[Strawbale] certification of straw bales

asbn asbn at baubiologie.at
Tue Mar 5 13:31:44 CET 2013

Dear Caroline

Wow, what a detailed answer, thank you, great.

Just a few remarks: There are tests for fire safety (90 min in e.g.  
Austria, Germany, Hungary) and insulation performance for bales on  
edge (e.g. 0,05 - Austria, 0,052 - Germany)
and bales laid flat (between 0,065 [FASBA] to 0,082 [Denmark]). The  
tests are available through national network-sites (as ours).

Concerning a database: FASBA and ASBN (and other countries as well)  
have gathered (mostly European) tests, studies,... in a huge database.
I will talk to FASBA (Sissy Hein, Burkard Rüger and Dittmar Hecken) to  
make it available to all.

Concerning prefabrication: this is what we thought when Waldland,  
Kreativer Holzbau and Bauatelier Schmelz did the European Technical  
Approval for building straw bales (ETA),
because we needed it for a new modular system insulated with straw  
bales (system/haus/bau), but this was intended to be just one option  
for professionals.
But in fact two years after the approval (which means that certified  
straw bales are in the official building code now in Austria)
building officials forbid in situ construction or even in situ infill  
with uncertified straw bales (and other uncertified building  
materials) as well..
The argument of the building officials was always: someone has to take  
resonsibility, and this can never be a self-builder (because he/she is  
not skilled enough).
But even, when a carpenter is willing to take this responsibility,  
building officials start to forbid uncertified materials as well,
with the argument of the EuroCode (and under the influence of mighty  
lobbies as well, I guess).

best wishes
asbn - austrian strawbale network
3720 Ravelsbach, Baierdorf 6
Tel. 02958-83640
asbn at baubiologie.at

Am 05.03.2013 um 12:58 schrieb Caroline Meyer White:

> Dear All,
> In Denmark, as I believe - and hear from your answers - in most  
> other European countries, we have a "performance building code"  
> Which means, if you can document that what you are doing, will  
> PERFORM as the regulation requires, there are no specific way that  
> you have to follow - no specific materials you have to use. A few  
> test programs run i 2004 at acknogledged institutions, where straw  
> walls were tested for fire - only a 30 minute test, insulation  
> properties and mould growth, lead to a small publication with some  
> guidelines on how to do a "safe" SB wall, has opened all doors since.
> Regarding fire in Poland and certification, I wonder, if it is a  
> certified BALE you need, or a fire test of a wall assembly? The bale  
> in it self is obviously not giving fire resistance, but the section  
> with render is. Here in Denmark, 30 mm of clay or lime render, gives  
> you a 30 min fire - accept, only because that was the only test the  
> SB organisation could afford at the national institute for fire  
> testing. That can give us similar complications on larger/public  
> buildings were higher degrees of fire safety is required., as the  
> Polish face.
> And then how is it..
> We all follow the same engineering codes (EuroCode), but we have  
> national building codes (regulations). If a fire test of 60 or 90  
> minutes was carried out in one European country or in a  
> collaboration between several countries, would it not benefit all  
> European countries? And if it has been carried out already - I do  
> not know if it has any where in Europe, only in the US, couldn't we  
> all use that?
> And if yes to the above: Would we not really benefit from having a  
> database of all official documented tests carried out in Europe?
> At the Danish national building research institute, they are open to  
> use all tests out there Danish, European or not, in a complete  
> publication on SB, IF they undertake to do such a thing ... in a few  
> years..
> As I understand the rules, if you want to pre-fabricate a whole wall  
> system - THEN you may face that your specific system has to be CE- 
> certified, and that may include the bales in it and not only the  
> assembly. But in situ construction does not require certification of  
> each material. BUT yes indeed, I can face the same problem with  
> carpenters and contractors, who are not always willing to take the  
> responsibility of using non-certified materials, and that can be  
> straw bales as well as under roofing etc. - But that is not because  
> of an official requirement, that is because they end up with a  
> responisbility that some feel insecure about. - And thus I only work  
> with those who have the common sense to see that this works if they  
> do it well.
> I agree Herbert, it is very important to go down the road as the  
> French, rather then going for a certified bale - VERY IMPORTANT :))
> Cheers
> Caroline
> 2013/3/5 asbn <asbn at baubiologie.at>
> Hi to all balers outside
> A great THANK YOU for your answers, it helps a lot!
> As I thought (and feared), the certification in a country
> * gives safety to carpenters (if they use these certified bales) and  
> helps them with their responsibility.
> * but seems to start a parallel process, that uncertified bales will  
> be forbidden with the argument,
>    that there are certified bales available on the market (even when  
> they are not available).
> In Austria we have a situation now, where only skilled builders (and  
> that means with a special education and qualification)
> are allowed to take responsibility for a building, and even if I  
> want my own responsibility,
> I cannot take it as a self-builder without these special  
> qualifications, even for a small experimental building.
> This situation stops innovation, as only prooven and tested  
> techniques (and materials) are allowed.
> I agree, that this supports "industry" and bigger companies, which  
> are able to afford tests and certification processes.
> And in long terms it stops all self-builders from building on the  
> basis of experience, long known knowledge and tradition.
> I personally think therefore, that establishing a national building  
> code - like in France - is the much better way as a certification  
> process.
> Although I know, that it is much more work and needs much more  
> effort than a (simple) test and quality management.
> And my personal recommendation: If you think about a certification  
> in your country, nevertheless (which is not my first choice),
> do it like FASBA in Germany or (with restriction) the GrAT in  
> Austria do,
> try to find a non-profit organisation, which makes a mobile  
> certification on bales of your choice, independently from the season  
> of the year,
> otherwise you always depend on the amounts of certified straw bales,  
> a company has stored.
> yours sincerely
> Herbert
> -----------------
> asbn - austrian strawbale network
> 3720 Ravelsbach, Baierdorf 6
> Tel. 02958-83640
> asbn at baubiologie.at
> www.baubiologie.at
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> -- 
> Caroline, Tahir, Noah
> Friland 11, 8410 Rønde, Denmark, tlf. (+45) 40 76 19 80, skypename:  
> caroline.meyer.white

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