A group of researchers of the University of Bath is convinced that straw is a viable building material to build fuel-efficient and affordable houses.
Many technologies have promised these qualities, but few have been commercially viable. What’s been lacking is the performance data needed to demonstrate that these technologies are durable, genuinely environmentally beneficial, and suitable to be insured.
Over the past 13 years, the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering has led on research into straw as a low-impact building material and, has now culminated in crucial industry certifications.
The BM TRADA’s Q-Mark certification guarantees a straw building’s energy efficiency, fire safety, durability and weather-resilience and means that developers and homebuyers can now get insurance and mortgages for straw homes and buildings.
The prestigious Passivhaus accreditation recognises a building design’s energy efficiency, high-performance insulation and air quality.
Huge energy savings for residents
In Shirehampton, Bristol, seven new straw townhouses have just gone on sale in the open market.
The innovative straw walls in the new houses provide two times more insulation than required by current UK building regulations. Based on monitoring a residential straw-bale development in Leeds, fuel bill reductions up to 90% can be expected.
The walls have been built using ModCell technology; prefabricated panels consisting of a wooden structural frame infilled with straw bales or hemp and rendered with either a breathable lime-based system or ventilated timber or brick cladding.
This technology combines the lowest carbon footprint and the best operational CO² performance of any system of construction currently available. In fact, as an agricultural co-product, straw buildings can be carbon negative as straw absorbs CO² when it grows.