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Re: GSBN:French building code (DTU)

Andre -

Sorry it's taken a few days for me to weigh in on this.  This is a timely
question for me as I am currently steeped in the subject of SB codes.  Both
with my work on the proposed California SB Code and writing/coordinating
articles for the next issue of The Last Straw regarding SB codes worldwide.
Part of me wants to say - Wait 5 or 6 weeks and read TLS.  But at risk of
rewriting some of what will be in that issue, and in the interest of a more
timely and tailored response:

I share Rene's sentiment - "Beware of the pitfalls of a building code." and
that -  "The technology is still rapidly developing . . ."

BUT, I firmly believe that the benefits of a well-written SB code far
outweigh any detriment.  Creating a well-written code is no easy task, and
takes great knowledge, foresight, finesse, wisdom, skill, etcetera.  No
single person has all of that.  It is something I've been struggling with
for some time with the proposed California SB Code.  As well as living with,
and then revising the 10 year California SB Guidelines.  I'm finding that
thorough peer review is essential, and from as many perspectives as

Most US SB codes, including California, were derived from the Tucson/Pima
County, Arizona code.  Although groundbreaking and worth much more than the
troubles it has caused, it, its descendents, and the few other unrelated US
SB codes are all seriously flawed.  Because of that, and because of a
request by the State of California, I've been developing a proposed SB Code
for the State.  The process was in limbo for a year, but it has recently
been put back on track.  I had 4 intense and productive peer review meetings
last week.  I am trying to forge it before imminent deadlines from the
State.  It's unclear whether it will be complete and have sufficient support
from the various "players" to go through the current code cycle here.   I do
have high confidence that when "finished" it will be the best SB code

Regardless of whether it is adopted in California this year, I plan to
share/discuss it again at our Spring CASBA conference, as well as at the
September ISBBC conference.  I could do the same with interested GSBN
parties, or simply share it with you, Andre.   Of course it would carry much
more weight for your purposes if it were officially adopted in California

A year or two ago I put it out via e-mail to certain people for review.  I'm
especially interested in the non-US perspective, because I can see it
traveling across borders, and I have plans to get some version of it into
the International Building Code.  Although the name "International" is
currently a bit of a misnomer (there go those arrogant Americans again, and
will they stop calling their baseball championship the World Series), it is
beginning to be used internationally, either wholesale or in part.  If there
ever is a SB section in the IBC it should be as universal as possible.

The only non-US SB code I'm aware of is in Belarus.  It is an "Official
Technical Code", which Evgeny Shirokov describes as being much like the
Tucson, Arizona code, regarding bales, moisture, density, etc.  There is no
English version of it, so I assume it is no better or worse than what we
have in the US.  There will be an effort in 2006 to create a State Standard,
the highest level in the National Code.

Germany is about to finalize a very limited SB "Code" for a particular wall
assembly.  Certain things about it may help you (See TLS #53!), but it is
not broad enough for your general purpose.

Regarding the Danish 'By og Byg Halmhuse' documents, here's a description
from Lars Keller:
"J¿rgen Munch-Andersen (MSc, CivEng)(jma@sbi.dk) was in charge of the
testprogramme at the Danish Building Research Institute.   I THINK: the
tests did not result in Building Codes per se. The tests resulted in
recommendations (Resultater 033). But, being published by the one and only
Institute in Denmark publishing these things, it is a very powerful thing to
bring to your building inspector."

I've attached a distilled version of the full document (in English) as
presented by Joergen at ISBBC 2004.  The full document is over 60 pages
long, mostly in Danish, with 8 pages in English (re: thermal performance,
moisture).   It is a collection of testing documentation and design
guidelines.  Without reading Danish, on the surface it seems to be an
impressive document.  As Rene suggested, it may be useful to you.  I suppose
it is in the public domain, but you should check with Jorgen regarding any
substantial use of it.

In a follow up e-mail I will send it by attachment (large file size) and
give you the download address.

Of the currently adopted US codes, I can't wholeheartedly recommend any of
them.  If I have to pick one I'm partial to California's Guidelines, because
it does not require pinning, but otherwise it is not that different from its
siblings. (See the CASBA website for its text and a summary of the 2002
revisions - www.strawbuilding.org)
In spite of what I said at the outset, whether there's a code, a guideline,
or nothing at all, most people say that getting permission to build a SB
building is not that difficult.  Especially after the ice is broken in a
jurisdiction.  At the same time there is the occasional horror story or long
battle, or there are buildings out there that we may or may not know about,
that are being built poorly for lack of officially enforced minimum
practice.  That is - a code.  And a government adopted code goes a long way
regarding insurance and financing institutions.  Both of those are
presenting real problems in a number of places.  So I come back to where I
started, advocating for a good SB Code (and earthen, bamboo, straw-clay,
etc, for that matter!) wherever SB buildings are built.

I will stop here.  You can read more when you receive the next TLS.  If
there is greater urgency for something in particular, I will help in any way
I can.  In the same issue of TLS you will see a wealth of information from
Bruce King regarding the latest on SB testing.  A precursor to his upcoming
book.  This information could be very helpful to you as well.  Testing and
codes go hand in hand.

I hope this helps. 

Martin Hammer
California, USA

> Helo everyone,
> As some of you know, France is similar to Crestone in that we have no
> obligation
> to follow building codes. This 'anarchy' is very much appreciated by the owner
> builders but has a the downside that we don't have the same common (owner
> builders and proffessional builders) incentive to obtain a french building
> code
> (called DTU).
> T support the/future proffessional builders there is a certain demand for a
> french SB DTU (so proffessionals can more easily be covered by an insurance).
> We hope to have a national reunion this spring, and a future DTU will
> certainly
> be one of the main subjects. Some feel that 1 building method should be chosen
> (imagine 15 cheese smelling guys and girls all having a different opinion on
> which method should be chosen) and other feel it should be a general code not
> excluding anything.
> My basic questions are:
> - Are there any building codes (or other documents) that you feel are so good
> they could be used as a blueprint.
> - How have you gone about in your country?
> - What's up in the rest of Europe?
> Any input is very much appreciated,
> Andr?
> La Maison en Paille
> www.lamaisonenpaille.com

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