[GSBN] prefab strawbale

caroline meyer white fredmeyer8 at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 14 05:44:15 CDT 2009

Hi Derek, 
Thanks for your reply.
What I, in an affaul lot of words, is trying to say, is that I think we need prefab elements, be it Modcell or any other. And I personally think that if e.g. what we would consider a large amount of wood in the frame or some other sort of compromise, is what you have to do, to make it easy for a conventional contracter to choose your panel, then I can live with that compromise. Because the general carbon footprint, or which ever method we choose to measure with, will still be fare better then any other mainstream alternative that I at least know of.
So my inquirries were mainly to say that I don't think it is right to compare these panels - be it Modcell or any other, with loadbearing balehouses, because they have the potentiel to reach a market that we unfortunately don't seem to be able to reach with the more specific balehouse techniques.
Secondly some of the discussion on the list seemed to not take in the information actually given on Modcells website. Such as the local assembling of the panels - Of course on site assembling is great, but if the panels are assembled at the barn where the straw is sitting anyway, there isn't really any additional transportation involved.
They have the "lite" panels, where the frame is 50 mm but with 2 I-beam wooden posts inside the panel, a light osb I-beam I think. That helps a bit on the amount of wood and I am curios why the are not all done like that.
My curiosity in this prefab thing has leed me to having just arrived in Bath to do my 5th semester engineering internship, I will be following a research project on the Balehouse, where some of all of these issues will be adressed. When I first saw the panels I had all the same reservations as expressed on this list, and I still do! I am very keen to get a look at the need for that heavy wood frame, to find a design where local wood can be used, to encourage testing and considering earthern plasters in locations where that will be sufficient. To find better ways of assembling the panels etc. 
So I am all with you, and in the end, we are a few people hoping to set up something as appropriate as can be, in Denmark. So I was very excited about the discussion on the list, and a bit dissapointed that it kept coming back to this comparison of systems that don't do the same.. I like the lighter versions of panels that Chris talked about, I just find it important to have the whole specter and accept that oned of it, which will be most "normal" may need compromises.
I think it is as Bruce mentioned earlier, that these guys are really open to suggestions, and still ongoing with lots of testing. Any good suggestions that are shared I am sure will be taken in account. I am told that the engineers involved are very conservative (not a surprice), and probably some convincing strength on bales could be really helpfull, in order to help them to calculate the bales into the system.
When there is more to share from over here I will be very happy to do so. And I am obviously keen to get more details on the other pre fab systems that you or anybody else knows about.


Kender du: engodsag.dk ? 

Eller paksbab.org ?

--- On Fri, 9/11/09, Derek Roff <derek at unm.edu> wrote:

From: Derek Roff <derek at unm.edu>
Subject: Re: [GSBN] prefab strawbale
To: "Global Straw Building Network" <GSBN at greenbuilder.com>
Date: Friday, September 11, 2009, 3:58 PM

Thanks for your comments, Caroline.  I am very interested in strawbale 
panels, and in finding ways to increase the use of bales in all kinds 
of construction.  I agree with you, that we will need to find more 
industrial bale building methods, if we are to interest certain 
segments of the building industry.

A different question is comparing the specific Modcell prefab panel 
method/technology/approach to what other companies are doing, using 
different prefab panel methods.  I've seen buildings and building 
methods using factory assembled stawbale panels that I like better.  Of 
course, what I have seen and read cannot equate to a rigorous, 
scientific comparison, but I think that there are prefab panel 
approaches in use in Switzerland, Austria, Canada, and probably other 
places, that look more promising to me than Modcell.

Caroline, are you saying that you think Modcell is the best prefab 
method available, or that we need an industrial prefab method, such as 
Modcell or something like it?

