ASRi is pleased to announce that the Straw Bale Alternative Solutions Resource is now available online.

(Please click on the 'Shop' menu at the top of the page to purchase and download a pdf version.)

This first element of the ASR is focuses on:

'the use and limitations of straw bales as structural and non-structural wall elements in residential and small commercial buildings within the context of the requirements of Part 9 of the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC).'

Research and development of this first element began in May 2012. We have been very fortunate in that, through our various contacts and a process of networking, we gained access at the highest level to professionals in the field of straw bale construction.

People who literally 'wrote the books' and who have not only expressed their strong support for the project but, in many cases, have offered to review the document for us during its development.

People like Bruce King, David Eisenberg, Kris Dyck, Martin Hammer, Darcey Donovan, Chris Magwood and Habib Gonzalez. We are honoured by their support and interest.

As further Elements of the ASR are written they will be available online as a series of pdf documents each of which will contain guidelines related to the use of a specific natural and/or alternative building materials or system (natural methods).

The purpose of the ASR is to provide a valuable reference for the entire building community - from homeowners to architects, engineers, building officials, contractors, and all other building professionals - when working on any project that involves natural methods.

The guidelines will provide comprehensive, concise and regionally-appropriate information on these natural methods that are not currently addressed by the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC).

In order to be effective, pertinent and authoritative, the contents of the ASR will be vetted by qualified professional from different areas of the building industry in order to ensure that the information presented is highly accurate, appropriate and applicable.

Furthermore, the professional review process will ensure that the guidelines comply with regulatory requirements relating to the use of 'alternative solutions' set out in the BCBC.
 
With special thanks to our sponsors for their generous financial support of the ASR research project:

vancity
refbc
               
   
The choice of straw bales as the first element was based on a number of factors, including:
  • widest application across the province of BC;
  • the availability of current and comprehensive information and,
  • the environmental benefits of using waste agricultural materials.
The development of this first element of the ASR creates a framework for the document which will then be carried forward as further elements are added in the future.

Future additions will include (but are not limited to):
  • cob
  • rammed earth
  • adobe block
  • light clay
  • earthen plasters and floor systems
  • thermal mass
  • on-site grey-water and black-water treatment
  • alternative healthy electrical technologies
  • passive and active solar integration, and
  • living roof installations.
Grant money generously provided by the Vancity / Real Estate Foundation of BC Green Building program - as well as other revenue raised through hosting events - has been used to fund the work required to research, collate, edit, vet, design and publish the ASR.

When the initial research for an element of the ASR is completed, the accumulated data will be formatted and circulated for peer-review by qualified professionals within the building industry to ensure that the information is not only technically correct, but also meets the requirements of the BCBC with regards to all the standards set out in Part 9.
   
               
   
Once completed, each element of the ASR will be made available online, without restriction (other than applicable copyright), for a modest fee intended to cover development costs as well as future maintenance and expansion of the document.

It also is anticipated that it may be adopted in many other jurisdictions and geographical areas where the framework and contents can be edited as necessary to suit different local conditions and regulations.

We are excited to report that, even before the first document is complete, we have had expressions of interest from organisations in Ontario and New Zealand wanting to use the Straw Bale ASR as the basis for a similar publication.