Durability characteristics of straw bales in building envelopes

Written by esba

Cereal straw, including wheat, barley and rice, offers a renewable and sustainable resource stream for a variety of construction products, including compressed board panels, thatched roofing and bales. The successful use of straw bales as thermal insulation within the external envelope of buildings has been demonstrated by the increasing number of successful contemporary projects around the world. However, the warranty, insurance and financing of such projects are often still not as straightforward as competing solutions, which can be attributed to concerns relating to the long-term durability of the straw.

This paper presents findings from an ongoing experimental study into the condition monitoring of modern straw bale construction, and also reports on a study investigating the degradation behaviour of wheat straw cyclically exposed to elevated humidity levels. The findings of the study provide encouraging insight into the robustness of straw bale construction.


  1. Thomson, Andrew
  2. Walker, Pete


About the author


The European Straw Building Association is an independent European association, devoid of any profit making motive. The object of the Association is to promote and develop the use of straw, as a sustainable way of building in all the senses of the term “sustainable”: renewable, ecological, healthy, energy and climate efficient, social and economic.
The Association is a federation composed of organisations and people particularly concerned with the use of straw in buildings.