Best wishes,


--On Friday, September 11, 2009 9:27 AM -0700 caroline meyer white 
<fredmeyer8 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Dear All,
> Knowing that I am very late in this respons, I feel like I should
> make it anyway.
> In Denmark for some time, we have had an ungoing discussion on, how
> to make strawbale construction breaking through. Because, there is no
> doubt, the load bearing houses, build in lovely parties,
> strenghtening community etc, well you can't do better then that, when
> you want to see environment and livelyhoods flourish.
> But how much of the market do we reach? I am affraid that I have lost
> the belief in, that we will get to have a very big market share using
> the different bale techniques that are out there. At least in
> Denmark, no construction worker - be it trained in carpentry, masonry
> or simular trades touch bale construction. It is to fare from what
> they have learned. And then not to talk about more industrialized
> buildings, not just thinking of residential homes.
> SO..I think Modcell is the best suggestion out there to break the
> market. We have the absolutely more appropriate solutions for the
> people who will engage them selves in building their homes, be it in
> Europe/US or any where on the planet, where you always build your
> home your self. But if we want to change some carbon footprint, it's
> the heavy guys we need to reach, and then be there a lot of wood in
> the structure or not. - With the Modcell nobody needs to care about
> that it's straw thats inside it, once it reaches the building site.
> And that may be what makes it duable for the conventional market. -
> Allowing straw to become an insulation material like any other, not a
> hippie-style of construction, which is the impression that any
> conventional builder has about the way I have at least build all my
> houses.
> Considering the transportation, I just want to mention, if you
> haden't seen on the web site, that they construct the panels always
> in a local barn, so transportation is never more then a few miles
> with the completed panels and only the woodframes are coming in from
> a fare.
> So having defended this, I agree that their may be ways of
> improvement, which Modcell themselves are working on as well. My
> point is just, that this alternative potentially can reach a market
> that we (being all us balers) can't reach. And which may in the end
> have a very large impact on our beautiful planet.
> All the best
> Caroline
> From: Brian <brian at anvill.com.au>
> Subject: Re: [GSBN] prefab strawbale
> To: "'(private, with public archives) Global Straw Building Network'"
> <GSBN at greenbuilder.com>
> Date: Sunday, August 2, 2009, 5:24 PM
> Hi All,
> I have been interested in prefab wall panels for some time, but have
> difficulty finding the appropriate time and skill savings. My son
> Brad has a
> render pump that will pump up to 60 square meters an hour at 20mm
> thick. He
> works with the owners and their volunteers to keep their costs down.
> It is
> often necessary to have two mixers to keep up with the machine, but
> at 1
> square meter per minute it is pretty quick.
> Regards
> Brian
> Anvill
> -----Original Message-----
> From: GSBN-bounces at greenbuilder.com
> [mailto:GSBN-bounces at greenbuilder.com]
> On Behalf Of cmagwood at kos.net
> Sent: Friday, 31 July 2009 8:40 PM
> To: private, with public archives) Global Straw Building Networ
> Subject: Re: [GSBN] prefab strawbale
> John,
> Most of the cost and time savings with the prefab panels we're doing
> come
> from eliminating the site plastering. The poured walls are done in a
> single coat, poured "sidewalk style", both sides of the panel at one
> time.
> There is no way even our best practiced spray crew could do two coats
> to
> two sides to a perfect finish in under an hour for an 8ftx8ft panel.
> Plus,
> the plaster can be applied in any weather and can cure away from sun,
> wind
> and gravity pulling things down the wall.
> After lots of experiments, we decided not to cast door and windows
> into
> the panels. Instead, we panelize the sections of the building between
> openings, and then frame in the openings once the panels are
> installed. In
> the case of the building we just did, those sections don't have any
> bale
> in them. Instead, we framed out storage bins/benches at the same
> width as
> the bale walls.
> We include a single stud at the edge of each panel, and the framed
> sections are attached to these studs. I can send you the plan details
> if
> you want. We typically don't meet shaky California criteria here in
> Ontario, but I'm sure the system can be adapted to suit.
> Chris
>> That's interesting info, Chris, particularly your construction costs.
>> Maybe
>> we should try something like that!
>> I'm not clear how, with a module that's pre-plastered, you tie
>> modules together and make them weather-tight as well as structurally
>> sound (don't forget, our ground shakes violently now and then).
>> It seems that your 'poured' walls are simple and easy for unskilled
>> builders.   What would be the difference if you installed pre-fab
>> walls w/o
>> plaster, and a professional crew did the plastering as normally done?
>> John "Beyond Fab" Swearingen
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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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