This is in response to Wendy Morrison's question in the main forum, "I helped build a straw bale structure in Northern Indiana and would like to see that trend as well......I have been told on many occassions that Indiana is not the ideal environment due to climate change...what are your thoughts?"
My understanding is that the humid summers and frigid winters create a potential problem for mold or fungus developing in the bales. I have a hunch that this problem can be remedied by ensuring the bales have a low moisture content (15-20%) during construction, and utilizing interior vapor barriers (4 mil plastic) to eliminate interior moisture in the winter from condensing in the walls as the air/vapor migrates to the outside of the house. This vapor barrier would necessitate using furring strips and drywall on the inside. Another consideration is snow loads. Most parts of IN have enough of a snow load to require a supporting steel moment frame or a timber frame with shear bracing, with the bales used as infill. This is likely not a big problem, as most building inspectors will require the frame anyway in order to comply with state building codes. "Compressed" bales with 8 times the load bearing capability could also be used to handle the load, but would require the approval of your county or city building code inspector, and would use significantly more natural resources.
This product is new to me, and I don't know of any in use in Indiana, but here is a manufacturer website that is very informative, www.agriboard.com. This product is a kind of SIP, and I would be curious to know how it stacks up to other SIPs in terms of R-value, energy required to manufacture and ship, etc.