[GSBN] research into air quality in straw bale house

Derek Stearns Roff derek at unm.edu
Wed Dec 3 08:40:35 CST 2014

Hi, Kuba.  I hope you are successful in finding information and documentation on this question, which is an important one.  Two sub-topics that interest me are 1) how much effect does having a good air barrier (tight house) have on mold spores getting into the living space from the straw, and 2) is designing the air barrier at/near the inside plane of the wall a positive choice, when contrasted with locating the air barrier toward the outside of the wall.

Best wishes,

On Dec 3, 2014, at 7:11 AM, Jakub Wihan <kuba at jakubwihan.com<mailto:kuba at jakubwihan.com>> wrote:

Hi All,

I am doing a research about air quality inside straw bale buildings. I am particularly interested in how a "usual" kind of mold in baled straw inside a plastered wall affects air quality within indoor environment and how healthy that environment is. I would like to know if there is any scientific paper written on this subject.

I hope you will not mind me asking to give me some further links, or pointers. In any case, I would be grateful to hear your opinion.

I have contacted Stephen Collette> http://www.yourhealthyhouse.ca/  to give his expertise. I thought it might be useful for all of us to hear. Please see excerpt from his e-mail below.

Thank you.

Have a peaceful Advent time full of warmth and happiness.

With warm wishes


On 3 Nov 2014, at 16:26, Stephen Collette wrote:

As for your questions Jakub:

I do not have any specific research, university type, looking at the moulds in straw bale homes. I have come across some in my professional practice. (To summarize, I used to build, worked on 2 dozen straw bale buildings. Now I am a consultant, building science geek and know a fair bit about natural building sciences, teaching it through the Building Biology Institute in the US.)


As for how it impacts the air quality within a house, I would say it is negligible, under normal conditions. Fibreglass, unfortunately common in North America can hold crap loads of mould and water, and that type of wall system is quite "loose" compared to a plastered wall, which are not so common here. Plastered walls reduce air leakage, and therefore pathways of concern. Also the walls are so dense, to slow air movement in and of themselves, irrespective of the plaster.

All the best.



Stephen Collette BBEC, LEED AP, BSSO
Your Healthy House - Indoor Environmental Testing & Building Consulting
stephen at yourhealthyhouse.ca<mailto:stephen at yourhealthyhouse.ca>

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Derek Roff
derek at unm.edu<mailto:derek at unm.edu>

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