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re: strawbale houses, superinsulate verses thermal mass
1 jan 2000
robert w. tom  wrote:

>>...exactly why do you feel that a bale wall needs plaster
>>to seal the inside for good thermal performance? 

>seems to me that i've already explained this to you more than once.

nope. not even once, in a way that makes sense to me.

>there are many excellent papers on this subject. i would suggest
>that you read them rather than attempting education by usenet. 

you might just say "i don't know" :-) we need more education by usenet:

    it's a snap to save energy in this country. as soon as more
    people become involved in the basic math of heat transfer
    and get a gut-level, as well as intellectual, grasp on
    how a house works, solution after solution will appear.

                                tom smith, 1980

>i'm not suggesting anything like your proposal.

sure you are. plaster the inside, thinner.

>i am *saying* that the straw *needs* to be encapsulated with
>directly-adhered plaster on both sides...

well, that's different. we have to consider the *needs* of the straw...

>there was a fellow is the us southwest who was building a subdivsion
>of sb homes. he planned to  use a grid of #4 rebar at 12" o/c, both
>sides of the bale wall, with 3" thick concrete skins, both sides...

sounds overly strong. the inner concrete might be weak and still add
desirable thermal mass. the outer's thicker than needed, and both sides
might use something more like chicken wire than rebar.

>with in-wall humidity sensors which operated fans to circulate air
>through the bales to minimise moisture problems.
 
>what's wrong with this picture ? 

the fellow was probably mislead by an architect trying to cover his ass
or a banker or an overzealous building inspector.

>> being earthy-crunchy ain't enuf. strawbales need to offer more 
>> practical and economical advantages (eg very low heating bills
>> and indoor pollution, with reasonable labor costs) to compete
>> with conventional housing.
 
well, they don't really need to "compete," but it would be nice to see
more of them, since they can be so ecological and energy-efficient.
but their labor content presently limits their use, severely.

>obviously, if one were to build a sb home in the manner that nick
>proposes, 
>	- it would not have low heating bills...
>	
>        - it would have poor indoor air quality...
>
>	- it would have higher than necessary labour costs...

no. that's not obvious, just more bullshit. in rhetoric, an assertion
demands no more than a counterassertion. a few numbers would help...

what is obvious is that you are ignorant, argumentative, uncooperative,
uninterested in learning or teaching or inventing anything better,
and numerically illiterate.

>...and it would have a life expectancy of about as long as it
>takes for plastic to turn into crap  as a result uv degradation. 

vinyl siding lasts pretty well in the sun. perhaps you'd prefer to
nail up old keds on the wall... 

>...the owners of properly-detailed/built sb homes all over the
>world give glowing testimonials as to their low fuel consumption,
>healthy/calming interiors...

calming interiors, good feng shui, no metal bedsprings... earthshippers
probably talk the same way, after they've finished their major excavations
and spent 20 minutes pounding dirt into each and every old tire. they also
claim thermal mass is good insulation. if not, why  would  they have gone to
all that trouble? will the dsm-vi will have an ecohouse-craziness category?
("s. mentions 'embodied energy' at least twice in 3 months...")

>ever hear of blower-door tests nick ? and what they mean ?

just got two done on a house; 0.57-->0.31 ach. more room for improvement.

>...i have business-suited clients who specifically asked to have
>their homes designed using straw bale.

rich people like dennis weaver with egos looking for unusual one-of-a-kind
laboriously-handcrafted houses. we seem to have different outlooks. most
engineers like to leverage their labor: design something well once, see it
reproduced thousands of times, create good housing for lots of people,
save lots of fossil fuels, and so on. 

otoh, when bucky offered to give the aia his 4d house patents, the board
of directors passed the following resolution:

    the american institute of architects is opposed to any kind of
    house designs that are manufactured like-as-peas-in-a-pod.

nick




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