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Solutions For Green We also publish California Green Solutions and a series of blogs about healthy living solutions.
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Construction Tips for Alternative Building
STRAWBALESBest way to use straw bale: One World Design
What are the best ways to use bales?
Laying the bales flat (with grain) is most common for several reasons. The strings of the bales in the flat orientation allows up to 6" of notching and curving and niches. The flat bales are more stable as the wall rises, and less dependent on extra stiffeners.
The bales on-edge (raw edges) may save space, but with the strings thus exposed on the surface, notching is not viable, cutting (or burning) the strings more likely, and pinning is tougher. Bales on edge have far less load bearing capacity, and are often used in non-load-bearing, post and beam in-fill projects.
What tips for houseplans are most cost effective?
Using a simple plan with a square or rectangular shape is least expensive.
Use a central cupola for venting
Design all plumbing for the central part of the structure. Saves on number of feet of pipes, etc. Central location keeps moisture away from strawbales or other moisture sensitive outer walls.
Use a gray water system to reuse water for landscaping, greenhouse, etc.
Maximize use of passive solar window and airflow placement to minimize future energy costs, open the house to outdoor views, and make indoor gardening possible (consider slanting glass for proper exposure). Use barrels of water on a right angle reflection board (that shifts with time of day) as a storage mass. Thick tile or stone floors in a greenhouse solar addition also serve as storage mass.
Build small. Consider a "compound" housing plan with a central courtyard. This plan has been used around the world for thousands of years.
Use the earth for insulation...build against a moderate slope and dig into the earth for one to three sides of the walls. Use moisture barriers and an air pocket between the wall and the earth to protect the walls. Concrete blocks work well in this type of construction.
Use a hybrid plan -- use strawbale for heavy insulation walls (north and west), walls of double paned windows (solar greenhouse), adobe/earthbags/rammed earth/cob for thinner walls and for fill in between window walls.
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