Did you know...
Tucson and Pima County has a building code specific to straw bale construction?
Straw bale construction uses baled straw from wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice and others in walls covered by stucco. Straw bale is a waste product which farmers do not till under the soil, but sell as animal bedding or landscape supply due to its durable nature. Unlike hay bales that are composed of short species of livestock feed grass that is green/alive and thus not suitable for this application. Hay is also typically twice the price of straw. This technique for constructing walls has been recently revived as a low cost alternative for building highly insulating walls. The technique was practiced in the plains states in the latter 1800's and early 1900's
Two basic styles of straw bale construction have been used: post and beam construction with straw bale infill, and structural straw bale construction or "Nebraska" style (the weight of the roof is supported by the bales).
Some advantages: Straw bale walls typically have insulation R values of R30-R45 or more.
The bales are covered with concrete mortar/stucco, achieving a high degree of fire resistance. Straw in straw bale structures has not shown evidence of termite infestations. Straw bale construction qualifies for HUD, USDA, and conventional home mortgages.
Straw bale construction is in use in Southwest United States, specifically: Red Feather educates and empowers American Indian nations to create sustainable solutions to the severe housing crisis within reservation communities. While focusing public attention on the intergenerational poverty and acute community development problems that plague American Indian reservations, Red Feather teaches affordable, replicable and sustainable approaches to home construction. Red Feather organizes volunteers, and, alongside tribal members, builds desperately needed homes. Check out their website for more info on straw bale:
For resources in Tucson: http://www.greenbuilder.com/dawn/And from the US Dept of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: