Chartreuse Blog


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.



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.



AIA South Dakota
October 16, 2009, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Local Green Events | Tags:

The South Dakota AIA Convention was held today and yesterday, October 15-16, here in Sioux Falls.  On Thursday afternoon, the public was invited to a sustainable treat: Joyce Coppinger of Lincoln, NE gave a presentation on “Building with Straw.”  Joyce discussed the history of straw bale construction, its environmental and human health benefits, its economical effectiveness, and general awesomeness!  She also demonstrated some design and building techniques through case studies in the United States and Europe.

If you ever want to participate in a straw bale or plastering workshop, track Joyce down at ReBuild Associates in Lincoln (or, I have her contact info if you are serious about participating in a future event!  Just shoot me an email at whitneyparks@brightgreenresearch.org).



Downtown Harvest and Wine Festival
September 23, 2009, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Green Materials, Local Green Events | Tags: ,

Downtown Harvest and Wine Festival 2009 | Saturday, September 26, 2009
10:00-4:00 at Fawick Park, Phillips Avenue, East Bank and 5:00-8:00 at 2nd Avenue between 10th and 11th Street

About the Event:

The 2009 Harvest and Wine Festival in downtown Sioux Falls is focused “on sustainability and our South Dakota Heritage.” There will be booths about local history, food, and demonstrations such as stone cutting and straw bale construction as well as the Zoo Mobile, a working beehive, a pet show, horse and wagon rides, and a farmer’s market in Fawick Park from 10-4.  From 5-8 there will be wine and beer sampling and live music on 2nd avenue between 10th and 11th street.

Be sure to check out Chartreuse in Fawick Park.  We will be demonstrating straw bale construction techniques!

To learn more about the event visit the Downtown Sioux Falls Website at www.dtsf.com/Top-Menu/Latest-News/Downtown-Harvest-Festival or download the Festival Flyer.