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GSBN:ASTM straw bale fire test coming your way

Howdy, Baleheads --

I seem to have stumbled across funding for a good old American ASTM
straw bale fire test, and I want to by God get it right this time.  The
funding source is the same small foundation that underwrote the EBNet
conference 5 years ago, and they have signaled that they can probably
provide the bulk of the cost at the start of their next fiscal year,
which is June 1.

I am very much in the throes of rushing to finish "Design of Plastered
Straw bale Structures" -- a compilation of everything we've tested and
learned worldwide to date -- by the Canadian SB Jubilee in late
September.  Needless to say, it would be great to have that test done,
written up properly, and published in the book for free reproduction.

I write to you all to enlist support.  The more tangible support
(donations) that we can gather from the various straw bale associations
(or individuals), even if very modest amounts, the better our chances
of securing the funding we seek from the foundation.  They like to see
widespread support for a project like this before committing their own

Right now, all I ask is for letters of support.  CASBA (California
Baleheads) have ponied up for $5,000.  If anyone else can chip in, even
just a few hundred bucks, then please send me a letter to that effect
on letterhead via email ASAP.  We won't need actual cash for a month or
two or three.  The testing facility is in San Antonio, Texas, so if any
of you Lone Star baleheads can volunteer time or materials, or even
just work at a wee discount, that would be great, too, and send a
letter letting us know.  We also want to video the whole thing and make
a short DVD, so maybe those of you who can do that sort of thing (is
there anyone but Catherine?), please think about the cost and let us
know, again asap.

I envision testing for a 2 hour rating with thin bales (eg 18" wide
two-stringers) because anything wider could only be a better fire
barrier, thus making the test conservative and more widely useful.  I
also imagine using lime-cement plaster ( 1 part cement : 1 part
hydrated lime : 6 parts sand +/- ) because the kinds of projects that
need a fire rating -- educational, industrial, retail, commercial --
will also tend to want a harder and more durable plaster than one
generally gets with earth.

If funding allows, we'll also then test bales on edge, and
clay-plastered bales, but that would likely take a LOT more money.
Ecological Building Network will raise and manage the funds, and David
Eisenberg/DCAT will be running the test (who could be better?).

This is pretty exciting in that I'm pretty sure it will happen, but I
ask that y'all refrain from deluging David and/or me with questions,
suggestions, death threats, etc. unless it's REALLY important -- we're
both already swamped by this, and we'll die some day anyway.

OK, that's the news from Sausalito.  Please reply asap if you can chip
in, I'd really like to get this thing going.


Bruce King, PE
Director, Ecological Building Network  ( www.ecobuildnetwork.org )
Publisher, Green Building Press  ( www.greenbuildingpress.com )
209 Caledonia St.
Sausalito, CA 94965  USA
(415) 331-7630
bruce@ ecobuildnetwork.org

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