Tightly packed straw in prefabricated rectangular wooden wall frames are being assembled for housing in various places in Europe and Russia. Once the frames are assembled the walls can be lime-rendered. These houses perform well under resistance tests.
Straw is available in abundance, is sustainable, has a low carbon footprint, can build strong and durable buildings that further cut emissions by reducing heat loss, and is not associated with the air and noise pollution.
Numerous companies have emerged that design and construct straw-based buildings. UK-based Straw Works, for example, has been involved in 300 natural buildings projects over the last 25 years and has helped to re-establish straw as a building material in the UK.
The resurgence of natural building materials and methods goes hand in hand with the world’s shift to sustainable practices and renewable energy. A carbon-neutral world cannot be built on environmentally damaging practices and a reliance on materials that are not only attributed to greenhouse gas emissions but also to air and noise pollution.
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I question whether the use of so much wood to frame these prefabricated panels is an improvement over the standard practice of stacking bales upon each other and compressing them between the footing and an upper bond beam. I believe we need to carefully consider when and where to utilize our diminishing supply of wood.
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