Eco-friendly school will use straw-bale construction for walls

January 01, 2007 |

When completed this spring, the 26,900-sf Friends Community School in Greenbelt, Md., will be one of the largest straw-bale structures in the world. The Building Team specified straw-bale construction because of its environmental qualities, insulation value, and durability against wind, pests, and moisture. Designed by Baltimore-based Hord Coplan Macht, the $5.7 million school will also feature a vegetated roof, daylight harvesting, and heat-recovery systems. During cold months, radiant flooring made of stained concrete will absorb the sun's heat and keep the floors warm. When sunlight isn't available, the floor will be heated by hot-water pipes. Surrounded by 17 acres of wilderness, the school will have large windows to take in views of the wetlands, just 25 feet away. The facility is expected to earn LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Other team members include MEP engineer Schlenger/Pitz & Associates, Timonium, Md., structural engineer Skarda & Associates, and straw-bale consultant Furbish Co., both of Baltimore.

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