[Strawbale] Re: Straw Bale research

Coralie & Andre de Bouter m.ep at laposte...
Mon Jun 24 09:47:59 CEST 2002

Dear Zak Lee and other Balehearts,

Here is the list of testing reports that Mark Piepkorn put together plus
what I received from
other people. additional info might be found in the magazine The Last Straw

If any of you see that a test is missing, please inform me, I want to keep
this list complete and up to date.

Greetings to you all,

Setting the Standards for Straw Bale Construction
1998, by Nehemiah Stone and Tav Commins
Contact Nehemiah at StoneAndStraw at earthlink....
A summary of R-Value testing, including the most recent guarded hot box
tests on which the California Energy Commission based its nominal R-value
for SB. [Note: there is another paper based on the same testing but
presenting an
analysis of the potential energy savings from switching even a small
percentage of
new construction TO straw bales in those areas of California relatively
close to
where bales are produced. It was presented at ACEEE's Summer Study for
Efficient Buildings in 1998 and is a part of the proceedings ]

A Straw Bales/Mortar House Demonstration Project
1986, by Louis Gagne
Available from CMHC http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/
There are French translations of these summaries as well. You can browse for
them under,
using the same reference numbers:
Contains, among other things, results of a thermal-flow test that most
rational people seem to feel is flawed or jimmied. I'm not necessarily
rational, but I am skeptical of the report.

Developing and Proof-Testing the "Prestressed Nebraska" Method for Improved
Production of Bale Fibre Housing
1995, by Fibrehouse Limited with Scanada Consultants Limited
Available from CMHC http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/
Some data from tests performed on the specific technique given in the title.

Setting the Standards for Straw Bale Construction
1998, by ?
Contact somebody from CASBA.
A summary of R-Value testing, including the most recent guarded hot box
tests on which the California Energy Commission based its nominal R-value
for SB.

Straw Bale Construction Research Project at Portland Community College
Ongoing, by PCC Engineering Technology Students and Volunteers
Contact Joanna Karl, jkarl at pcc...
Datalogging moisture levels in the walls.

Evaluation of a Straw Bale Composite Wall
1998, Bale Built Inc
Contact Joe Allen, 208-799-1285
Lots of info on a specific technique that uses a lot of steel, the likes of
which I don't think has a lot to recommend it.

Transverse Load Test and Small Scale E-119 Fire Test on Uncoated Straw Bale
Wall Panels and Stucco Coated Straw Bale Wall Panels
1993, by SHB Agra, Inc
Contact Catherine Wanek to purchase copies

Straw Bale Exterior Pinning Report
Undated, by Sustainability International
Contact Bob Bolles to purchase copies - bbolles at cts...
Engineering results on a rebar-exterior-pinning system which gained
approval from the Tucson/Pima County building department.

Fire Comparison Test of Straw-use Wall Systems
1997, by Birkani Architects
Contact Erem Birkan to purchase copies - www.baleblock.com
Not-particularly-scientific results of a planned fire involving a number of
different wall systems.

Summary of Results of a Structural Straw Bale Testing Program Based on a
Master's Thesis by Ghailene Bou-Ali
1993, by David Eisenberg with Matts Myrhman and Judy Knox
I think Catherine Wanek might sell these, or David Eisenberg
The info on which was based the first SB code in the USA.

The Thermal Insulating Value of Straw Bales for Construction
1993, by Joseph McCabe
Contact Joe to purchase copies - energyi at mccabe...
His master's thesis.

Pilot Study of Moisture Control in Stuccoed Straw Bale Walls
1997, by Fibrehouse Limited
Available from CMHC http://www.cmhc-schl
A field examination of a number of aging Canadian strawbale structures.

Strawbale Moisture Monitoring Report
1998, by Rob Jolly
Available from CMHC http://www.cmhc-schl
or http://www.baubiologie.at/asbn/literatur.html
Good stuff that needs critical consideration by the reader.

Moisture in Straw Bale Housing, Nova Scotia
1998, by S.H.E. Consultants
Possibly available from CMHC http://www.cmhc-schl
Moisture monitoring of Kim Thompson's pioneering SB house.

