Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

Straw (bale) homes: ‘The Three Little Pigs’ is rubbish!

Canadian Contractor

russian-straw-bale-01Editor’s Note: OK, another article on straw bale homes. So get all your “Three Little Pigs” jokes ready! Fact is, Canadian Contractor has been a fan of straw bale construction since we first saw it being done by Ben Polley, Harvest Homes (now Evolve Builders Group), some 15 years ago…

They’re called straw bale homes and they are not new. Straw homes made their North American debut at the turn of last century – in Nebraska, where straw was in plentiful supply. One of the most hurricane-plagued areas in the world, these Nebraska straw homes did NOT get blown down.

Then in the early 1980’s, Quebec builders experimented with baled fiber construction. The CMHC (Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation) info researched the insulating performance of these dwellings, and were impressed. They determined that these straw bale walls had an R-value of 35, nearly twice that of a conventional stud wall. Even more impressive, tests gave the stucco plastered bales a two hour fire rating which is the equivalent to the requirement for commercial buildings.

                                                              (Peep hole window by Evolve Building Group) 


straw-bale-truth-window Horshoe Valley OntarioGreen is gathering speed. When Canadian Contractor pulled together 32 contractors from across the country for its RenoFocus round table sessions in early December, one of the first contractors they thought to invite was Ben Polley. Ben is one of Canada’s most renowned green (he prefers the term ‘alternative’) builders. His firm, Evolve Builders Group, Guelph, Ontario, was a recipient of the one of the International Top 10 Green Architecture awards.

Offering Green building solutions can easily set you apart from the pack.

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