[GSBN] prefab strawbale

Derek Roff derek at unm.edu
Wed Jul 29 16:32:28 CDT 2009


I, too, think it is great that other options are being worked on.  I 
echo John's concerns about embodied energy, and note that 
centralization of activities can have positive and negative impacts. 
Manufacturers will transport straw from the farm to the factory, and 
panels from the factory to the building site, potentially doubling (or 
more) the transportation distances.  They will want a consistent input 
bale, leading toward buying from fewer, larger producers, at greater 
distances.  I am concerned that this tends to cut out the small farmer, 
and moves away from using a local agricultural waste product.

I'm interested in the idea of building modules on the job site, both 
using movable machinery, as John mentions, and on a more do-it-yourself 
level for the owner-builder.  Please share any thoughts with me 
off-list, especially on panel-to-panel connections.

Derelict

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 at unm.edu



--On Wednesday, July 29, 2009 12:03 PM -0700 John Swearingen 
<jswearingen at skillful-means.com> wrote:

> Well I have a number of reactions.  First, it's great that developing
> consistent manufacturing standards for a straw design are being
> explored.  Such a large part of the architectural universe relies on
> products that can be easily specified.
>
> The principle embodied energy in using straw bales--comes in
> transport--they're heavy and bulky and not easily handled in
> quantity.  Pre-fab increases this disadvantage by requiring an
> additional loading/off-loading and transport scenario. The weight of
> both bales and plaster is carried by the earth's atmosphere as
> additional CO2.
>
> Perhaps this is a relatively minor cost compared to the job-site
> convenience of delivery of a finished product at a specified time,
> and pre-fab can assure (as it does for stick construction) a
> consistency and precision of product and (hopefully) more efficient
> and less costly assembly.
>
> I don't see anything particularly about this concept that could not
> be handled on site, perhaps under a cover, with portable equipment. 
> Handling would be greatly reduced, since modules could be assembled
> and placed directly into the building, perhaps with only three sides
> and interlocks when placed adjacent to other panels--something that
> would be more difficult if heavy transport is involved.
>
> All that said, I'm amazed to see this modern prefab technology is
> using broomsticks to stake the bales together!  And I have to say
> that I cringe a little to see bales so tidy and neatly enclosed...but
> then I'm just an old hippy, really.
>
> John "Mod Con" Swearingen
>



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 at unm.edu




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