Straw Houses Making a Comeback

Straw houses are making a comeback in Europe

But recently straw has come back into fashion as a building material. America will add rules on straw-house construction to its national building codes in 2015 because of growing demand. The European Commission has said it wants up to 5% of new houses to be built out of straw panels by 2020. Why the renewed interest in this unlikely building material?

In the past two decades the use of straw-filled panels has become fashionable again all over the world as an eco-friendly and cheap construction method. Straw can be locally sourced in most parts of the world, reducing transportation emissions (and costs). Once installed, straw panels provide high levels of insulation: a study by the University of Bath found that a straw house’s energy costs could be as much as 85% lower than those of a conventionally-built home.

Some of straw’s former drawbacks have been resolved. A lime render means that straw houses no longer receive unwanted attention from cows. Nor do they require the use of poisonous chemicals in the building process. Builders boast of their low construction costs: one straw house was recently built in Scotland for £4,000 ($6,400), one-twentieth of the cost of the average new build in Britain. Straw houses are even earthquake-resistant, according to research by the University of Nevada, Reno. Because they are more flexible than materials such as concrete and bricks, they are more stable during tremors—and less likely to kill anyone if they do fall down, being so lightweight.

For now, I will follow the building standards on Pig #3 instead of Pig #1…


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