STRAW BALE CONSTRUCTION This site includes links for general information on straw-bale construction, media, workshops, and projects. You'll also find a list of must-read books.

Building with straw bales is a sustainable method of building beautiful, natural structures that feel handmade. Straw is an under-utilized agricultural by-product of harvesting cereal grain. Most worldwide straw is burned in fields, causing air pollution. Baling the straw and using it for construction can reduce a major environmental problem. Plus, straw bales save energy. Straw has high insulation properties, and we have found that a properly constructed bale wall insulates far greater than any other material. A plaster finish usually covers the bales, providing a thermal mass that evens out indoor temperatures swings and lowers annual heating and cooling costs. When this method is combined with passive solar design, experienced passive solar architects call the total solution "the straw bale oven."

Straw-bale construction isn't ideal for every building. No material is perfect or without problems to solve, and no material is right for every design and climate. One of the advantages of straw bales is that they help save the environment. Shipping them great distances may defeat that advantage. Straw-bale homes are beautiful, but do not have the popular straight-line manufactured look. Straw bales are most effective when combined with other natural and manufactured building materials.

Straw-bale construction builds community. It attracts both unskilled and professional builders. It's an easy way for unskilled builders to learn to build their own homes, and for communities to offer projects and workshops. Straw-bale construction is a historical method that professional builders are just starting to re-learn. Instead of competing, builders have been collaborating on projects and sharing success and failure. We have found that people who try straw-bale construction tend to absorb and agree with the concept, and see it as a departure from the idea that industry is somehow more sophisticated than nature. The community that builds with straw bales will help build a sustainable future.

The straw-bale designer needs to understand how moisture affects proper detailing. The bales must stay dry from their harvest, through transportation, storage, construction, and final detailing, and throughout the life of the building. Meanwhile, vapor must be allowed to flow in and out of the final assembly. The building also needs a good foundation and a roof with deep overhangs. Sun, wind, rain, and snow are important factors in roof design, window placement, and detailing. Regional climate is also important. Designs for the hot and dry Southwest must differ from designs for the wet and cold Northwest.

When people build with straw bales, the process and materials enhance their souls. The spaces they create enhance the souls of others and the world. 
Explore, learn, and express!






  • The New Straw Bale House
    Catherine Wanek, (Gibbs Smith, 2003).
  • The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes, 
    Athena & Bill Steen, (Chelsea Green 2000).
  • Serious Straw Bale 
    Paul Lacinski & Michel Bergeron, (Chelsea Green 2002).
  • The Straw Bale House
    Athena & Bill Steen. David Bainbridge with David Eisenberg, (Chelsea Green 1994).
  • Build it with Bales - A step by step guide to Straw Bale Construction
    Matts Myhrman & S.O. MacDonald, (Out on Bale 1997 2nd edition).

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