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Material Focus: Straw Bales

When it comes to ecologically minded building materials, straw bales are among the kindest (they involve repurposing waste material from the grain growing industry). And lest you fear the outcome of the Three Little Pigs fairy tale, rest assured that when done correctly straw bale homes are structurally sound. Beginning with the "Gotta Bale" story from our October 2012 issue, and ending with an off the grid Bluff, Utah, project, we've rounded up five modern homes constructed from straw.

With about two dozen straw-bale buildings on their résumé, David Arkin and Anni Tilt found a balance between passive design strategies and the latest in green technologies for this Santa Cruz, California, home. “Straw is basically a waste material,” says Tilt. “Farmers used to burn rice straw, but now they’re baling it up to sell, which takes tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.” It’s also a stellar source of insulation, both thermal and acoustic.

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