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GSBN: Digest for 5/6/06



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-> GSBN: Fire test
     by larskeller@...
-> Re: GSBN: Fire test
     by strawnet@...


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Date: 6 May 2006 16:04:36 -0600
From: larskeller@...
Subject: GSBN: Fire test

The following is a request / suggestion which I am passing on on
behalf of Joergen Munch-Andersen, whom some of you might have met at
the ISBBC 04.
Joergen is Senior Researcher at the Danish Building Research Institute
(www.sbi.dk) and has for more than 5 years consistently been
constructively critical and he has made a huge difference towards
making SBC  an accepted building method in Denmark.
Furthermore I should say that Joergen has on several occasions shown
that he is ready to put in time.

Best regards
Lars

- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jorgen Munch-Andersen jma@...
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 17:32:14 +0200
Subject: SV: Brandtest i Californien.
To: larskeller@...

It would be most useful if somebody could compile a comparison between
American and European test methods and requirements. That would help
tremendously when trying to transfer tests and experiences.

In all of Europe the test methods are almost the same so the
CEN-standards can be used as a reference. On the other hand the
Building Regulations are quite different in the different countries.
But the test results can be transfered within Europe. Seen from this
side of the pond the comparison of test methods is the most important.

I cannot help to wonder why 2 hours fire resistance is relevant to
straw-buildings. In Europe that is only relevant for high rise
buildings. But if the test conditions are much different it could be
part of the explanation. One should remember that the time we refer to
is for a standard fire with a specified temperature as function of
time.

A report on a Danish research project on SB - partly written in
English - can be downloaded as pdf from:
<a  target="_blank" href="http://www.sbi.dk/byggeteknik/konstruktioner/serlige-konstruktioner/halmhuse/halmhuse";>http://www.sbi.dk/byggeteknik/konstruktioner/serlige-konstruktioner/halmhuse/halmhuse</a>

Slides in English from a presentation of the report:
<a  target="_blank" href="http://www.sbi.dk/download/pdf/jma_slides_halmhuse.pdf";>http://www.sbi.dk/download/pdf/jma_slides_halmhuse.pdf</a>

Jorgen Munch-Andersen
Senior Researcher, PhD
Danish Building Research Institute (SBi)
Dr Neergaardsvej 15
DK-2970 Horsholm
jma@...
Tel +45 4574 2388 (dir)
Fax +45 4586 7535


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Date: 6 May 2006 17:55:44 -0600
From: strawnet@...
Subject: Re: GSBN: Fire test

Lars, Joergen, and everyone.

Among the discussions that have been taking place off-list in relation 
to the seemingly widespread disdain for testing a cement-lime plastered 
bale wall, we have been considering the nature of exactly the question 
that Joergen raises - "I cannot help to wonder why 2 hours fire 
resistance is relevant to straw-buildings."

We fully recognize that for most of the builders and designers on this 
list, the projects they do don't require a fire rating. And so, other 
than the potential benefit that will likely result in gaining 
acceptance with insurance companies, and the ability to further 
reassure clients about the fire safety of bale structures, these two 
tests will be relatively insignificant for those doing primarily single 
family houses.

However, more and more of us in the US have been getting involved in 
larger projects for schools and other commercial or institutional 
buildings. These buildings almost always do have fire rating 
requirements and they are also more likely to require highly durable, 
lower maintenance wall finishes that can be reliably applied with 
fairly certain performance in terms of durability and cost. Thus the 
interest and need to have available test results for cement-lime 
plasters - which meet those particular characteristics with far greater 
regularity than either lime or earthen plasters in their current state 
of development and use in the US. This is not a knock on anyone - just 
an observation of mine that has been reinforced by conversations with 
numerous others who are struggling to get these systems to a point 
where they are commercially viable, cost-effective and reliable enough 
for the people who must take on the liability of doing these types of 
buildings.

The research carried out by John Straube, showing the remarkable 
increase in water vapor permeability of cement-lime stucco resulting 
 from the addition of more lime has reduced some of the concerns about 
moisture management in these types of assemblies, as well. (See the 
research results on the Ecological Building Network website 
www.ecobuildnetwork.org). None of this denies or dismisses the issues 
surrounding the environmental impacts of portland cement including its 
contribution to global warming. This is just where we are in the 
current state of evolution of this building system. And it's worth 
noting that the climate impacts from the production of lime are not 
insignificant either.

It is worth noting that we've also heard from others who contend that 
the inclusion of a test of earthen plaster on straw bale has little 
practical value at this point in time. Their reasoning is that the 
buildings that could most benefit from this don't require a fire rating 
in the first place and the buildings that do need it are unlikely to be 
using earthen plaster for durability and maintenance reasons.

