ADRA Straw Bale Housing Becomes an Eco-Friendly Solution for Post-Earthquake China
For more information, contact:
John Torres, Senior Public Relations Manager
SILVER SPRING, Md. —On June 1, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) launched a new project to introduce straw bale housing construction technology to assist families living in China’s earthquake-affected Sichuan Province.
“This technology has many benefits,” said Sarah Ng, public relations officer for ADRA China. “It can make an impact in helping China reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Since the materials utilized originate from farming waste, straw bale technology reduces the amount of coal needed in the winter by 68 percent. It also creates buildings that are both fire and quake-resistant.”
The project will build two model straw bale homes in two villages in Sichuan Province. ADRA China has extensive experience with straw bale construction in northern China, through an ongoing project in Heilongjiang Province that will be completed at the end of the year.
“We hope that after these two houses are completed people will see and feel the benefits of this method of construction, and start building them in Sichuan,” said Ng.
Straw bale construction is a method of building that has been implemented by ADRA China for more than a decade. Since 1998, ADRA has provided technical and financial support in the construction of more than 600 straw bale homes and three schools in rural villages, and trained hundreds on straw bale housing construction, including local government officials, construction workers, architects and homeowners. Since its beginning, more than 2,000 people have benefitted in Heilongjiang Province.
Although straw bale building has been in use for more than a century, its use in construction has recently gained popularity due to the superior insulation it provides, which makes straw bale homes more economical and energy efficient than traditional homes.
According to ADRA China, the construction phase of the project will end in December 2009. The second phase will last for another one to two years, and will consist of social marketing among homeowners, and training of construction workers. Technical assistance in building straw bale homes will also be provided as needed.
Project donors include Pal System Tokyo, ADRA Canada, ADRA Korea, the Rotary Club of Monterey International, and the ADRA Czech Republic.
In 2008, ADRA was honored with the Ryutaro Hashimoto Incentive Prize from the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development for its straw bale house diffusion strategy. ADRA China’s architect, Kelly Lerner, also received the 2005 World Habitat Award from the Building and Social Housing Foundation of Great Britain for providing a practical and innovative solution to current housing needs and problems. The following year, ADRA China hosted an international study tour in Heilongjiang Province to demonstrate the benefits of straw bale housing.
In June, Lerner, a leading eco-architect in the U.S., traveled to Sichuan to assist ADRA China in developing new designs suitable for the more humid conditions of the Sichuan Basin.
This project is in response to a rising need for housing following the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the region on May 12, 2008, leaving nearly 88,000 either dead or missing, and nearly 400,000 injured, according the United Nations Children’s Fund. An estimated 5.5 million homes collapsed in the disaster and another 5.9 million were severely damaged, the Sichuan Provincial Government reported to the World Bank.
ADRA has been working in the People’s Republic of China since 1998, addressing poverty alleviation through microcredit, health, disaster preparedness and environmental issues. Their key program is the introduction and extension of safe, healthy, sustainable, and energy-efficient straw bale construction practices.
ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.
For more information, visit www.adra.org.
Author: Nadia McGill