Chartreuse Blog


Progress Continues at Summit House

Bruns Construction continues building the structure for the straw bale shed at Summit House…

Box columns are up!

The box columns are constructed of a double 2 x 4 on the exterior and a single 2 x 4 on the interior of the column.  15/32 plywood is used to sheath the boxes on both sides.  Plywood is used, as opposed to OSB, because it will stand up to moisture better if any water were to get inside the bale wall.

The columns are as deep as the bales and sit on the base layer of sills and between the second layer of sills.  They are bolted to the sills and the foundation (two per column) with 7″ x 1/2″ anchor bolts.

The first column to go up will frame the double door.

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Bruns Construction Begins Sill Plates/ Schoeneman’s Donates Lumber

Bruns Construction, of Sioux Falls, is donating their time this week to build the structure for the straw bale shed at Summit House, and Schoeneman’s Building Materials has donated all of the lumber.  A huge thanks goes out to our co-sponsors!

The sill plates , or toe-ups (as they are often called in straw bale construction), are used to raise the bales above grade to protect them from water damage and infiltration.  At Summit House, a double 2 x 4 was used for the interior sill and a double 2 x 6 was used for the exterior sill.  All the lumber on the project is pressure treated to prevent decay.

First, the sills are measured on the foundation.  A moisture barrier is laid above the foundation and below the sills.  A second layer is added above the inside sill and below the exterior sill to direct any moisture out of the wall.  A third layer will be added above the exterior sill to separate the bales from the wood.  The second layer of sills is notched to allow the box columns to sit between.

After marking anchor bolt locations on the plates, holes were drilled for the 7″ x 1/2″ anchor bolts at 3′ o.c.  The bolts were then hammered into the plates and foundation.

Weep holes are cut into the exterior sill plate at 2′ o.c. to allow any moisture to escape the wall.



Amert Construction Pours Straw Bale Shed Foundation

Amert Construction, of Madison, SD, donated materials and their time to pour the foundation for the Summit House Straw Bale Shed.

The foundation is a four inch slab-on-grade with thickened edge.  Below the slab is 6″ x 6″ #10 reinforcing mesh, 6 mil vapor barrier, and 4 inches of washed gravel.  A 1.5″ ledge was formed into the foundation edge to support the exterior plaster coating that will eventually cover the straw bale walls.  1/2″ rebar is embedded in the concrete to impale the bottom two courses of bales (two per bale).

Huge thanks to Amert Construction!



Local Contractors Prepare to Build Shed Frame

Plain Green is less than two weeks away, and local contractors are preparing to begin work on the structural frame for Sioux Falls Seminary’s Summit House future Tool Lending Library.  The project is progressing as a Community Service Project built in conjunction with the sustainability conference.

The Plain Green Conference and Marketplace brings two days of advancing sustainability to the Washington Pavilion in downtown Sioux Falls April 28-29, 2010. Plain Green is the premiere conference on green design, business and ideas on the Northern Plains.  This year, the event will open with the bale raising and plastering of the straw bale shed at Summit House by Plain Green attendees.

The shed will be an example of infill construction using a modified post and beam structure.  Infill straw bale is predominately used in construction for a few reasons. First, infill is easier to meet code, get insurance, and get mortgage lenders because it is more like traditional methods of construction than structural straw bale. It is adaptable, fits into many architectural styles, is changeable after construction, and allows for a much larger structure. It is also easier to repair or replace damaged sections. The use of a post and beam structure allows for the construction of a roof before the bales are stacked. This allows the bales to be protected from the weather during construction.

The foundation will keep the bales well above grade. As long as the bales are not able to leach water from the ground, any foundation type can be used, with appropriate design considerations for material weight and climate.  At Summit House, a slab on grade with a thickened edge will be used.  Two pressure treated sill plates or a “toe-up” will be constructed around the perimeter and filled with pea gravel to provide a capillary break. A waterproof barrier will separate the toe-up from the foundation as well as the toe up from the bales.  Rebar will impale the bottom courses of bales to keep the wall in place on top of the toe up. Weep holes will be added to the exterior base plate to allow drainage.  Two foot overhangs will also protect the bales from moisture.

