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
Whether you call them guest houses, granny flats, or second dwelling units, there’s some exciting news about them! New legislation passed in CA lifts some of the restrictions around these units, which are now all called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s).
Two of the most exciting features of the new rules, which went into effect on Jan 1st, are that ADU’s are now allowed to be as big as 50% of the square footage of the main house instead of 30% and, if the project is located close to public transportation, the requirement to provide extra onsite parking has been waived. The new rules also make permitting an ADU faster and less expensive. And a permitted ADU can legally be rented out, generating steady income for the owner.
This could be huge for San Diego’s affordable housing crisis! Now combine that with natural, non-toxic, low-carbon building and we can do something real to address our growing population in a more sustainable way.
If you would like to explore the possibility of building a high-performance, non-toxic ADU on your property, we’d be happy to help you evaluate your options.
“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!
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!
Four curved straw bale buildings wrap around a central courtyard. A covered breezeway made of reclaimed timber connects them. With graceful super-insulated
straw bale walls and passive solar orientation, these buildings will help the Sisters live comfortably in-tune with nature. Natural ventilation, efficient heating and cooling systems, greywater and rainwater systems, and a large PV array give these buildings a lighter footprint.
We are proud to have been part of this remarkable project and invite you to tour the site as part of the USGBC’s annual Green Homes Tour. With 9 sites on this year’s Tour, there is sure to be something of interest to everyone. See the brochure for more info
This may be your only chance to tour these buildings at Deer Park. Three of them will be the private residences for the nuns and one will be Thich Nhat Hanh’s home when he visits, so once they are completed, they will not be open to the public. Please join us on Sunday Oct 4 for a chance to tour of these lovely buildings.
We hope to see you there!
Rebecca & Mike, Simple Construct
Thanks to everyone who came out for the Tour! 160+ people at 12 straw bale houses!
Tour de Bale – straw bale home tour in San Diego
Sunday, May 31, 2015, noon-4pm at locations all over San Diego County
Experience for yourself some of the beautiful, efficient, & natural straw bale buildings in San Diego County!
Straw bale homes are unique, energy-efficient, and healthier for people and for the environment. They are more fire-proof than conventional houses and perform well in earthquakes. San Diego County is home to more than 56 permitted straw bale buildings in a variety of sizes and styles. On Sunday May 31st, join the self-guided Tour de Bale and visit straw bale homes in locations near you including:
- San Diego
- Borrego Springs
Knowledgable homeowners, owner-builders, builders, designers, architects, and CASBA volunteers will be on hand to answer your questions about this wonderful way to build.
Registration is $10 per individual, couple, or family. This fee covers the cost associated with the tour and any profit will go to the the California Straw Building Association.
THE WORKDAYS ARE NOW FULL, NO MORE REGISTRATIONS CAN BE ACCEPTED.
The dates for the workdays have been released and the few remaining spots will fill up fast.
There will be 3 workdays where you can to volunteer to help stack bales and apply clay plasters, coming up this winter at the Deer Park Monastery in Escondido. The workdays will be run by the Monastery and may fill up quickly.
For info on future events like these, join our email list (click the envelope button at the bottom of the page).