Since the organization’s inception, The Altai Project has focused significant resources on supporting and promoting the use of natural building techniques and alternative energy technologies in Altai Republic.
We achieved this through technology grants and study trips and practicums, as well as sending teams of builders and other experts to Altai for construction projects.
Strawbale building has great promise in southern Siberia, as this grain-growing region is also subject to fierce winter temperatures and logging pressure. We have found local partners in the nonprofit sector like Straw Capital and Fund for 21st Century Altai and educational institutions such as Barnaul’s Institute for Architecture and Design that are eager to teach people natural building techniques.
Strawbale homes are an efficient use of local building materials and agricultural waste; the structures are energy-efficient and pleasant homes when properly built and cared for.
Russian design professionals who encounter strawbales and earthen plaster are often enchanted by the possibilities these media offer them—to exercise their artistic skills while meeting the need for environmentally friendly buildings.
With climate change and economic problems becoming more and more pressing, architects and contractors are facing the demand to design and build homes that are inexpensive and “green.” A strawbale home can meet this demand while also being a work of art.
The use of alternative energy technology is a burgeoning business in Altai as well. Companies like “Solar Energy” based in Gorno-Altaisk are often overwhelmed by orders to install solar panels and wind turbines for electricity generation in very remote, off-the-grid areas in the Republic.
This technology has been a key means of connecting isolated villages and even semi-nomadic herders to the larger Altai community. We expect that in the next few years that these technologies will even be manufactured in the Republic or neighboring Altai Krai.
In early 2015, a 5 MW solar array was commissioned in Kosh-Agach District, with 2-3 more planned in the next few years. At the time of its commissioning, it was the largest solar power generation plant in all of Russia. These plans are vital to meeting Kosh-Agach power demand and limiting the use of firewood and fossil fuel-based power generation.
During the last decade, TAP has helped to build two strawbale demonstration projects in Altai – one in the Chemal Valley at Fund for 21st Century Altai’s Alternative Energy Center and a second, more ambitious one at Altai State.
In between these two major projects, experts have traveled to Altai to assess potential for alternative energy technology implementation including small hydroelectric stations and as well as bringing Altaian designers and builders to the US to learn more about the technology.