International Straw Bale Conference in Colorado, September 2012

Did you know that the early registration deadline for the 2012 International Straw Builders’ Conference is only a few days away! The conference itself runs from Sept 16-22, 2012.

It’s not too late for EARLY registration for the 2012 International Straw Bale Building Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. EARLY registration ends July 16th July 31st so get hopping and sign up!

If you have never attended an International Conference you are missing a great opportunity to meet some of the professionals from around the world and to experience an event which will boost your energy and confidence in building with Straw.

And if you have never been to Estes Park, I’m told it is one of the world’s most scenic venues – adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, the mountains and wildlife are to die for. The YMCA conference site is excellent, and the facilities food and accomodations are super according to friends who have been there.

By the way, a conference like this is NOT just about straw. It’s about plasters, earthen floors, building for cold (or hot) climates, compressed earth blocks and more.

SO – get busy and register today!

I’ll see you there!

–Bill Christensen
Founder, Sustainable Sources

Straw Bale in International Building Code?

For a long time, straw bale builders have wanted to legitimize their favorite construction method by getting building codes passed specifically allowing plastered straw bale construction.   A lot of headway has been made, starting with the Pima County code for load-bearing straw bale construction back in the 90s, followed by a fair number of local and even some state (California) straw bale building codes.

But it takes a lot of work to get something like straw bale construction passed in each jurisdiction, and it seems that nearly each new construction project has to reinvent the wheel, educate the local code officials, etc.

To remedy this problem, a group of dedicated baleheads have been working over the past several years to get straw bale construction accepted into the Big Daddy of all codes, the International Building Code (IBC).

International Code Council will hold hearings in Dallas on either Monday, April 30 or Tuesday, May 1 regarding the Fire Resistance of straw bale construction, and a week later on structural considerations.  These hearings are just part of the many important steps needed.

Sustainable Sources founder Bill Christensen will be joining longtime code advocate David Eisenberg (Development Center for Appropriate Technology), builder/architect Ben Obregon (Sustainable Design Center), and architect Gayle Borst (Stewardship Architecture and Design~Build~Live) in Dallas for the Fire Resistance section of the hearings.  Bill, David, and Ben participated in the 2006 fire tests which gained plastered straw bale construction ASTM 1- and 2-hour burn ratings (earthen plastered and cement plastered, respectively).  See the video.

The hearings are free and open to the public, though you are required to register.  They’re also being streamed, in the event you can’t make it but are interested in the proceedings.

To see all the supporting documentation including the proposed Straw Bale Construction chapter, and testing reports regarding moisture, structural, seismic “shake table”, fire, and of course thermal tests, see EcoBuildNetwork.

David and architect Martin Hammer will return the following week for Structural hearings.

To learn about building with straw, see our straw bale construction overview, or see one of the many books on bale construction, or visit The Last Straw Journal, the definitive quarterly journal on bale construction.

Finally, to see an actual straw bale home near you, check our Straw Bale Building Registry.

Green Real Estate ads – Major Upgrade!

As we enter our 19th year at Sustainable Sources, we’re happy to announce that we’ve completely revamped our long running Real Estate section.

  • Your listings can now have up to 20 images.
  • Easier to list property.
  • Easier to update.
  • It’s on a much faster server.
  • Improved searches.
  • Includes green sales AND green rentals.
  • New sections for commercial properties, too!  (For lease and for sale)
  • Ads from 30 days for $5.00 (that’s right, just $5.00!!) to a full year for $20.00.

Obviously, we’re not looking to get rich off of this – unlike the other sites which list green real estate and start at $19-$25 for a 30 day listing and over $200 for a one-year listing!  Electrons don’t cost that much.

The real estate market has changed a lot since we first started Green Real Estate listings in 1998 –  there is greater awareness of the need for energy efficiency and homes and offices built with healthy materials, and more people than ever are specifically looking for green.  Make sure they find you here!

View the current listings…

Sustainable Sources will go dark on Jan 18 to fight SOPA

On January 18 from 8am to 8pm, SustainableSources.com will join RedditBoing Boing and a growing number of other sites around the Internet in “going dark” to bring awareness of the need to loudly oppose SOPA and PIPA, the pending US legislation that creates a punishing Internet censorship regime and exports it to the rest of the world.

Let Congress know you OPPOSE H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and S. 968 “Protect IP Act” (PIPA):

Opponents of SOPA: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, AOL, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, Zynga, EFF, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX)

Supporters of SOPA: RIAA, MPAA, News Corporation, VISA, Mastercard, Pfizer, Comcast, Time Warner, ABC, Nike, Walmart, Dow Chemical, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Monster Cable, Teamsters, Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI)

Where does your Member of Congress stand on SOPA? (Project SOPA Opera)

SOPA and PIPA Are Too Dangerous To Revise, They Must Be Killed Entirely 

Congress needs to hear from you, or these dangerous bills will pass – they have tremendous lobbying dollars behind them, from large corporations reportedly hoping to prop up outdated, anti-consumer business models at the expense of the very fabric of the Internet — recklessly unleashing a tsunami of take-down notices and litigation, and a Pandora’s jar of “chilling effects” and other unintended (or perhaps intended?) consequences.

For example, Monster Cable considers craigslist a “rogue site” for takedown under PIPA – they want to prevent YOU from selling YOUR unwanted cables so they can increase sales! Many other “rights holders” want to do the same. Boycott anyone? There is an app for that.

Corporations pushing SOPA/PIPA want the ability to block you from reaching any web site they feel might be hurting their profits — without due process of any kind, or review in any court — by literally interrupting all Internet traffic to those sites via DNS at the ISPs and by censoring search engine results.  Incredibly, many lawmakers want to give them that right.

