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RE: GSBN:A long time

David, Derek et al

How long it might be sequestered in a straw bale building is a good
question... Well built buildings may have a very long life as we see
when we go to Europe.

I tracked down one timber frame in the UK with bundled barley straw
infill that was about 400 years old. The straw had just been removed in
a yuppification remodel - but had been mostly in very good shape.

One of the best ways to reduce energy and resource impacts is to
increase service life. Good details, durable materials and quality work.
Countries where you can get a 100 year mortgage encourage careful


David A. Bainbridge
Associate Professor, Sustainable Management
Marshall Goldsmith School of Management
Business & Management Division
Alliant International University
10455 Pomerado Road
San Diego, CA 92131
(858) 635-4616
(858) 635 4528 fax
 WEB: marshallgoldsmith.alliant.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: GSBN [<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:GSBN@...";>mailto:GSBN@...] On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 9:39 AM
To: GSBN@...
Subject: Re: GSBN:A question about quantification of carbon
sequestration in a bale and bale structures

 Thanks Derek,

 I agree with your observations in general, although I think that the
delay of on average probably five decades or more of that release of
many tons of atmospheric carbon for each sb house is part of the
contribution of sb construction to dealing with global warming that
shouldn't be ignored. All the straw that isn't burned but instead is
stored in the walls of buildings for decades is an offset at a time we
are wrestling with ways to reverse the trend.

 In a way this reminds me of the argument I've heard that embodied
energy in a building is dwarfed by the operating energy and so is
insignificant and can be ignored. I think that the embodied energy is
typically quite significant by itself, meaning that operating energy is
enormously significant...in other words, I agree that the ratio is
important and we need to focus our actions where we get the most
effective results, but that doesn't justify ignoring significant impacts
because they are smaller relative to other impacts, or in this case I
think, not claiming a benefit that comes along as part of what we're
already doing. It is just one more benefit, not the primary one, in my

 Kelly's info from the study of Chinese straw bale houses versus their
brick counterparts, and any credible research and evidence showing the
energy use reduction potential of sb are a valuable contributions to the
overall benefits of sb construction.


 -----Original Message-----
 From: derek@...
 To: GSBN@...
 Sent: Tue, 29 Aug 2006 7:26 AM
 Subject: Re: GSBN:A question about quantification of carbon
sequestration in a bale and bale structures

  My memory of the carbon sequestration analysis on the Chinese and
 strawbale structures, is that energy conservation dwarfs the impact of
 carbon stored in the straw. The few tons of carbon in the bales
 are part of the current carbon cycle, where plants grow and take in
 from the air, then die and release the carbon as they decompose. This
 cycle causes no net change in the atmospheric carbon levels.

 While the bales in a house might delay the straw's decomposition by a
 decades, I don't think that we can expect, on average, to lock up much
 atmospheric carbon in strawbale houses for very long.

 In contrast, every bit of fossil fuel burned brings carbon into the
 atmosphere that was sequestered millions of years ago. Fossil fuel use
 caused the dramatic increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, over the
 century. The biggest impact of a strawbale home will be energy
 conservation, leading to decreased use of fossil fuels. This will vary
 with the climate and the success of the design and construction.
 Decreasing fossil fuel use, over the life of a strawbale home, is
likely to
 involve vastly more carbon that that which is in the bales. And all the
 carbon "saved" will be fossil carbon, which would otherwise have
 increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

 I think that carbon sequestration is one of the weaker claims for
 building. On the other hand, energy conservation is variable with
 and structure, making general numbers impossible. Quantifying either of
 these things isn't easy.


 --On August 28, 2006 9:44:09 PM -0400 strawnet@...:

 > Hi all,
 > A friend who we've been working with who is involved with Native
 > American renewable energy projects and also affordable
 > housing for Native Americans just inquired about carbon sequestration
 > bales and bale structures. I know that there has been research done
 > this and that some folks have done work related to getting carbon
 > credits for bale structures but after hunting around a bit here I
 > seem to lay my hands on that info and wondered if anyone on the list
 > credible data and sources of information about that?
 > Thanks for any help any of you might be able to provide.
 > Warmest regards,
 > David Eisenberg

 Derek Roff
 Language Learning Center
 Ortega Hall 129, MSC03-2100
 University of New Mexico
 Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
 505/277-7368, fax 505/277-3885
 Internet: derek@...

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