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Re: GSBN:More from Kelly about China

Hello All,

One of the reasons the straw bale houses are succeeding in China is because they are so very similar to the brick houses. Both are plastered inside and out. The windows vary from location to location and house to house, but not according to whether the walls are of bales or bricks. The heating systems are the same, a coal-burning steel firebox (leaky) hooked to a kang (raised platform with stove exhaust snaking through it) or firewall (brick wall with exhaust snaking through it) or both. I do not recall any intake or exhaust dampers, but I'm not sure. Ceiling insulation is usually bagged sawdust in both cases, and roofs and ceilings are the same. Floors are slabs. We're introducing the idea of coal slag as floor insulation, but it hasn't caught on yet.

The stoves do draw from the interior (as does the separate cooking stove), and so the fact that the bale houses use alot less coal points in the direction of Derek's conclusion as the major reason for moister interior air. The other factor at work is that the brick walls are acting as de-facto dehumidifiers in the winter- their interior surfaces are apparently quite cold- so much so that frost is common in the corners of the buildings. When people don't have this problem in the bale houses (thanks as much to the exterior insulation in the bond beams as to the bales) they are surprised and very happy.


Paul Lacinski
Amy Klippenstein
GreenSpace Collaborative
Sidehill Farm
PO Box 107
463 Main St.
Ashfield, MA 01330 USA