There is still time to be heard. Congress is starting to backpedal on this job-killing, anti-American nonsense, and the Obama administration has weighed in against these bills as drafted, but SOPA/PIPA cannot be fixed or revised — they must be killed altogether.

Sen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Rep Ron Wyden (D-OR) are championing an alternative to SOPA/PIPA called Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) that focuses on cutting off payments to foreign sites dedicated to piracy, and refrains from disrupting basic Internet protocols, or threatening mainstream US sites like craigslist.

Tim O’Reilly, a publisher who is himself subject to piracy, asks whether piracy is even a problem, and whether there is even a legitimate need for any of these bills.

Learn more about SOPA, Protect IP (PIPA), and Internet Blacklisting:

The Global Straw Building Network discussion forum (GSBN)

The Global Straw Building Network is a private discussion list with publicly available archives and the option for anyone to subscribe in non-post mode. It is composed of representatives of regional organizations and other non-affiliated key individuals involved in the general advancement of straw-bale and other straw-use building materials and techniques. The intentionally small number of members range from highly experienced professionals to well informed laypeople.

The ability to post to GSBN is by invitation only. Any posts sent to the GSBN address from email addresses which have not been approved to post are automatically discarded.

Other discussion forums about building with straw exist elsewhere for those who are new to the process and/or to building techniques in general. Please see http://strawbale.sustainablesources.com or https://sustainablesources.com/resources/online-discussions/ to join them.

Should you have further questions about the operation of GSBN, please contact the list maintainer/host at https://sustainablesources.com/about/contact-us/

To sign up for GSBN or to see the archves (since 1998), go to https://sustainablesources.com/mailman/listinfo.cgi/gsbn

Rare opportunity to visit Gaviotas village

The village of Gaviotas in the llanos of Colombia today announced a rare chance for outsiders to visit.

So far, few outsiders have managed to visit this special place. But public order has made a comeback in the region, and in 2010, two groups of 20 people each (including a 1-year old baby girl!) traveled all the way to Colombia’s eastern plains to visit this unique community. The visits were a success, and the village now wishes to invite another 20 people for a fully hosted day visit. In addition, Gaviotas founder Paolo Lugari is personally inviting you to spend a few additional days in conversation with him and other Gaviotans in and around the Gaviotas office in Bogotá.

During the 8-month rainy season the roads turn into mud and the Gaviotas landing strip is flooded – March is your chance to go before is starts pouring!

See FriendsOfGaviotas.org for full details.

For more info about Gaviotas, see reflections on our meeting with founder Paolo Lugari, and the book Gaviotas, A Village to Reinvent the World.

A Different Kind of HVAC Contractor – And the Book He Wrote

Trish Holder of GreenspirationHome.com Interviews Joe Gorman, Contractor and Author of From Contractor to Consumer

Joe Gorman From Contractor to Consumer

The book you’ve got to read (or at least skim) before choosing an HVAC contractor!

Not long ago I ran across a book on the internet entitled, “From Contractor to Consumer:  The Truth about Heating, Air Conditioning, and Home Comfort Systems”. HVAC nerd that I am, I had to investigate.  After all, this was pretty out of the ordinary for a HVAC contractor to write a book – much less one that is actually geared toward educating consumers.  Frankly, I think a lot of them would like to keep us stupid.  So, I asked Joe to send me a copy of his book and he did.  I was so impressed with this easy-to-read little book (and Joe’s initiative to write it) that I decided to interview this rare contractor who happens to agree with me that what a homeowner doesn’t know about their HVAC system really can hurt.

Read the rest…

“New Energy Star Standards for Dishwashers and Furnaces” is locked New Energy Star Standards for Dishwashers and Furnaces

From Environmental Building News, Vol. 20 No. 9

By Evan Dick

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced revisions to Energy Star requirements for residential dishwashers and furnaces.

Effective January 20, 2012, Energy Star dishwashers will be 8% more efficient than previous Energy Star models and 10%–30% more efficient than conventional models. Standard Energy Star dishwashers will consume no more than 4.25 gallons per cycle and 295 kWh per year, down from 5.8 gallons per cycle and 324 kWh per year for 2009–2011 Energy Star models.

For furnaces, the rules become effective February 1, 2012 and will be regional for the first time, mirroring the U.S. Department of Energy’s new minimum HVAC efficiency standards announced in July 2011 (see “New HVAC Standards Will Be Regional,” EBN July 2011).

Energy Star furnaces must now be 12% more efficient than the baseline in the South and 16% more efficient in the North. Energy Star furnaces in the South will have a special label that lists the states in which the certification is valid.

In addition to the introduction of its Most Efficient label (see “Energy Star to Label ‘Most Efficient’ Appliances,” EBN Aug. 2011), EPA has promised revisions to 20 Energy Star product requirements in 2011.
September 1, 2011

To keep up with the latest, see https://www.buildinggreen.com/product-guide/residential-dishwashers and https://www.buildinggreen.com/product-guide/furnaces .  Both are behind paywalls.

Consider Hybrid Geothermal Heat Pump

New research shows that installing a hybrid geothermal heat pump system can significantly reduce the cost of implementing geothermal heating and cooling. The hybrid system reduces the peak capacity of the ground loop, making a smaller, less expensive ground heat exchanger feasible.

The Energy Center of Wisconsin with assistance from the University of Wisconsin Solar Energy Laboratory collected annual operating data on three working hybrid system installations. The economic and environmental impact of the hybrid approach was to compared it to other HVAC system designs. This data was used to investigate what contributes to an effective hybrid design.

Using project results, the Energy Center developed tools for HVAC system designers to use to assess the benefits of hybrid geothermal on specific building projects. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Alliant Energy and Madison Gas and Electric. Download the final report at www.ecw.org/hybrid.