The shed will be stuccoed with a cement-lime plaster.  Plasters are made up of a binding agent, the main component of the plaster, a structural filler such as sand, rock or aggregates, and water.  At least three layers are applied, a scratch coat, a brown coat, and a finish coat. When using cement and lime plasters a metal mesh is used as reinforcement in the plaster.  A moisture barrier will not be used.

The project is presented by Puetz Corporation.  Co-Sponsors include Bruns Construction, Amert Construction, Koch Hazard Architects, Jeld-Wen, Schoeneman’s, Carlson General Carpentry, and the Pettigrew Heights Housing Resource Center.



Plain Green Volunteers to Build Sioux Falls’ First Strawbale Building

McCrory Gardens, Brookings, SD. Photo by Dean Isham.

Live/ Work Studio in Grantville, Kansas

Contact: Whitney Parks
605.782.8728 or whitneyparks@brightgreenresearch.org
Or visit http://plaingreen.org

The Plain Green Conference and Marketplace brings two days of advancing sustainability to the Washington Pavilion in downtown Sioux Falls April 28-29, 2010. Plain Green is the premiere conference on green design, business and ideas on the Northern Plains.

This year, Plain Green will open with an exciting event, a community service project, integrating hands-on learning, sustainable building concepts, and community stewardship.

The Project

The Sioux Falls Chapter of Architecture for Humanity and Sioux Falls Seminary have partnered to organize the construction of a Straw Bale Shed, April 27 and 28, before the Plain Green 10 Conference.  Sioux Falls Seminary’s Summit House, located near downtown Sioux Falls in the Pettigrew Height’s Neighborhood, will be the building site for the new straw bale shed, a gateway project that may lead to creative thinking about development in the neighborhood.  Sioux Falls Seminary students serving at Summit House hope to eventually use the structure as a Tool Lending Library for the residents of the Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood for simple home maintenance and repair.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in learning about straw bale construction, would like to help build the first straw bale structure in the City of Sioux Falls, or if you would like to volunteer your time for a good cause, join the building team. Spend two days bale raising and plastering with a straw bale specialist from Nebraska, Joyce Coppinger, Managing Editor and Publisher of The Last Straw Journal.  Participants will learn sustainable construction skills with hands-on involvement while building the straw-bale shed.  Space is very limited and an application is required.  Though there is no fee, space is available for Plain Green attendees only.  Register at plaingreen10.eventbrite.com.  After registering, you will be emailed an application.  Team selection will be completed by April 13, 2010.

This Community Service Project is made possible by Koch Hazard Architects and Chartreuse Research, in partnership with Architecture for Humanity, Sioux Falls Chapter and Sioux Falls Seminary.



Plain Green Announces Keynote Speakers

Cameron Sinclair and Dr. Mitchell Joachim, both world-renowned leaders in sustainable design, we be headlining a slate of five keynote speakers at Plain Green 10, April 28-29, 2010.

Cameron Sinclair is the co-founder and ‘eternal optimist’ at Architecture for Humanity, a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings professional design services to communities in need. Over the past ten years the organization has worked in twenty six countries on projects ranging from school, health clinics, affordable housing and long term sustainable reconstruction. Sinclair and Architecture for Humanity co-founder Kate Stohr have compiled a compendium on socially conscious design titled “Design Like You Give A Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises”. He serves on advisory boards of the Acumen Fund, Detroit Collaborative Design Center and the Institute for State Effectiveness.

