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Video: energy bill-slashing straw houses go on market

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The first straw houses available on the open market have been put up for sale

 

Seven new townhouses in Shire Hampton, Bristol, have been designed and built as part of an engineering research project led by the University of Bath.

The University released a video showcasing the energy-saving design which incorporates straw within the fabic of the walls. Following a three-year research project in partnership with architectural firm Modcell, the university has developed a factory built straw panel, which has recieved industry certification and is available for developers to use as part of their own projects.

The new homes are expected to save homeowners 90 per cent on their fuel bills comparted to a traditional brick-built house.

The BM TRADA’s Q-Mark certification guarantees a straw building’s energy efficiency, fire safety, durability and weather-resilience and means that developers and homebuyers can now get insurance and mortgages for straw homes and buildings.

Prof Pete Walker, who led the project, said: ‘The construction sector must reduce its energy consumption by 50 per cent and its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, so radical changes are needed to the way we approach house building.

‘As a construction material, straw is a low-cost and widely-available food co-product that offers real potential for ultra-low carbon housing throughout the UK.

“Building with straw could be a critical point in our trajectory towards a low-carbon future. It provides comfortable energy efficient buildings, it doesn’t deplete our natural resources.’

‘Over three years of research we’ve looked at a variety of different aspects of straw. Two problems which come to mind which leads to apprehension from people when considering using straw is the fire resistance and the durability and weather resistance.

‘We conducted a number of fire tests to test the fire resistance of straw construction and found it was actually better than many temporary forms of construction. In terms of durability we’ve conducted laboratorary tests and accelerating weathering tests which have shown that straw is a durable construction material.

The engineered timber-frame encloses an air-tight compressed straw bale infill. The straw walls aer approximately three-times more energy efficient than normal walls.

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