Straw bale buildings provide significant benefits in terms of costs, human health, and environmental sustainability. Several studies in different regions have underlined the remarkable properties of straw bales as insulating and construction material; however, to the authors’ knowledge, there are no reviews published on this topic. The main objective of this paper is to provide a better understanding of straw bale systems, focusing on durability and thermal and acoustic insulation properties. To this end, previous tests and studies on straw bale buildings around the world were reviewed, comparing their results, assessing where research currently stands, and identifying the aspects that need to be further investigated. Results from previous tests have highlighted their ability to achieve excellent living comfort and encouraged their use. Guidelines for the characteristics to be achieved during the baling process are now required. Combining straw bale walls with a render or any type of high-density layer can improve both the thermal and acoustic properties of straw bale constructions.
Finally, a quantitative assessment of the most significant properties, such as thermal resistance and acoustic insulation, is necessary to reduce the gap between straw bales and traditional building materials.
Authors: Cascone, Stefano; Rapisarda, Renata; Cascone, Dario