Sinclair is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2006 TED prize and the 2005 RISD/Target Emerging Designer of the Year. Recently he was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Along with co-founder Kate Stohr, Sinclair was awarded the Wired Magazine 2006 Rave Award for Architecture for their work in responding to housing needs following Hurricane Katrina. In 2008 they were recipients of the National Design Award for demonstrating “that good design can indeed change the world.” As a result of the TED Prize he and Stohr launched the Open Architecture Network, the worlds’ first open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design. In 2009 the network will host a global challenge to redesign educational facilities around the world. Learn much more at http://plaingreen.org/speakers.

Mitchell Joachim is a leader in ecological design and urbanism. He is a Co-Founder at Terreform ONE and Terrefuge. He is faculty at Columbia University and Parsons and has been awarded the Moshe Safdie Research Fellowship, and the Martin Family Society Fellow for Sustainability at MIT. He won the History Channel and Infiniti Excellence Award for the City of the Future, and Time Magazine Best Invention of the Year 2007. His project, Fab Tree Hab, has been exhibited at MoMA and widely published.

Joachim was chosen by Wired magazine for “The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To”. Rolling Stone magazine honored Mitchell as an agent of change in “The 100 People Who Are Changing America”. He was selected to be the Frank Gehry International Visiting Chair in Architectural Design at the University of Toronto for Spring 2010. Mitchell has also won the 2010 TED Fellowship.

Other keynotes at Plain Green 10 will include:

Gail Vittori, author of Sustainable Healthcare Design and 2009 Chair of US Green Building Council, the organization overseeing the LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) rating program.

Steve Clark, Walking and Bicycling Program Manager for Transit for Livable Communities, overseeing a 4 year, $22.5 million pilot program to improve conditions for walking and bicycling throughout the state of Minnesota.

Brian Dunbar, Executive Director of the Institute for the Built Environment (IBE), professor of Construction Management at Colorado State University and co-author of 147 Ways to Teach Sustainability.

Now in it’s third year, Plain Green will be bigger and better than ever in 2010, with five star-power keynote speakers, in-depth workshops, interactive breakout sessions and three floors of the best green exhibitors, all under one historic roof. Learn more about all the Plain Green 10 speakers here.



Building with Bales in Sioux Falls?
February 8, 2010, 2:42 pm
Filed under: Community Service, Green Materials, Local Green Events | Tags: ,

Ag Building at Symbiosis Farms

That’s right!  We are going to get our hands dirty and build with straw bales right here in Sioux Falls.  You can join in, here’s how…

We are partnering with the Sioux Falls Chapter of Architecture for Humanity and Sioux Falls Seminary to build a shed during the Plain Green 10 Conference in April.  Sioux Falls Seminary’s Summit House, located in the Pettigrew Heights, will be the site for the straw bale building.

A bit about straw bale construction:

The first straw bale buildings were located in the Sand Hills of Nebraska in the 1800s. Many of these homes still exist and, if maintained, are still in excellent shape. The oldest known straw bale construction in the world, located in Alliance, Nebraska, turned 100 years old in 2003.

Straw bale construction is an example of industrial ecology, an industry’s waste is turned into another industry’s food in a closed-loop system. The waste-product of the cereal grain industry, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, and rice, is straw, the tubular structure of a grain plant after the seed and grain is removed. Two and three-string square bales are used for construction.

Straw bale construction is done in two very different ways: as the structure, referred to as “Nebraska style” and “load-bearing,” or as the infill, referred to as “post and beam” and non-load-bearing.”  Infill straw bale is predominately used for a few reasons. First, infill is easier to meet code, get insurance, and get mortgage lenders because it is like traditional methods of construction.

It is adaptable, fits into many architectural styles, is changeable after construction, and allows for a much larger structure. It is also easier to repair or replace damaged sections. The use of a post and beam structure allows for the construction of a roof before the bales are stacked. This allows the bales to be protected from the weather during construction.

Straw Bale constructions have an average of R-1.45 per inch of wall thickness when plastered (as high as R-50 for a 20 inch wall), have a high compressive strength, a very good acoustical rating, and have been rated with two-hour fire resistance.