Straw Bale Building Nature Center's Home of the New Millennium
The Berkeley Marina Experience Program staff has an environmentally sensitive building made out of straw bales and recycled and salvaged materials. Built in 2004
Interested in green building? Plan on doing a remodel or get a new kitchen floor? Come see what it can look like here first. Teachers, bring your green building classes; we have tours and watch our video on how it was built. We have hosted representatives from India, China, and Russia. Visitors are enthralled and inspired to learn more about products they can use in their homes and businesses. If you'd like more information about the environmental features, visit this page: For the information about the products used in the building of the building
The programs in the new building teach children about the ecology of their estuary, watershed, and the Bay, while the building's construction serves as a model for the entire community on environmentally conscious building practices. As a significant and accessible project, this building showcases resource efficient and waste -minimization practices and heightens awareness about alternative building techniques. For photos of the process
The primary building material for this project is rice straw bales, a waste byproduct of the agricultural industry. The building design is 860 square feet of interior space with an additional 450 square feet covered outdoor patio classroom. The plans include an option for expansion as needed. The bottom bales are enclosed in a water-resistant sheath. 2 foot by 20 ft "belts" strap the bales down to reinforce the walls and stucco is over the entire structure, inside and out. Straw bale buildings are durable. Houses in Nebraska are still standing 100 years after construction. The building is fire resistant and provides exceptional insulation, saving heating and cooling costs throughout the year. Recycled or salvaged material was used for foundations, framing, roofing, doors, and cabinetry. A team of professionals Dan Smith and Associates www.dsaarch.com and Van Mechelen Architects http://vanmechelenarchitects.com have worked together on the building design and construction.
The need for coming up with alternative building materials is well documented. Forests in the world are declining, lumber costs are high, construction and demolition waste accounts for 20-25% of solid landfill volume. The Shorebird Nature Center's new building is a showcase for waste reducing practices and recycled content materials. We show students, teachers, and the general public that we are practicing what we preach, and we are incorporating concepts from the construction of this building into our educational programs. Rice straw bales--the primary building material, unlike many other agricultural byproducts, do not decompose quickly under natural conditions. Farmers have had little choice but to burn the leftover material. Over a million tons of rice straw are burned annually in California, releasing 47,000 tons of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. As the State of California has mandated phasing out the traditional burning, rice growers in California must find alternative disposal methods. Straw bale buildings are a natural way to alleviate this problem. There is increasing interest in alternative construction in the media and the general public: straw bale buildings have recently been featured in national and local media. Since there are no public straw bale buildings in the Bay Area, our new building is an excellent resource for teaching school children and the community about alternative building techniques.
We received grant monies from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, Department of Energy, West Berkeley Foundation, Alameda Country Waste Management Authority and Source Reduction and Recycling Board, City of Berkeley- Recycled Plastics Grant, City of Berkeley General Fund, Builders Bookstore, Strong Foundation, Home Depot and individual contributions.
We received product donations from:
Floor Dimensions- installed and cut the wonderful mosaic in the natural linoleum floors.
Berkeley Shade Company donated Solar Screen shades- "Sheer weave" for the windows in the office. 510- 841-3171
For more information on Green building contact:
Contact the FREE Ask An Expert hotline for answers to your green building questions: www.BuildItGreen.org
and find Source green building products through the Green Materials Database
If you would be interested in making a tax-deductible contribution, please contact program coordinator Patty Donald at (510)981-6720 To get back into the Marina Experience web pages click here
shorebird nc products for materials used in the building.