Energy  |  Successes  |  20.12.2013

How to build an eco-house in time of crisis?

The economic crisis has many side effects: for this young Romanian couple it forced a new innovation trajectory into their way of living. In a time of serious economic difficulties, the need to a new house turned into a project of savings based on research, innovation, energy-efficiency and eco-compatibility.

A young couple in western Romania has built a house of wheat straw bales. Furthermore, the building produces 90% of the energy needed, waste water is collected from rain drops, electricity is obtained from the light captured by photovoltaic cells, heat economy is obtained through the newspapers flakes roof insulation and through some insulating panels from refrigerator trucks placed underfloor.

"Where did the idea come from? Lack of money. We got the idea of building cheaply and sustainably an own house, and we started studying cheaper solutions, environmentally friendly at the same time and we found and chose the straw-bale construction. We studied for months. We opted for organic materials because of natural elements that do not cost so much and because we wanted to live in a healthier environment. We searched for solutions in many parts of the world , we tried to match our vision with the discovered technique and climate (precipitations) or seismic resistance of the region." said Eliza Loboncz. 

The couple began the project in June 2012 and they have currently reached the last stage: interior finishes. The foundation consists of nine pillars covered by used truck tires, which acted as a framework when pouring concrete and as a waterproof system. The structure is made of wood; the back-filling is made of bales, which once plastered offers both insulation and wall as a whole.

Bales were bought from a hill beside. They were not compact enough, so the young couple had to improvise to adjust them to a proper dimension. A bale and its transportation costs almost 1 euro. The straw needs a treatment. Chalk was sprayed and used as antiseptic together with antifungal and fire retardant solution. On top of the straw bales, the house is plastered with a composition of clay, sand, straw and horse dung. The walls will be painted with calcimine in order to keep the pores opened for the house to air.

The total costs for the construction amounted to 15.000€, and the house is almost fully energy efficient and self-sufficient. 

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