a cleaner way.

In the best possible scenario for our project, the politicos will allow 
(and encourage) small development projects with added humanitarian value, 
and will allow "future" carbon savings - savings which span the lifetime 
of the "improvement" (in our case, housing). The United States' stand on 
the Kyoto protocol will dictate the path of the CO2 market in the next 
few years.

A 600 sf, partially owner-built straw-bale house in Heilongjiang, China 
costs a little over $2000. In order to spread the technology, ADRA gives 
a $750 - $1000 subsidy per house plus technical support for the Chinese 
builders, owner-builders and project managers. In order for the whole 
thing to achieve sustainable, "large scale" replication (more than 50 
houses at a time), ADRA needs about $1250/house to cover subsidy plus 
overhead (management, staff, travel, etc.). Back to simple math - $1250 
USD / 153.25 tonnes CO2 emissions reduction = a little over $8.00/tonne 
of CO2 emissions reduction. A small price to pay for the future of a 
planet, no?

If all goes according to plans, ADRA China will use CDM funding and work 
with local village associations to help owner-builders to build a 
straw-bale houses. Each family who wants to build a house could receive 
60% of the building material costs (about $500), a choice of several 
building designs, materials lists, attend a straw-bale building workshop, 
and get building help from their fellow owner-builders. ADRA would 
provide training and advice during construction of the house. The final 
details of the CDM are still being hammered out, but it may be a huge 
source of funding for straw-bale housing in coal burning regions. 

Good Luck with the politicos,



At 10:50 PM 7/25/01 -0500, you wrote:
- Re: Carbon Credits & Straw Bale
From: Huff 'n' Puff Constructions 
Subject: Re: Carbon Credits & Straw Bale

G ' Day Balers

Long time no talk but we have been up North in sunny Queensland and have 
not had time to contribute to the lists but we are back in Golden Ganmain 
for a while. So I will be able to catch up with all of you.

Need some help with the carbon credits and straw bales as a carbon sink. 
I had a meeting with our local Federal Member of the House of Reps, Kay 
Hull, and Kay was exited about the possibilities of using straw as a 
vegetation for sequestering carbon. (There is an election upcoming this 
year!) As you are all aware I am sure by now that things are moving in 
the right direction re greenhouse emissions. Australia and the USA have 
been the bad guys and probably still are as far as the ratification of 
the Kyoto protocol goes. This is of course open to debate I suppose.

But who knows what goes on in the corridors of power when it comes down 
to big business. President Shrub has indicated that the latest agreement 
is one that is workable and suddenly he appears to be green! So I know 
that Kelly Learner and the Skillful one have information on the workings 
of straw bale and carbon credits and I have some info to support our case 
here in Australia. However if any of you on these lists have anything 
more to share with us in order that we may go into the upcoming meetings 
with the Federal Government in Canberra, (first meeting 20/8 with the 
Department of Industry and Technology followed by one with the office of 
the Minister for the Environment).

So any help will be appreciated as we journey to the Capital of our great 
land I am taking up a crash course on beaurocrat speak and we will be 
going in to bat for straw bale and carbon fixing. However when the State 
Minister of Agriculture does not know what a straw bale is then I feel we 
will have an uphill battle.

Good to be back and BTW the 2002 Corroboree Down Under is DEFINITELY ON, 
details will be forthcoming as soon as I have caught up with all my 
emails etc.

Regards The Straw Wolf
61 2 6927 6027

Please do not reply to this address! Send all emails to 
Kelly Lerner
One World Design, Design and Consulting
925 Avis Drive
El Cerrito, California, 94530, USA
510-525-8582 phone, 510-528-8763 fax