Straw Bale Moisture Sensor Study
undated, by unknown (perhaps Don Fugler himself, or Habib John Gonzalez)
Possibly available from CMHC http://www.cmhc-schl
Describes simple, low-cost moisture sensors for SB walls.

Straw Bale Wall Hot Box Tests Results and Analysis
undated, by Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Contact ORNL http://www.ornl.gov
Astonishingly bad R-value results revealing, among other things, that
having air gaps between the plaster and bales can be mighty bad.

Bale Wall Compression Testing Program
Jeff Ruppert was in on this; I think it's the one he referenced

Thermal and Mechanical Properties of Straw Bales as the Relate to a Straw
1995, by TUNS
I think this is one that Catherine Wanek sells

Also see the TLS#31, the 2000 Resources issue, page 31 for additional
listings. (Don't even bother with looking in TLS#35, 'cause it ain't there.
"Updated and expanded" my ass.)
Herbert Gruber (Austria):

Our project, financed by the Austrian Ministry for Traffic, Technology and
Innovation and in cooperation with GrAT (Group for Appropriate Technology at
the University of Technology in Vienna) is finished:
So the tests we made are available soon in original (I will tell you as far
as you can get the original tests).

Concerning a full scale fire test for a straw bale building it was
interesting for me to visit the
report and video-presentation of Dr. Vahik Enjily from the Centre for Timber
and Construction, Building Research Establishment, UK (BRE: www.bre.co.uk)
in Vienna.
BRE built a six story timber and frame building in a hangar and made a lot
of (full-scale-)fire
tests under regular circumstances. The results are gathered in a study and
are very interesting,
I think.
Now I believe (even when you build loadbearing) fire performance of
strawbale houses is
similar to timber & frame constructions because of the similar material
(cellulose). Even our
strawbale-wall-firetest (90 min. fire resistance for a plastered strawbale
wall) showed results
that are similar to other (insulated) timber and frame construction-fire
tests, we know of. If
you are interested, I could send you a copy of the study of BRE, or you wait
´til it is
published online.
Hannes Hohensinner (Austria)
As offical tests and certificates are very important to convince officals
and reduce prejudices
we are planning to collect all available tests and certificates and put
them on our homepage (www.grat.tuwien.ac.at) to make them available for all
straw bale
builders. Although at the moment the website is restructured and will be in
net by end of this year, this e-mail is an invitation to all straw balers,
who have already done
offical (and also inofficial) testing, to support our intentions and
send us informations about the tests and/or offical certificates.
John Glasford (Australia)
Authors:        John Carrick BE. M Eng Sci.
                Laboratory Manager
                Building Research Centre
                University of New South Wales
                22-32 King Street
                RANDWICK N.S.W. 2052        AUSTRALIA

                John Glassford S.D.A. Edin. (Hons)
                Managing Director
                Huff'n'Puff Constructions
                'The Laurels'
                Moss Vale Road
                KANGAROO VALLEY N.S.W. 2577        AUSTRALIA

Mike Faine:
strawbale load test
These results were presented at the First International Ecological Building
Structures Conference held in San Francisco last July (2001)
Hope this may be of some interest to you, I will be doing some futher
research using an earth based render instead of a cement based render
Mike Faine" <>mikefaine at bigpond...>
John Straube(Canada) :
The vapor permeance and water absorption of a range of cement and lime
stuccos for SB are summarized in a Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp report
you can get from them or download from my nascent website at

under on-line publications
John Straube
Dept of Civil Engineering and School of Architecture
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1 CANADA
Jolien van der Made(Holland):
Canadian Society of  Agricultural Engineering:
Thermal and Mechanical Porperties of Straw Bales as they Relate
to a Strw House; biological deterioration, insulating properties en strenght
Jolien <>jostro at dds...>
Bruce King:
The Ecomaterials paper, though in English, summarizes testting to date
(Bruce sent me this
about a year ago)
Catherine Wanek:
I wonder if you have the New Mexico fire test results, of a successful
2-hour SB test to
ASTM standards... I could fax you the 5 or 7 pages if you need them right

Also, a relatively new SB "Flame spread and Smoked developed fire test" was
done last year
and the results are very good. These have just been posted to the DCAT
Center for Appropriate Technology) website at: www.dcat.net so you can
download them if
Lars Keller (Denmark)

More information about the Strawbale mailing list