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Straw bales as a choice in new housing is distinctly different from virtually all new products developed to enhance the efficiency of home construction from a structural, energy, environmental or cost efficiency perspective. New building products are often developed by large companies through research and development, then marketed, branded and patented. Straw bale, and its applications in house construction, is a grass roots technology, developed by small builders, home owners and 'do-it-yourself-ers' exploring a means of providing housing that is...

The two most common questions we encounter from individuals exploring straw bales as a building option are: “Do they pose a fire hazard?" and “Are they going to be a haven for mice and vermin?” This is a cursory overview of both issues which we will be dealing with in much more detail in future postings. Straw bales are naturally fire resistant. The dry straw that makes up the bale is very combustible when loose, but compressed in the form of...

A commentary in the recent edition of Fine Homebuilding Magazine's 'Energy-Smart Homes' (Winter 2013) points out the need for more homes designed and built with energy-efficiency and other sustainable principles that are within the reach of the average home owner. Residential designer and project manager Michael Maines explains the premise of the 'Pretty Good House', “It's about finding the sweet spot between initial cost and long-term savings, paying attention to critical details while maintaining ease of construction, providing energy-efficiency without ignoring...

Edmonton Journal - April 7, 2012 Dave and Carol moved into the home in April 2010. Before they found it, they’d been looking at lofts downtown. Parking was an issue. But neither of them wanted a “cookie-cutter” home. They wanted something unique. And they wanted to live centrally in an area with cultural amenities and/or mature trees. “I just didn’t want to have to drive the Henday to get anywhere,” says Caroline. Dave happened to see a discussion about straw-bale housing on a...