Dutch developer Ballast Nedam is turning to straw in its efforts to find new ways of making homes both more energy efficient and better for the environment.
Straw, which would be burnt or used as bedding for animals, will be used as insulation material in a terrace of eight new homes being built in traditional Dutch style in Heeze, near Eindhoven next year.
The homes will be more than 90% bio-based and will be energy positive, meaning they will supply more electricity back to the grid than they use, Ballast Nedam says. They will also absorb some 90 tonnes of CO2.
The idea was to create the most energy efficient and sustainable house we could, says spokeswoman Rosa Bos. ‘We held a competition to look for the best ideas and people came up with houses made with cork, or with lots of wood and even flax, but the one using straw came out best.’
The straw itself, which has excellent insulation properties, will come from a company in Lithuania, which has been working with the waste product for some time.
‘We really believe this is a good way forward,’ says Bos. ‘It is a traditional building material and sometimes we have to go back to basics and look at the materials which are already there.’
New techniques are being used to process the straw into prefabricated panels and it is, says Bos, a quality material to build with. ‘Building sustainably is not just about energy efficiency, but about making sure the materials you build with are as sustainable as possible as well.’
Straw is not the only 100% natural product which is being incorporated into modern housing in an effort to improve sustainability and energy efficiency.
Mycelium, the the underground fungal network of mushrooms, is also being used in construction when mixed with fibres such as flax to create light but very strong building panels.
Eindhoven is also home to Europe’s first fully 3D printed house, which has been built out of layers of concrete.
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