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Straw Bale Building Details (PDF)
An Illustrated Guide for Design and Construction
Straw bale buildings promise superior insulation and flexibility across a range of design aesthetics, while using a typically local and abundant low embodied-energy material that sequesters carbon—an important part of mitigating climate change.
However, some early straw bale designs and construction methods resulted in buildings that failed to meet design goals for energy efficiency and durability. This led to improved building practices and a deeper understanding of the building science underlying this building system.
Distilling two decades of site-built straw bale design and construction experience, Straw Bale Building Details is an illustrated guide that covers:
- Principles and process of straw bale design and building, options, and alternatives
- Building science of straw bale wall systems
- How design impacts cost, building efficiency, and durability
- Avoiding costly mistakes and increasing construction efficiency
- Dozens of time-tested detailed drawings for straw bale wall assemblies, including foundations, windows and doors, and roofs.
Whether you're an architect, engineer, contractor, or owner-builder interested in making informed choices, Straw Bale Building Detailsis the indispensable guide to current practice in straw bale design and construction.
California Straw Building Association (CASBA) is a nonprofit organization of architects, engineers, contractors, and owner-builders dedicated to furthering the practice of straw building through research, testing, and documenting innovations in practical experience. Members have worked on hundreds of straw bale structures across a variety of architectural styles, climates, and seismic zones. CASBA is headquartered in Berkeley, CA.
"Straw Bale Building Details is an incredibly comprehensive explanation of how and why so many of us are utilizing this housing typology. I'm grateful to the authors of this book for coming together to publish the answers to our straw bale FAQs, and I am indebted to them for creating a text I plan to share with young, emerging professionals as well as experienced conventional builders. Sharing the details will surely lead to the growth of our industry."
Emily Niehaus, founder, Community Rebuilds
"This is the book I have been waiting for — the complete guide to straw bale construction. A remarkable group effort to bring lessons learned from architects, builders owner-builders together in one volume. Detailed illustrations and photos clearly show how it is done, and it's also excellent for working with building inspectors, banks, and insurance companies. For a more fire resistant, comfortable and efficient home — read this book."
David Bainbridge, sustainability consultant, co-author, The Straw Bale House
"Get this book, read it immediately. Co-created by some of the greatest ecoarchitects and builders who have ever lived, it is highly readable, comprehensive, and absolutely relevant to the immense challenges of our time. More, it will inspire every reader to see how we can engage small and large issues through the power of design, beauty, and inspired action."
Mark Lakeman, founder, communitecture, architecture and planning; and cofounder, City Repair and the Village Building Convergence
"Straw Bale Building Details is a must-have for anyone interested in building with bales. A collaboration of many experts, the book provides multiple options for building a high quality, long lasting straw bale structure with enough flexibility in design practice to allow for differing approaches to that same end. Whether you're a professional or owner-builder, Straw Bale Building Details will prove invaluable in the development of your dream straw bale home."
Andrew Morrison; Straw Bale Mentor/Consultant, StrawBale.com
"To anyone contemplating building with bales: Start here! CASBA's Straw Bale Building Details is an unparalleled resource, representing decades of cumulative wisdom from dozens of top architects, engineers and contractors. Much more than the title suggests, included are structural options and finishing details for varying climates, plus instruction on stacking bales, plastering walls, and even to how to hang up a picture. Attractive photos and illustrations offer inspiring aesthetic possibilities. Thank you, CASBA."
Catherine Wanek, author/photographer, The New Strawbale Home and The Hybrid House; former editor, The Last Straw Journal; and co-editor, The Art of Natural Building
"Years in the making and greatly anticipated, Straw Bale Building Details, was well worth the wait. The details are extensive, thoroughly and carefully described, illustrated, and explained—a tour de force. But what makes this book enormously more useful and beneficial is that those details are placed into their appropriate context, shifting wherever needed from the details to the bigger picture. This is a masterwork that belongs in the hands of anyone designing, building, or issuing permits for straw bale buildings."
David Eisenberg, director, Development Center for Appropriate Technology, and co-author, The Straw Bale House
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