Taos Builder Strives to Work with Green Materials

The work of Patrick O’Brien and his Salamander Group has spanned decades, with curiosity playing a role in leading him from conventional home building in urban Detroit to exploring alternative building in Taos, New Mexico. In 1995, he and his wife bought land near Taos and built the first of many straw bale homes that … Read more

French Environmental Regulations Value Natural Materials

The new French environmental regulations position natural materials as a priority for a sustainable future in construction, in both housing and public buildings. Wood, straw, hemp, reed or bamboo, in combination with earth or stone for their high thermal inertia, offer virtuous alternatives to the use of cement. Straw-bale construction was developed in the 1880s … Read more

The Strawtegi CO2ttage in Salt Lake City

The Strawtegi CO2ttage broke ground in October, 2021, as the first permitted structure in the U.S. insulated with dense-packed chopped straw. This net-zero carbon, modular, straw panel Accessory Dwelling Unit in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the first demonstration project and test build of Strawtegi, Inc.  The 650 square foot building demonstrates how we can … Read more

Straw Bale Building in Pennsylvania

Diane Ferguson, a former environmental health professor, has always dreamed of building a house made of natural materials. Her ideal home has about 650 straw bales stacked together with bamboo stakes driven through them. The straw is then plastered on the interior with an earthen plaster and the exterior with limestone plaster. Diane worked with … Read more

A Straw Bale Roundhouse in Northern California

This straw bale roundhouse in Benbow, Northern California, provides a comfortable living temperature that adjusts to the summer and winter months. It has a central post and large beams on the ceiling. There is a large kitchen, living and dining room, 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and open loft above for storage. There are built-in shelving, … Read more

The Last Straw

For over 25 years, The Last Straw journal was dedicated to natural building and ecological design. It was started as a collective effort by straw bale builders Matts Myrhman and Judy Knox in Tuscon, Arizona in 1993. Since then twenty four editors, three publishers, and countless contributors have continued the long conversation about alternative ways … Read more