It's not every day you see straw bales piled up inside a new house under construction.
One new homeowner took an environmentally friendly approach to her designs. Alice McKaig, Owner said, "When I was a kid I would dream of a house with really thick walls like the castles." McKaig surfed the internet one day looking for her castle dream home and came across a green friendly idea. Katey Culver, Designer said, "We are looking at a straw bale house. What it really is, is a post and beam structure." A structure with no studs, no fiber glass insulation, just hundreds of bales of straw put together like legos.
Culver said, "One of the wonderful things about straw bale construction is we are using a by-product from our industrial agriculture methods, so this is a cereal grain." The leftover is often burned which becomes a high particulate pollutant. Culver said, "In some states its actually banned from burning. So we are using a by-product that would normally be in the waste stream and need to be dealt with, and we are putting it in a wall and we are making a very high insulated house." Culver went on to say that the straw bales provides three to four times more insulation than any conventional well built home.
After capturing the carbon within the straw bales, the builders use a lime base plaster over top of the straw bales. Culver said, "As that dries and cures its pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, and acts like a carbon sink. And for the entire life of this building, it will be mitigating the carbon in the air and it will be sucking it out and turning back into lime stone." The designers say that one to two million homes could be built using this method. The company's built more than forty straw homes in the southeast. That includes fifteen in Tennessee and north Georgia. Alice hopes to move into her dream home this spring.