Some see animal bedding. We see an end to fuel poverty.

“Cheaper to buy than existing similar conventional brick built homes in the area, and with significantly increased insulation, we proved that building with straw can help to address the housing crisis in the UK and enable occupants to live a better quality of life through the additional disposable income they will have as a result of cheaper energy bills.”

Professor Pete Walker, Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering

Over the past ten years, Professor Pete Walker has been developing an understanding of the benefits of straw to prove what an eco-friendly, sustainable and, more importantly, safe building material it is.

His collaboration with a local design company led to the development of prefabricated straw bale cladding panels which proved that straw was more than a match for bricks. In rigorous tests, the panels withstood heavy rain and extreme temperatures.

Funding from the UK government and EU followed, along with a BM Trada’s Q mark certification, which recognises quality and allows home buyers to get mortgages and insurance for straw buildings. The design of the panels was also recently awarded the prestigious PassivHaus accreditation.

In February 2015, the UK’s first straw eco homes went on sale in Bristol. Their compressed straw bale insulation, along with triple glazed windows, is anticipated to reduce owners’ fuel bills by as much as 90 per cent.

But the benefits go far beyond fuel bills. Concrete is the second most consumed substance after water, with cement production accounting for around 5 per cent of the world’s industrial CO 2 emissions. Because straw absorbs CO2 as it grows, straw homes have one of the lowest carbon footprints available, with many buildings being net carbon-negative.

Related links

Find out more about Pete Walker

Straw scientifically proven as viable building material

BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials