[GSBN] Big News!!
mfhammer at pacbell.net
Mon Aug 23 00:32:43 CDT 2010
Lars Keller asked the below question so I thought I would answer to all in
case others are interested. I¹ll set a deadline of September 30th for
anyone wanting to comment on the strawbale code as in the second draft of
On 8/22/10 9:36 PM, "Lars Keller" <larskeller at gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Martin,
> What is the deadline for comments to you ?
> Best regards,
> Lars Keller
> On 22 August 2010 03:36, martin hammer <mfhammer at pacbell.net> wrote:
>> Hello friends on the GSBN,
>> My voice has been conspicuously absent on this subject, so I thought I would
>> weigh in.
>> First, thanks for the words of appreciation. I was pleasantly surprised to
>> hear the news from David on Monday. I think this strawbale code document is
>> very good, but there are a number of reasons I didn¹t think it would go
>> through to the next step. I thought both the Earthen Materials proposal
>> (referencing the recently revised ASTM standard that Bruce, David in earlier
>> years, and others worked so hard on) and the Straw-Clay proposal I
>> co-authored with Paula Baker-Laporte, had better chances. I might propose
>> them again in the upcoming Code Change Proposal phase (once IGCC committee
>> concerns are addressed).
>> Much blood, sweat, and a few tears have gone into this SB code since 2003,
>> when I began writing it at the request of the State of California (they asked
>> Bruce, Bruce asked me . . .). I¹ve had very good input from others along the
>> way, including members of this list (David Eisenberg, Bruce King, Dan Smith,
>> Bob Theis, Tim Kennedy, John Swearingen, Bill Steen, Kelly Lerner) (apology
>> if I¹ve missed anyone), and others not on this list, notably civil
>> engineering professor Mark Aschheim.
>> Because it started as a California code, and because there are great SB
>> experts in northern CA where I live, the code might be a bit
>> California-centric (with particular attention to seismic issues). However
>> I¹ve always wanted it to be broadly applicable and I welcome broader, global
>> input at this time. I expect to propose adjustments during the next IGCC
>> review phase. If it remains in the IGCC and goes the way codes often do,
>> some version of this might show up at your building official¹s door and then
>> your strawbale door in Australia, South Africa, or who knows where. And
>> although I think there¹s much to like, I can almost guarantee you can find
>> something you don¹t like. So . . .
>> If you want to see and comment on the proposed code you can ask me to e-mail
>> the proposed SB code (by itself) to you as a word document, and then e-mail
>> me your comments or send it back with ³track changes². OR you can go to:
>> http://www.iccsafe.org/CS/IGCC/Pages/Comments0810.aspx , and download all
>> Public Comments under the ³Complete Document² subheading (Strawbale
>> Construction is Comment #5-136). You can then e-mail your comments to me
>> (not to ICC). I¹m also open to comments on #5-134 Straw-Clay, and #5-135
>> Earthen Materials. If you want to understand the IGCC process and schedule,
>> you can go to:
>> In addition, I want to clarify that:
>> * Strawbale is not yet in the IGCC. That¹s because it isn¹t finalized (and
>> SB could even be entirely removed).
>> * Even if included in the final version, the IGCC applies only to commercial
>> and high-rise residential, AND only in jurisdictions that adopt the IGCC. So
>> it would have limited application.
>> That said, this approval is still a very good thing. And if it does make it
>> to the finish line of the IGCC, it would probably then migrate to the IBC in
>> the next code cycle, and then to a jurisdiction near you. I even see the
>> possibility of jurisdictions adopting it or informally using it for all
>> occupancies, even before reaching the IBC. John Swearingen¹s report of it
>> already producing ³instant results² for his project in Stanislaus County
>> supports that notion, and is both welcome and frightening.
>> Finally, I want to acknowledge David Eisenberg and Matts Myhrman who together
>> forged the first SB code in Arizona in the early-mid 1990¹s, and to David
>> again for speaking so convincingly on behalf of the current proposed code at
>> the recent hearing in Chicago. If you read his description of what he said,
>> you¹ll see that he simply told the compelling truth about the most relevant
>> issues. It¹s one of many things David does so well. It¹s nice when the
>> compelling truth prevails (at least for now).
