Straw Dogs

“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. With the guidance of structural engineer Kevin Donahue, Arkin Tilt, the couple, and a group of their friends and neighbors pitched in for a daylong “bale raising.” To minimize the straw’s volume within the walls (they used 150 bales), the architects tipped the bales on edge, placed them between structural wood I-joists used as posts, and finished them off with welded wire mesh and lime plaster.  Photo 3 of 8 in Green Zero-Energy Family Home in Santa Cruz