Straw Bale Construction Offers Improved Energy Efficiency And Safety

Recently we've been covering the movement to incorporate more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in housing and building, as this is an area where there are a lot of potential gains to be made by reducing energy and material waste. One such practice that has grown in popularity over the past few years is straw bale construction.

It's exactly what it sounds like: tightly-compress bales of straw are stacked to form the walls of a structure. They're usually supported by some kind of rebar or bamboo anchoring.

It may seem strange that modern homes could be built using straw, but in fact this process has a lot of benefits. To begin with, straw is a renewable and easy to grow crop that takes much less time to raise in a field than the pine trees and other woods that are used for lumber in housing stock. It's also much less energy intensive than concrete, which requires massive machinery to produce.

But straw has other, more surprising features, such as its resistance to fire. It may seem odd that a pile of dry grass would be a flame retardant, but in fact the straw bales that are used in construction are packed so tightly that there are almost no pockets of air inside, making it impossible for fire to thrive. Straw bales also make an excellent insulator, keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer just as well as the fiberglass insulation that is used in conventional buildings. Concerned about termites?, a green building site, reports that there is no evidence straw bales are susceptible to termite infestations.

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