>> Thanks David, and thanks to all. And thanks to the enduring spirit of
>> PS - For a pre-IGCC history of this SB code, see my GSBN post on Dec. 1,
>> 2009. Reviewing that e-mail might also be used as a natural aid to help you
>> fall asleep. However, for me it is a riveting drama (sometimes moving at the
>> pace of a melting glacier . . . actually that¹s happening quite quickly these
>> On 8/16/10 10:13 PM, "strawnet at aol.com" <strawnet at aol.com> wrote:
>>> Hello all,
>>> I want share some great news. Earlier today, here in Chicago, Martin
>>> Hammer's "comment"/proposal to include the strawbale code he¹s been working
>>> on over the past few years in California into the new International Green
>>> Construction Code (IgCC) was approved by a committee vote of 8 to 6! The
>>> IgCC is the new US code for commercial (and high-rise residential) buildings
>>> that will become part of the family of 2012 International Codes (I-codes).
>>> It will go through a full code development cycIe with the rest of the 2012
>>> I-codes next year and there is work that will need to be done still to make
>>> sure it doesn¹t get rejected in that process, but getting it into the second
>>> public draft of the code now is a very big step forward.
>>> I served on the drafting committee for this code from last summer through
>>> the spring of this year. For more information about the IgCC and to download
>>> the whole IgCC first public draft and the comments including Martin¹s
>>> proposals for strawbale and earthen building and the EcoNest comment in
>>> support of straw clay go here:
>>> You¹ll find these listed as comments 5-134, 5-135 and 5-136.
>>> I was the only proponent speaking in favor of it here, and there were others
>>> who spoke in opposition. The initial motion was to disapprove but it failed
>>> 5 votes to 9 after considerable and very mixed discussion which surprised
>>> me because of the nature of some of the comments that it was still not
>>> ready and needed some technical fixes.
>>> The failure of the motion to disapprove required a new motion and Chris
>>> Mathis, an old building science friend from North Carolina, offered a motion
>>> for approval. That was followed by more discussion, with more concerns
>>> expressed that it wasn't ready. Then, just before the second vote, Chris
>>> pressed the committee to push the envelope. He said they should approve it
>>> and get it in, and rather than just having the few people who are very
>>> knowledgeable about it work on improving the things that still need to be
>>> done, ³Let thousands of people look at it and help improve it through the
>>> next round of the code development process!² He said it was time to start
>>> pushing these things through. Then they voted - and it passed 8 to 6! I was
>>> amazed and delighted! So it is going into the second public draft!
>>> There were two other similar proposals (they¹re called ³comments²) that were
>>> heard right before the strawbale comment. The first, from Paula Baker Laport
>>> and Robert Laport proposed including the straw clay guidelines from New
>>> Mexico. Next was the other submitted by Martin, that one in support of
>>> earthen construction based on the new ASTM standard for earthen wall systems
>>> that I had initiated almost 10 years ago and Bruce King has spearheaded over
>>> the past few years. I spoke in support of both, but they were disapproved,
>>> though both received encouraging suggestions to bring them forward again
>>> after addressing non-mandatory/permissive language and other issues.
>>> Because they were heard one after the other, and I was the only proponent
>>> for them, I got to speak first for each one and so I had a total of 6
>>> minutes (2 minutes each) to frame them all in terms of the big issues I¹ve
>>> been speaking to for all these years, including the coming challenges of
>>> ever-more limited and expensive energy, the low-impact, low-tech, climate
>>> beneficial, local/regional benefits, the industrial/proprietary bias and
>>> difficulty in funding research, testing and development for public domain,
>>> non-proprietary materials and systems. I started off by talking about the
>>> fact that I had been in buildings in Europe built with materials like straw
>>> clay and earth that are twice as old as this country! And to say that these
>>> are durable and safe ways of building when done properly. And when talking
>>> about the ASTM earthen standard, I said that if they looked at it they might
>>> think that it was too low tech to be reasonable compared to the standards
>>> that they¹re used to for concrete and other industrial materials. But, I
>>> said, It was intentionally low tech. That I was involved in initiating that
>>> standard almost ten years ago and it was both to enable the use of those
>>> materials here and to reverse the outlawing of earthen building in
>>> developing countries through the adoption of modern industrial codes. That
>>> it was designed to enable people to build safe, durable, healthy, and
>>> affordable buildings anywhere in the worldincluding the in United States. I
>>> mentioned that the committee that developed that standard included the
>>> leading experts on earthen building and engineering from around the world
>>> and was based on reviewing and incorporating the best from international
>>> codes and standards for earthen building.
>>> After the first two went down, I was quite convinced because of the comments
>>> that the sb proposal would share the same fate and, thankfully, I was wrong!
>>> So hats off to Martin, Bruce, Matts, and many others who have worked so long
>>> and hard to develop these codes and to Chris Mathis for his leadership and
>>> visionary action on the committee.
>>> David Eisenberg
>>> GSBN mailing list
>>> GSBN at greenbuilder.com
>> GSBN mailing list
>> GSBN at greenbuilder.com
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