Straw Bale Cottage
The “biggest” sustainable feature of this home is its small size. It reduces its carbon footprint by minimizing its actual footprint. At 1,600 square feet, it is less than two-thirds the size of the average new home built today. Designed and built for a client who wished to downsize from her home in the city, this quaint country cottage features beautiful interior spaces while employing many green strategies.
The exterior walls made of straw bales are probably the most unique feature of the house. A byproduct of local wheat crops, the straw bale walls can provide an estimated insulation value of R-45 compared with standard 2 x 4 wall construction, which has an estimated value of R-13. In addition to the outstanding insulation properties, the stucco-covered straw bales also provide a unique aesthetic to both the exterior and interior of the house. The straw bale walls are not load bearing, therefore a timber frame structure provides support for the roof above. Since the structural system offered an opportunity for dramatic vaulted ceilings on the interior, spray-in polyurethane insulation was used in the roof, a much more efficient material and method than typical fiberglass insulation.
Solar collectors mounted to the south side of the detached garage provide domestic hot water along with radiant floor heat. In this system, water is heated by the solar collectors and piped through the concrete floors to provide heat for the house. The heated water is also used to provide hot water for domestic uses such as dishwashing and showering. A propane boiler provides a backup for cloudy days. The propane tank also provides fuel for the gas range in the kitchen. In addition to the active solar systems, passive solar strategies were used to minimize energy costs.
Deep window sills, exposed timber framing, stained concrete floors, and knotty pine woodwork combined with the many green strategies come together to give this cozy cottage a warm and earthy character.
Photo 2 - Vaulted living room with loft above
Photo 3 - Kitchen and dining room with concrete floors and post and beam framing above
Photo 4 - 2nd floor loft with overlook into living room below
Photo 5 - 2nd floor bedroom with vaulted ceiling
Photo 1 - Exterior view with solar panels on south side of detached garage