Mike & I were deeply honored to receive the coveted “Traveling Straw Dog Award for advancing straw building while having fun doing it” at this year’s CA Straw Building Association conference. We couldn’t have done many of the things we’ve been able to do without the knowledge and support provided by CASBA: thank you!
Here is the article about straw bale building that I wrote for Home Power Magazine. Once the viewer loads, click the full-screen icon (the four-cornered box) and zoom in to read. Enjoy! – Rebecca
Here’s a fun animation of a 120 square foot tiny hybrid straw bale and straw-clay building that we’ve designed. We’re planning to build this one in northern San Diego County in 2017 and will have a number of workshops during the construction. We’re still working out the details but, if you are interested and would like to know more, make sure you are on our email list (scroll to the bottom of this page)!
After a bit of fiddling, we have most of the energy monitoring equipment working and the data looks good. What this graph shows is 3 days and 3 nights of electricity generation and usage (midnight on Oct 15 to midnight Oct 18).
When it’s dark outside, about 5pm to 7am, the data above the centerline shows the energy being used, drawn from the electrical grid. When the sun is up, about 7am to 5pm, the data below the centerline shows the net generation (the electricity generated minus the electricity used) of the 4.1 kWh PV system during the day.
This quick glimpse shows we are generating more than TWICE the electricity that we draw from the grid and these were unusually cloudy days in Campo! Once we get the rest of the equipment online, we’ll be able to tell which circuits use the most electricity and we’ll post more data then. The ultimate goal is to have all of this data available online in real time.
If you are one of the many who donated to our fundraising campaign, thanks again for your part in making this monitoring possible!
“Deer Park Monastery- Nun’s Residence
The form—based on a traditional Spanish Hacienda embracing a central courtyard with plantings—encourages togetherness and provides opportunities for interaction between residents. Covered walkways extend the living space outdoors, taking advantage of our temperate climate and integrating awareness of the natural world into activities like walking to the shower. All rooms are accessed through the central courtyard, helping eliminate the expense and space requirements of interior hallways.
The detached buildings help enclose the courtyard, providing a sense of protection and defining the core of the residences. This arrangement allows Deer Park Monastery to build within the existing pad and provide fire department access without building a large road around the buildings. This design also allows for phased construction that can help meet the project’s current budget, while being mindful of possible future expansion as funds allow.
Thick strawbale walls and operable windows provide thermal comfort for the buildings atop the hill which receive plentiful daylight and breezes. A beautiful garden setting incorporating existing cypress trees and views to the rest of the monastery will make this new residence a comfortable place to visit and live.
NATURE-CENTERED DESIGN FEATURES
- Sensitive siting in the area of existing buildings and roads minimizes the impact on the natural surroundings.
- Passive solar design lets the sun help heat the space and uses shade to stay cool. This helps reduce the need for mechanical systems and electricity.
- The narrow footprint along with operable windows optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation.
- Indoor / outdoor living is encouraged by covered walk-ways and central courtyard.
- Super-insulated strawbale walls repurpose agricultural waste as a building material and provide comfortable, quiet interiors.
- Plastered bale walls provide thermal mass, passively maintaining interior temperature
- A metal roof with recycled steel content limits solar heat gain through its reflective finish.
- High-efficiency glazing reduces heat gain
- Fire-resistive materials provide durability along with timeless beauty
- Rainwater catchment and greywater re-use supplies landscape irrigation.”
A rare opportunity to tour a straw bale house under construction! Come talk with the builders and check out how the straw bales go together to form the walls in this 1600 sq ft, two-story straw bale home designed by Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. This is the only time this job site will be open to the public until the project is completed, so don’t miss it!
Update: WOW! The homeowners of this project have been so inspired by the response to this campaign that they have decided to match any donation DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR in this last week of fundraising, up to $2,000! That means that the effect of any donation you make between now and Aug 28 will be doubled. I feel like a used car salesman yelling at you from your TV, but this is a REALLY BIG DEAL for this campaign. If we can raise just $1,250 more, all of the out-of-pocket costs of this certification will be covered and we will happily donate our time to build the website, and do the research & documentation knowing that our community believes in what we are doing. Thanks for your support!
Are you interested in helping to promote natural materials, straw bale building, energy efficiency, and simple design? Then check out our fundraising campaign to get our current straw bale, adobe, and straw-clay project certified through the Living Building Challenge! LBC is a rigorous and holistic metric that only a handful of buildings in the world have met. Let’s inspire more people to build this way by showing that simple and natural can be extraordinary!
Please share this link and help us get the word out: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/straw-bale-home-seeks-highest-certifications/x/5658336#/
Our sincere thanks to our funders so far:
Luke Morton, Darcey Donovan, Allen Olston, Jim Furness of Furness Construction Inc., Sarah Matthews, Toni Tasker, David Weir, Deanna Moore, Pete Tasker, Yoshi Makino, Lesley Christiana, Ed Earl of Priority 1 Projects, Michael Hornsby, Richard Fleiss, Jay Flynn, Mary Speare, Bob & Marty Kvaal, Bob Theis, Kerstin Sjoquist, Adam Pascu of 73 Degrees Realty, Teri Nirr, Tom Wanderer, Frank Golbeck, Martin Hammer, Jon Williams, Brook Sarson, Emily Reynolds, Bert Reuss, Donald McSwain, Ian Harrison, the California Straw Building Association, Drew Hubbell, Stevan de la Rosa, Bea Alvarez, Stephen McCabe, and Dadla Ponizil.
We are excited to announce that our current straw bale project, the Fallgren Naturally Healthy Home, is now registered with the Living Building Challenge seeking Net Zero Energy Building certification, which is a rigorous standard that will verify that the project used the land appropriately, considered beauty, and that this home is so energy efficient that it makes as much energy as it uses.
If you are not familiar with the Living Building Challenge, it is a holistic program that evaluates beauty, toxicity, equity, health, as well as energy and water efficiency. Currently, there are only 11 fully certified buildings in the world!
Want to get hands-on and learn a lot about straw bale building in a short time from knowledgable teachers? Check out this 3 day straw bale building workshop presented by the CA Straw Building Association in Santa Cruz, CA in July. You’ll get to work on a real straw bale home alongside professionals like Jim Reiland of Many Hands Builders, David Arkin of Arkin-Tilt Architects, Michele Landegger of Boa Constructor, and us, Mike Long & Rebecca Tasker of Simple Construct, as well as other CASBA members. With a high teacher-to-student ratio and experienced administrators, this should be a great workshop!
The California Straw Building Association invites you to attend our annual conference. This year’s conference celebrates CASBA’s 20th anniversary and the amazing progress we’ve made bringing straw bale and other forms of natural, low-carbon building to life. Join this diverse range of building experts gathering to share, discuss, and collaborate. There will be presentations, tours, panel discussion, and hands-on demonstrations, all set against the beautiful backdrop of spring wildflowers in the Carrizo Plain.
Simple Construct will be there presenting “Buddhists, Bales, and Building Science;” participating in a panel discussion on Plaster, Moisture, and Durability; and showing our recent work. We hope to see you there!