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Green real estate trend spotting – homes built with straw?

Stunning straw bale home, image from

Stunning straw bale home, image from

Maybe the First Little Pig wasn’t so dumb after all

This fall I have had the privilege of working with some of Nashville’s most exciting visionaries in planning and hosting Nashville’s first annual Green Homes Tour. While I am happy to discuss with anyone the process of creating this event, what rocked my world was seeing some awesome alternative building materials at work in terms of livability and function. One of the homes on our tour had an addition that was constructed using straw bale and it was by far one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time.

The general concept behind straw bale construction is that when it is compressed together it has amazingly high durability and insulation values. In addition, it’s a rapidly renewing resource that does not need to be manufactured as opposed to any other form of insulation. It can be both load bearing or simply used within the framing and I would suspect here in the US you will find it mostly within framing.

Because it is compressed so tightly prior to sealing it, meaning there is very little oxygen or moisture, it’s actually very flame and wind resistant (think of trying to burn a phone book as opposed to individual sheets of paper). Here is a great FAQ page on straw bale construction and below are some pictures of the house I was in:

The owners created a small observation window in one of the rooms so that you could see and feel the straw.  It actually looked really cool as well.

This is room is completely encapsulated with straw bale and I think the thing that stood out to me is that not only was there no paint or drywall smell but the air smelled and felt fresh. 

As you can see the walls are very thick and have a wonderful kind of undulation to them.  These were covered with American Clay Natural Plaster that gave them some slight texture and they opted for a very light color.

The straw did not inhibit them in incorporating unique and modern design elements

Day lighting was also incorporated in to the design which not only cut down on electricity consumption but added to the very natural and airy feel.

As more and more alternative building materials find their way in to custom homes which will  eventually find their way to the market, it’s probably wise to familiarize yourself with them in terms of pros and cons. I feel that it is one of the most important parts of a Realtor’s job is to empower your clients to make informed decisions and I intend to do a series on alternative building materials to help do just that.

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Written By

Anna Altic – Village Real Estate Services. I’ve called Nashville home for the last 15 years and have been practicing (practice being the key word here) real estate for just over 6 years. In the fall of 2007, I went to a local German Festival that had a home tour, including a LEED certified property, and I instantly became enamored with the idea of eco friendly living (ok, so I’d had a little beer and the dual flush toilet rocked my world). I have since devoted much of my time and energies in to studying and espousing the benefits of better building technology within our local residential market and my proudest accomplishment thus far has been successfully leading the initiative to get over 25 green features added to our MLS search fields.



  1. Elizabeth Colton walls

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Love this home! So sorry I missed the Green Homes Tour earlier this month!

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