UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into the use of cob and/or straw bale construction in non-residential buildings Burgess, Connor; Mariano, Emmar Kenneth; Richman, Ryan


This report aims to assess the validity of using either cob or straw-bale in the construction of a new learning centre at the UBC farm using a triple bottom line assessment. For each of the construction materials, the team addresses issues pertaining to the economic, social, and environmental aspects in order to derive a conclusion and recommendation. Furthermore, it was specified that both cob and straw-bale were not required to be used exclusively. This research is accomplished through the usage of publications presented by Universities, coalitions of private companies, and through various sources in the internet. The main concerns to be addressed using a triple bottom line assessment were the following; economics - the suitability and pricing of both construction materials in British Columbia, social factors - building safety and comfort, and the environmental footprint - pollution due to the production of either material. It was found that it is optimal to use cob and straw-bale in conjunction with each other in order to build the new learning centre, as using both materials eliminates the negative aspects of the other. While cob was found to have a more uniform structural compressive resistance and weak heat insulating property, straw-bale was found to have excellent insulation, but perform poorly in uniform compressive resistance tests. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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