Bale development will slash costs
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Development
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has officially opened the first straw bale homes to be built by a housing association in Britain - with tenants set to see heating bills 85% cheaper than the average costs for similar homes of traditional construction.
Hastoe Housing Association has developed the two two-bed and two three-bed properties in partnership with Epping Forest District Council, at a site in High Ongar, Essex.
Built on council-owned land, the houses have already been let at affordable rents to families on the local housing register.
While the costs of construction are similar to costs of conventional construction, houses built using straw bales need almost no conventional heating due to their exceptionally high insulating properties.
As straw absorbs carbon dioxide as it is growing, it is widely accepted that buildings of this type have a low, zero or even negative carbon footprint. The high level of energy efficiency will reduce CO2 emissions by around 60%, compared to conventionally-built homes.
Eric Pickles said: “The High Ongar housing development is wonderful and such a remarkable move forward – in terms of what it delivers and its low energy consumption. I would like to congratulate all those involved as this is the kind of niche development that small communities really need. The High Ongar homes are not only beautiful but very important to the local community.”
Structural parts of the houses, such as the walls, have been built using timber frames, in-filled with the bales. The walls have been covered externally, with a lime render.
And tests on other bale structures by the University of Bath have established that they are strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds up to 120mph. They also have a fire rating at least double the requirements of building regulations.
Hastoe’s chief executive, Sue Chalkley, said: “The High Ongar straw bales scheme is an exemplar project. Hastoe is committed to providing affordable housing in rural areas for the benefit of local people.
“Sustainability is a key part of our approach and this is mirrored by Epping Forest District Council’s drive for highly energy efficient homes. We have been through an extensive design and planning process to ensure that the new homes will be a real benefit to the community.”