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Authors: Luo, Jessica
Advisors: Adriaenssens, Sigrid
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Natural disasters can have a devastating impact on the people and communities they affect. They have the potential to cause high levels of physical damage to structures in a community, displacing people from their homes, marring community facilities, and hindering restoration of neighborhoods. Speedy reconstruction is important for the recovery of a city, but the housing solutions may not necessarily meet long-term goals for sustainability. Straw bale construction, which first began in the United States in the late 1800s, is an underutilized way of building that has been found to be structurally sound, environmentally sustainable, and economically advantageous. In this thesis, I examine the feasibility of using straw bale as a construction material for post-disaster housing. First, I study the properties of straw bale and the process of straw bale construction. Then, I design a small, temporary straw bale house that can later be expanded in to a larger, more permanent structure. Next, I conduct a life cycle assessment comparing the straw bale walls of the structure to walls made of steel and wood, which are more conventional materials. Straw bale contains less embodied energy than orthodox building materials, but still uses a quantity of wood that is not insignificant. Finally, I examine some of the practical considerations related to the implementation of straw bale housing, especially for post-disaster relief. I conclude that straw bale construction for post-disaster housing would be most appropriate in drier climates with high levels of straw availability, such as in the Great Plains of the United States where the construction method first originated and in the state of California, one of the first proponents of straw bale construction. Nevertheless, any plans to utilize straw bale construction for temporary housing would require more extensive research on multiple location-specific factors.
Extent: 103 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2000-2017

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