[GSBN] a new nomination / some new SB research

Andy Horn andy at ecodesignarchitects.co.za
Sun Aug 24 18:54:09 CDT 2014

In the interest of furthering research I would support the nomination.


However, can I suggest that with her research test building she has at very
least 2 rooms built side by side so that the results will also compare
different types of plaster coatings that are used in bale construction,
subjected to the same conditions comparing and how they react differently to


>From my understanding there seem to be generically 2 main kinds of main
approaches to plastering.

1)    "stucco" type plasters ....which typically combine often half lime and
half cement as the binder in the mix ...and typically the use of some kind
of a metal mesh reinforcing.


2)    fibre reinforced earth based plasters ...often but not always finished
with some kind of lime based plaster ....i.e. no cement


Each of these types of plasters are typically finished in various kinds of
breathable coating but not always.....context, climate and local resources,
skills etc all playing such a big part in these decisions.


There are obviously numerous variants within each of these approaches ....so
2 rooms will probably still not be anywhere enough to really understand
things  .....but think that if there is only one type of plaster used, the
results of the study will remain very specific to the type of plaster used
with the experimental building....whereas getting a better understanding of
how different approaches to plasters and finishes used affect the moisture
within a wall would be of far greater value. 


Other variables come to mind such as comparing sun facing and non sun facing
walls, windward and non wind facing, length of overhang, type of roof shape
etc etc.....so how one sorts through all the variables to get to any useful
generic data is what I think will be a particular challenge with this kind
of research. It would thus be critical to carefully define the parameters of
the particular variable of such an experiment


Best regards,

Andy Horn


Eco Design - Architects & Consultants

1st floor 79 Roeland St. Cape Town, 8001, South Africa 




From: GSBN-bounces at sustainablesources.com
[mailto:GSBN-bounces at sustainablesources.com] On Behalf Of Bruce EBNet
Sent: 24 August 2014 08:47 PM
To: Global Straw GSBN
Cc: Enga Lokey
Subject: [GSBN] a new nomination / some new SB research



Baleheads of the world -


I was contacted by Enga Lokey of USA/Australia, who wishes to write a PhD
thesis on straw bale that will be of some use, maybe fill in gaps in our
knowledge.  I suggested that a summary review of all the moisture studies to
date would be great, but wonder if any of you have other burning questions
that need further research.  I also suggested she get to know all the
Ausbale folks, and hope that can happen somehow.


Below I have forwarded Enga's own description of her aspirations, and brief
bio.  I hope and suspect that at least a few of you will offer suggestions,
and want to here nominate her to membership so she can freely communicate
with the group.


This constitutes a departure from our somewhat fuzzy criteria to date for
membership.  But GSBN traffic is so light, and quality so high, that it
seems fitting to bring her on so as to best support research.  If anyone
strongly disagrees, please let me/us know.  I'm not sure if anyone else
knows her, so a second may be hard to find.


Any thoughts?




Bruce King

(415) 987-7271


Skype: brucekingokok

Twitter: @brucekinggreen 




Begin forwarded message:

From: Enga Lokey <enga at thelokeys.net>

Subject: GSBN

Date: August 23, 2014 at 5:01:06 PM PDT

To: Bruce King <bruce at bruce-king.com>


Dear Bruce,


Thank you for suggesting I should get involved with GSBN. I appreciate your
recommendation and hope that I can make a positive contribution to the group
and strawbale building more generally.


As we discussed, I will be commencing a PhD program through RMIT's (Royal
Melbourne Institute of Technology) Architecture and Design School next
March. A general idea for my research has been formulated with the
consultation of my supervisor, but this is very open to revision as I begin
a more thorough literature review and try to determine where the greatest
gap in knowledge and prior study truly resides. I have no interest in just
cranking out something to please the academia and get a few letters after my
name. I would really like to do something that can add to the practical
knowledge base of strawbale building specifically and environmentally
thoughtful building more generally.  Then....... I will end world hunger and
bring peace to all.


At this point, the plan is to incorporate moisture/temperature monitors at
varying heights and locations within the strawbale walls and crawl space of
a small residential structure that will be baled and plastered in March. The
most basic information that will be gained is the temperature and moisture
movement in relation to internal and external conditions. This may also be
manipulated at times by creating an excessively humid condition internally
to determine a 'worst case' scenario. Also, and of great interest to me, is
to look at how these variables do or don't change over time. For instance,
should one expect a 10 (20,30, etc)  year old strawbale house to perform
comparably to a new one. Being able to monitor the drying regime as the home
is plastered may also be of interest. 


Additionally, I will question the prevailing movement in Australia to build
all homes on slabs. Can far less cement be used and achieve an equally
energy efficient home with a well-insulated, raised timber floor? Inspired
by some of the research that has been done in the US, the crawl space of
this home will have the potential to be vented or sealed and monitored in
each situation. 


So those are the areas I had planned to focus on as I begin a complete
literature review and narrow my scope. I would love to hear from those of
you that have been working in the area for many years as to where you see
the knowledge gaps. What do we need to know with more certainty and accuracy
to advance straw bale building?


On a more personal note and as an introduction of myself to the group, I am
presently in the US working in the Grand Canyon guiding 15-day whitewater
raft trips on the Colorado River. I have been doing this during the Austal
winter for the last 10 years, and doing various Outdoor Education, rigging,
and building work in Australia during our Summer. I have a B.S. and M.S. in
Exercise Physiology from 20-years ago and a Graduate Diploma in Energy and
Environment earned last year. I live in a town of 450 folks in rural western


Thanks again for your consideration!








Enga Lokey

10 Lake Rd

PO Box 917

Natimuk 3409


0468 359 556


enga at thelokeys.net

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