Written by Preston Koerner | Jetson Green
Modcell, a company in the UK that makes prefabricated panels from straw and hemp, this year completed a two-story straw bale home on the campus of the University of Bath. The home, referred to as Balehaus@Bath, was designed by White Design. Over a year, the Balehaus will be monitored in thirty-second increments with 12 sensors inside and 66 sensor in the walls, measuring such things as thermal performance, acoustics, air tightness, and relative humidity.
The panels made by Modcell were assembled with renewable, non-toxic straw from a local farm filled in a wooden structural frame. They're 3.0 x 2.9 m and the walls are 490 mm thick.
As a result, the BaleHaus is extremely low energy -- efficient enough to meet the PassivHaus standard, although it has not received the same certification.
According to Footprint, a blog of the Architects' Journal, the estimated build cost of an 86 m2 house is £130,000. By U.S. standards at today's exchange rate, that's about $214,000 for 926 square feet.
Researchers at the University of Bath determined to experiment with straw because it can be grown locally and absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows. Thus, buildings made from straw can have a smaller footprint than those built with other materials.
Photo credits: Modcell.