This is the first post in a series that will document the construction of a straw bale, passive-solar house in Val-des-Monts, a small town in Quebec, Canada. The house will have a durable larch roof on one side and a green roof on the other. Most of the heating during the winter will be provided by the sun, and a fireplace with a massive thermal mass will be fired up on extra cold days. Some of the wood for construction is reclaimed from local buildings that have been recently demolished. The thick straw bale walls will provide excellent insulation (the owner didn't have the exact numbers for this house, but straw bale walls usually range from R-25 to R-40) and the attic will be insulated with cellulose (made from recycled newspapers). The plaster for the straw bales is going to be mud made from blue clay found on the site. The house is 1,800 sq. ft., that includes the living quarters and the space to run a small organic farm business (the land is zoned for agriculture).
For more information on building with straw bales (and more), we recommend the book Serious Straw Bale by Paul Lacinski and Michel Bergeron and the excellent DVD by Ted Owens Building With Awareness (Ted will, in the coming months, write a series of articles about green houses for TreeHugger - stay tuned). And now, the pictures:
The roof overhang is designed so that when the sun is high during the summer, it doesn't penetrate directly, and when the sun is low during the winter, it warms up the house.
This section of flatter roof over the master bedroom will be a green roof.
Here are some bales. Straw is renewable, non-toxic and provides very good insulation. Farmers usually burn it after harvest. The bales are mechanically compacted tight and once they are sealed in plaster, they handle fire better than traditional wood frame houses according to various studies. See this post by John Laumer.
Hey there, doggies!
A pile of reclaimed wood.
More to come soon!