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RE: GSBN:A question about quantification of carbon sequestration in a bale and bale structures

<x-charset windows-1250>My recollection in getting carbon credits for buildings in Mongolia, was
that the argument was three pronged:  (1) Fossil fuels are conserved, in
large quantities, because of the insulation advantages of straw, (2) fossil
fuels are conserved in using low-embodied energy straw over high-embodied
energy concrete, and (3) carbon is sequestered.

As Derek says, the energy conservation from the insulation is the greatest
of the three, but the notion of carbon sequestration provide the rational to
go for carbon credits.  I believe they eventually got about $1M for the

John "Fossil" Swearingen

John Swearingen
design and construction

-----Original Message-----
From: GSBN [<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:GSBN@...";>mailto:GSBN@...] On Behalf Of Derek Roff
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 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 Mongolian
strawbale structures, is that energy conservation dwarfs the impact of the
carbon stored in the straw.  The few tons of carbon in the bales themselves
are part of the current carbon cycle, where plants grow and take in carbon
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 few
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 has
caused the dramatic increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, over the last
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 directly increased
the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

I think that carbon sequestration is one of the weaker claims for strawbale
building.  On the other hand, energy conservation is variable with climate
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 
> energy-efficient housing for Native Americans just inquired about 
> carbon sequestration in bales and bale structures. I know that there 
> has been research done on this and that some folks have done work 
> related to getting carbon trading credits for bale structures but 
> after hunting around a bit here I can't seem to lay my hands on that 
> info and wondered if anyone on the list has 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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