[GSBN] a new nomination / some new SB research

Jim Carfrae jim.carfrae at plymouth.ac.uk
Mon Aug 25 02:27:42 CDT 2014

Hello All, and Enga

I would support Ebga as a member, as there is still useful research to be done.
My own PhD was on the moisture performance of straw bale construction, but the focus was on the effects of building in a temperate maritime climate. I have also spent the last year monitoring effects of the construction phase on the moisture in straw – this is an area which I think would merit further study, I was surprised how much moisture was introduced by the plastering of the walls.
Any setup that can replicate and compare different forms of straw wall construction with controlled changes in environmental conditions would be a researcher's dream!



Dr Jim Carfrae
Environmental Building Group
Room 302 Roland Levinsky Building
School of Architecture, Design and the Environment
Plymouth University
Drake Circus PL4 8AA

From: Bruce EBNet <bruce at ecobuildnetwork.org<mailto:bruce at ecobuildnetwork.org>>
Reply-To: Global Straw Building Network <GSBN at sustainablesources.com<mailto:GSBN at sustainablesources.com>>
Date: Sunday, 24 August 2014 19:46
To: Global Straw GSBN <GSBN at sustainablesources.com<mailto:GSBN at sustainablesources.com>>
Cc: Enga Lokey <enga at thelokeys.net<mailto:enga at thelokeys.net>>
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<mailto:enga at thelokeys.net>>
Subject: GSBN
Date: August 23, 2014 at 5:01:06 PM PDT
To: Bruce King <bruce at bruce-king.com<mailto: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 Victoria.

Thanks again for your consideration!


Enga Lokey
10 Lake Rd
PO Box 917
Natimuk 3409
0468 359 556

enga at thelokeys.net<mailto:enga at thelokeys.net>

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