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Re: GSBN:One more GSBN'er ...

  Alex and all,

 Your valuable comments, addressed to Caroline, may actually be more appropriately directed to one of the other new members of GSBN, Darcy Donovan, the structural engineer who has been working with Caroline on the Pakistan project helping to resolve the seismic issues that also concern you. Darcy is a California structural engineer and member of CASBA and as such has a lot of experience dealing with some of the more stringent seismic codes anywhere for both conventional and sb structures. Of course, the same is true of Bruce King. And if you haven't yet ordered or gotten a copy of The Design of Straw Bale Buildings, Bruce's new book, I can't recommend it highly enough as a resource for dealing with exactly the kinds of questions and challenges you are facing. That is exactly why it was written.

 I don't know when Martin Hammer, who is heading to Pakistan (if not there already), will be hand delivering the news to Darcy that she's now a member of the GSBN or exactly what kind of internet access she'll have where she's working. So I don't know when she'll be joining in on this conversation. The same is true for Caroline. In fact, we haven't yet had word from Bill that she's been added to the listserve.

 But there are a good number of other GSBN members who are very knowledgeable and experienced with seismic design and straw bale construction. Certainly Kelly Lerner and her work in both Mongolia and China and others have worked at the issue of balancing the resource and money intensity of conventional engineering approaches overlaid on straw bale construction with the need for affordability, resource efficiency and, of course, safety.

 In spite of what the building officials or uninitiated engineers may believe, it is not the case that the only or best way to build earthquake resistant sb structures is post and beam. It may be the easiest for the officials or for structural engineers who are not knowledgeable about the performance of bale structures to make their calculations, but they typically assume that a bale structure without another structural system is incapable of dealing with any loads, dynamic or otherwise, and we know that that is not true.
    It seems likely that a loadbearing sb house, properly built and tied together, would be a safer dwelling than many conventionally built structures designed to resist earthquakes in an actual seismic event. As David Mar (another CASBA member and leading seismic engineer in California) has pointed out, bales have characteristics that seismic engineers seek - they are strong but also ductile and energy-absorbing - they can support loads, move and bend and not fail and they don't transfer as much energy to the upper parts of a structure (the roof or upper floors) in a seismic event as conventional building materials or systems do. Thus they have the potential for superior seismic survivability. The key is in tying the structure together properly.

 I hadn't intended to write this much. I'm certainly well aware of the challenges of gaining code approval for these structures, especially in high seismic regions, and I hope that they can be turned around in a relatively short timeframe. Ultimately, if you can build these structures in high seismic areas of California, you should be able to build them in Israel or anywhere else.

 Lastly, I wanted to point people to an article about the Pakistan project that I stumbled across on the web - that is actually in a bilingual paper in California - in English and Spanish. It's at www.moonshineink.com/ and if you click on the line that says Download the August/September 2006 Issue (3.2MB PDF file) you will be able to download it - or just paste this url into your web browser: <a  target="_blank" href="http://www.moonshineink.com/archives/Vintage_4_Nip_9.pdf";>http://www.moonshineink.com/archives/Vintage_4_Nip_9.pdf</a>

 Keep up your good work, Alex. Hopefully soon these things will start to get easier. This network is a great vehicle for sharing just these kinds of information and resources.

 Warmest regards,

 David Eisenberg

 -----Original Message-----
 From: lotan-build@...
 To: fredmeyer8@...
 Cc: GSBN@...
 Sent: Sat, 21 Oct 2006 10:14 PM
 Subject: RE: GSBN:One more GSBN'er ...

  Dear Caroline,
Welcome to the GSBN.
I hope that your presence will add some more knowledge and wisdom in the
world of SB construction at its simplest level - simple and safe shelter.
We were unable to send a representative to this (or past) ISBBC -
nevertheless we are hungry for learning about SB construction for use our
seismically active areas: Israel, Sinai-Egypt, Jordan and Palestine.

In order to fulfill the requirements of the building authorities, we can not
utilize load bearing SB's - we must present an earthquake resistant, dead
and wind load viable post and beam structure.  Invariably proportionally
more material goes into the roof structure so I believe it is moot to
refrain from constructing with posts.  Nevertheless this material, whether
RHS Steel, angle iron worked into trusses and/or wood elements are costly
and demand professional construction.  We have a natural aversion to
reinforced concrete structural units that I think you can appreciate.  We
would appreciate your input into our continuing search for proven structural
designs (wall and roof framing) of complete SB insulated envelopes.  Perhaps
your work in Pakistan has led to innovative, efficient structural

We'd appreciate whatever materials; words, plans and photographs, you can
share with us.  If there is a cost involved for reproducing CD's/plans - or
you request a donation for the relief/development organizations you are
working with  - please let me know.

If you do end up in this particular neighborhood, please consider yourself
formally invited to visit us - we (our community and students) would love to
meet you and learn first hand from your experience.

Our first SB/earthplastered geo-dome* (quick, strong, engineer approved) is
being lived in but it is not yet "cleaned up" enough to photograph before
publication in TLS. We're working on that. I'll also post info on it in GSBN
so that it can be imitated if considered utilitarian and socially

Take care and continued good fortune,

Alex Cicelsky; Design, Construction and Education
Center for Creative Ecology
Kibbutz Lotan, D.N. Eilot 88855  Israel
Tel: 08-6356914, Mobile: 054-979-9009, Fax: 08-6356842
Email: lotan-build@...

Please Visit Our Websites:

 -----Original Message-----
From:   Catherine Wanek [<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:cat@strawbalecentral.com";>mailto:cat@...]
Sent:   Sunday, October 22, 2006 5:48 AM
Subject:    Re: GSBN:One more GSBN'er ...

At 09:01 PM 10/21/2006, Lars wrote:
>..........I suggest that Caroline Meyer White is invited to join this list.
>The first and primary reason is Carolines present ingagement in

I second Caroline's nomination.  Her presentation at the ISBBC was so
impressive, in that she responded to the need in Pakistan after the
earthquake with an incredible determination and passion for
people-first natural building (that Lars speaks of).  I'd love to
hear more from and about Caroline.

best regards,

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