I confess that I was glad to see the widespread support for testing an 
earthen plastered wall for many of the reasons stated in all those 
messages to this list. But for me there is an even bigger reason behind 
testing an earthen plastered wall in addition to a cement-lime 
plastered wall. Here is part of my contribution to that discussion:

"The other factor that weighs heavily in favor of testing an earthen 
plaster wall is the same that motivated my initial efforts in trying to 
develop "appropriate" ASTM standards for earthen architecture, and 
which also motivates Bruce's current efforts in that realm, which is 
the degree to which US standards, codes, test results, etc. have weight 
and credibility elsewhere, especially in developing countries. Knowing 
how much trouble advocates around the world are having in gaining 
approval for any earthen building, or alternatives like straw bale, 
earthen plasters, etc., and how much acceptance in the US makes these 
things acceptable elsewhere, I think this test is important. It will 
also, assuming of course that it is successful, open the door for much 
more use of earthen plasters here in this country, including in some 
applications that may be fairly "boutique" in the large scheme of 
things at this point in time.
And things are going to change pretty drastically at some not too 
distant point in time as petrol and climate realities become more and 
more evident and our options and ability to use whatever resource- and 
energy-intensive thing that we like become less and less viable. A lot 
of these things that are niche status today may become much more 
mainstream sooner than we imagine and it would be very good to have 
such test results to point to when things start to shift, rather than 
scrambling to find the resources (not to mention the natural gas to 
fire these walls) at that point...Anyway, that's my thinking on it."

Bruce chimed in with this: "I believe that IF an earth-plastered wall 
can pass the test (not by any means certain -- the fire's not the 
problem, but the hose test scares me), then we will have leapfrogged 
forward, so to speak. The benefit would accrue not just to the 
EarthFirst! crowd of baleheads, but in oblique ways bolster the 
acceptance of earthen construction in general -- something I very much 
want to do. And, as David said, we ain't gonna have cheap oil in the 
very near future, so let's take the long view and plan ahead."

So, for big reasons and current realities, we're aiming to satisfy both 
of these needs in the most careful and thoughtful way we can. We would 
love to be in the position to conduct many more tests and hopefully we 
will, but in the meantime, we're going to make sure we do whatever we 
can to get one and hopefully two successful 2-hour full scale fire 
tests done. That would lay to rest any questions about fire safety for 
almost any type of occupancy for which we envision bale walls being 
used. And this will cap the suite of tests that Ecological Building 
Network oversaw with funding from the State of California...all of 
which will be available in the book Bruce is working on as well as on 
his website.

As for comparisons between testing standards, I would love to see such 
a comparison, though there are a great many different tests and test 
methods for construction and construction materials. Perhaps there is 
already something along the lines of such a comparison as a result of 
the international standardization efforts. It would be a great thing to 
know about the similarities and differences between different 
countries' testing protocols. For instance, I have seen no mention in 
any of the discussion of other fire tests of the equivalent of a hose 
stream test. My guess is that the ASTM E-119 with hose stream test is 
the most demanding fire test protocol and if we can pass that test here 
it would be acceptable anywhere. Perhaps someone out there is in a 
position to begin compiling technical descriptions of the testing 
protocols from around the world... Anyone?

Soon we'll have a better idea of whether we've made wise decisions. The 
true test will be the tests themselves...
onward,
David Eisenberg

- -----Original Message-----
From: Lars Keller larskeller@...
To: GSBN@...
Cc: jma@...
Sent: Sun, 7 May 2006 07:20:32 +0930
Subject: GSBN: Fire test

  The following is a request / suggestion which I am passing on on
 behalf of Joergen Munch-Andersen, whom some of you might have met at
 the ISBBC 04.
 Joergen is Senior Researcher at the Danish Building Research Institute
 (www.sbi.dk) and has for more than 5 years consistently been
 constructively critical and he has made a huge difference towards
 making SBC an accepted building method in Denmark.
 Furthermore I should say that Joergen has on several occasions shown
 that he is ready to put in time.

 Best regards
 Lars

 ---------- Forwarded message ----------
 From: J=C3=B8rgen Munch-Andersen jma@...
 Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2006 17:32:14 +0200
 Subject: SV: Brandtest i Californien.
 To: larskeller@...

 It would be most useful if somebody could compile a comparison between
 American and European test methods and requirements. That would help
 tremendously when trying to transfer tests and experiences.

 In all of Europe the test methods are almost the same so the
 CEN-standards can be used as a reference. On the other hand the
 Building Regulations are quite different in the different countries.
 But the test results can be transfered within Europe. Seen from this
 side of the pond the comparison of test methods is the most important.

 I cannot help to wonder why 2 hours fire resistance is relevant to
 straw-buildings. In Europe that is only relevant for high rise
 buildings. But if the test conditions are much different it could be
 part of the explanation. One should remember that the time we refer to
 is for a standard fire with a specified temperature as function of
 time.

 A report on a Danish research project on SB - partly written in
 English - can be downloaded as pdf from:
  
<a  target="_blank" href="http://www.sbi.dk/byggeteknik/konstruktioner/serlige-konstruktioner/halmh";>http://www.sbi.dk/byggeteknik/konstruktioner/serlige-konstruktioner/halmh</a>
use/halmhuse

 Slides in English from a presentation of the report:
 <a  target="_blank" href="http://www.sbi.dk/download/pdf/jma_slides_halmhuse.pdf";>http://www.sbi.dk/download/pdf/jma_slides_halmhuse.pdf</a>

 J=C3=B8rgen Munch-Andersen
 Senior Researcher, PhD
 Danish Building Research Institute (SBi)
 Dr Neergaardsvej 15
 DK-2970 H=C3=B8rsholm
 jma@...
 Tel +45 4574 2388 (dir)
 Fax +45 4586 7535
 ----
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