Three New Books on Strawbale and Natural Building

July/August 2007
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2007 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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July 01, 2007
A new interest in energy efficiency helps account for the recent revival of natural building. A passive-solar building with earth-plastered straw-bale walls is simultaneously structure, insulation, and mass. The use of local, minimally processed materials and a sun-harvesting design reduces the carbon footprint of each new natural home constructed—especially its lifetime requirement for fossil fuel energy. And in this age of peak oil and global warming, energy-saving solutions top the list of design criteria for conscious architects and homeowners. In the last decade, the mainstream world has awakened to the potential of strawbale construction, which has proven—through experimentation and testing—to be a viable insulating and structural wall system. And strawbale may be the cheapest, healthiest, most aesthetically versatile “new” material as well. A variety of different post-and-beam and load-bearing systems have been used in construction, tested in laboratory settings, and adopted into building codes. Judging from the plethora of new books on green building, and specifically strawbale construction, the challenge now is to sort through the many structural approaches, plaster options, and aesthetic choices, not to mention sorting through the educational resources available. Three of the most recent books are described below. ...

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