Bale up the building industry!
Since getting involved in strawbale construction, I have become increasingly aware that building with strawbales makes a lot of sense! Straw bale construction is a building method first employed in the Sandhills of Nebraska more than 100 years ago. Since wood was limited and the bales stacked easily it was a practical use of their resource. Most of the early homes were built as load-bearing structures, where the roof bears on the straw walls. This method is still used in areas such as the U.S. southwest. Here in Australia we use strawbales as infill in conjunction with a post and beam structure to hold the roof. The roof protects the straw during the installation.
ebs has made a commitment to the environment by getting involved in strawbale construction. We encourage anyone who is thinking of building in strawbale to press ahead. The benefits of building with straw far out weigh the hurdles that may be experienced through the process. If you are ready to join the growing number of people enjoying the benefits of this very special building technique, we can help you even further. ebs has been involved in both the design and construction of many strawbale houses.
WHY BUILD WITH STRAWBALES?
Strawbale walls have some unique characteristics in the comfort department! Strawbale walls can effortlessly sustain a very cosy warm, or very cool indoor environment, with an R value of between 8 & 10! A brick veneer wall can only achieve a maximum of R2.5 with added insulation.
- Peace & Quiet
Strawbale walls create a very quiet indoor environment. The serene calm of a strawbale home cannot be described; you have to experience it yourself!
The extra wall thickness of a SB wall epitomises protectiveness and offers a sense of solidity & enclosure. The walls can evoke the presence and security of masonry walls of bygone eras, or contrast with other materials in a modern context.
- Low Embodied Energy
The production of Strawbales is very low in Embodied Energy. Embodied energy put simply, is the energy used to produce & transport the materials used in the construction of a building. This may seem like an insignificant consideration when choosing a building material, however research by CSIRO has found that the embodied energy in the construction of the average household represents about 15 years of normal operational energy use. This means that you've already consumed 15 years worth of houshold energy before you even move in!
As an example, one brick, just in the firing process alone, can consume the amount of energy used to drive the average small car 50km! The average house has about 10,000 bricks. That means 50,000km worth of fuel is consumed just in the manufacture and transport of your bricks!
Clearly we need to find more sustainable means of accommodating the world’s ever increasing population, in an ever renewing built environment.
Straw is produced as a bi-product of an existing agricultural industry and can be produced every year – sustainably! Straw for the most part, is wasted. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of straw is burnt off every year by farmers with little incentive to bale it. This means Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide and particulate are released into the atmosphere! Clearly, if straw can be used as an alternative to brick and in some cases a timber frame, there will be a massive positive environmental impact.
- It's Natural
Straw is a natural product and unlike so many modern building materials, it does not release any toxic gasses!
A strawbale house designed and built by nationally-renowned, environmental expert & architect, Tom Hahn.
So, you want it, it’s green & it’s clean! There are many FAQ’s about strawbale construction. Some of these include; How do you build with strawbale?; Where can you build with strawbale?; What about council approval?; Are you limited in terms of Architectural Style?; Do strawbale walls rot due to damp?; How long do strawbale walls last?; What about fire?; What about termites & mice?; How do you finish the strawbales?; and of course, is strawbale construction cheaper than conventional building techniques? They are not easily answered in a brief article, but if you want to find out more, information is available. Contact the ebs office for an obligation free information session to discuss the specifics of your project and obtain a quote.
ebs has also produced a case study based on the construction of one of our strawbale projects. The report describes in detail the construction of a strawbale house from a builder's perspective. Please contact us to purchase your copy.