Straw Bale Construction Comes to Washington D.C.
Joining a summer-long exhibition at the U.S. Botanic Garden in
Washington D.C., Builders Without Borders have created a straw-bale
eco-house to demonstrate energy-efficient design and green building
techniques. The exhibit will be on display from Memorial Day through
Columbus Day, Saturday May 24 -- October 13, 2008.
The U.S. Botanic Garden is producing this exhibition, called “One
Planet - Ours!” to showcase earth-friendly techniques and
technologies including edible school yards, urban orchards, a solar
greenhouse, photovoltaic panels, a vertical wind turbine, green
roofs and rainwater harvesting. The USBG is located on the National
Mall, across the street from the U.S. Capitol.
The Builders Without Borders exhibit focuses on affordable construction
with natural materials, including straw bales, clay, wood and bamboo.
Visitors can step inside a small building with walls of stacked
straw bales, with a wooden ceiling and wainscoting, finished with
clay and lime plasters.
They may also relax under a bamboo shade trellis to view informational
panels tracing Americas traditional green-building heritage, from
cliff dwellings and adobe pueblos of the Southwest, to an historic
straw-bale church still standing strong in the Nebraska sandhills.
Straw bales may be the most economical and ecological material available
for construction today. After a cereal grain is harvested, the remaining
hollow stalks of straw can be inexpensively baled into super-insulating
building blocks, and quickly stacked into walls by a volunteer crew
with little or no building experience. Protected with a proper foundation,
roof and plaster, bale walls could last a century or longer, providing
an attractive and energy-efficient building envelope for human habitation.
BWB will demonstrate this in its USBG exhibit. Visitors will experience
the heat and sound insulating qualities of straw-bale walls, and
touch attractive plasters of clay and lime. The display will also
showcase the versatility of earth as a building material, including
seating benches of adobe, cob, and "earthbags."
Based in New Mexico, Builders Without Borders has assembled a building
team of experienced natural builders from across America including
Athena and Bill Steen of the Canelo Project, Laura Bartels of GreenWeaver
Inc, Darrel DeBoer of DeBoer Architects, Steve Kemble and Mollie
Curry of Mud Straw Love, Doni Kiffmeyer and Kaki Hunter of OKOKOK
Productons and others, aided by Washington D.C. area building professionals.
The eco-house exhibit will be taking shape during the month of May,
on the east side of the Botanic Garden, at First Street SW.
The dozens of other exhibitors at the U.S. Botanic Garden include
the Department of Energy (DOE), National Renewable Energy Laboratories
(NREL), The Nature Conservancy, the American Horticultural Society,
the SmartGrowth Network, and many more.
USBG horticulturist and event coordinator Ray Mims says, “Our
hope is that this will be a fun, interesting, thought-provoking
experience for our visitors. Our goal is to provide the public with
take home messages, empower them with knowledge, and motivate them
to get involved in some manner.”
The BWB Eco-house team will also offer hands-on workshops during
the summer on special Family Days hosted by the USBG. Dates include
Saturday June 21, July 19, August 16, and September 27. Kids of
all ages will be invited to stack some straw bales and get their
hands dirty plastering with mud. Just follow the aroma of cookies
baking in a solar oven.
For more information on the One Planet Ours! Exhibition, visit www.builderswithoutborders.org