GBT researchers are working with clients Lance Olson and Wendy Wright to bring their net-zero energy retirement home, “Pelican Perch,” to life. As part of this project, Olson and Wright are collaborating with GBT researchers and straw-bale construction expert Habib Gonzalez (owner of Sustainable Works) to run a straw-bale workshop – with their own home as the classroom. Under the guidance of GBT researchers and Sustainable Works, students will get hands-on experience with implementing straw-bale insulation.
The workshop is open for pre-registration, and is being offered from Sept. 7 to 11, 2016. Students will be able to camp at nearby beach campgrounds, Ol’ MacDonald’s Resort, the picturesque Buffalo Lake, or stay in local hotels in the Town of Stettler.
“We took on this project because of its high-energy performance goals, its use of natural and alternative materials in construction, and the learning opportunities it offers,” said Rebecca Davidson, GBT researcher and project lead. “I’m excited that this is a workshop where students will be on an actual build site, learn from the challenges that arise, and see the result of their work. It’s rewarding to see a completed project.”
Straw bales will be used in Pelican Perch stacked on top of each other within a post-and-beam structure. To increase the R-value of the walls, another layer of insulation surrounds the bales between the structural posts and behind the cladding.
“We know the straw bale on its own, in the dimensions we are limited to, doesn’t have the R-value we are looking for in a net-zero energy home,” said Davidson. “Another layer of natural insulation will be added around the straw bale that will still allow it to “breathe,” which is what straw-bale walls are designed to do.”
This straw-bale course is one of many the GBT research group hopes to offer in the future. Recognizing consumer needs and industry demand, the group is also developing solar installation courses.
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