Casa Calida is a Belgian organisation that promotes strawbale housing, one of the most sustainable housing types. Straw is a waste material from agriculture and it can be used for floors, walls and roofing. It is used both as isolation as well as building material. Casa Calida has built an expertise on strawbale house construction methods and promotes dissemination of this knowledge to a wider audience.
In construction of houses it is used in combination with a wooden skeleton, but single-storey bulidings can be built just out of strawbales. A plaster coating makes the house waterproof.
Worldwide there are many examples of strawbale houses that are over a hundred years old. In fact these houses are still being inhabited. Strawbale housing became popular in the United States in 1980s and in Europe since the mid 1990s. The technique has been constantly tested and improved. People who live in strawbale houses are very satisfied with the durability, energy savings, and healthy living environment.
Casa Calida has built an expertise on strawbale house construction methods and promotes dissemination of this knowledge to a wider audience. It does this through workshops, fairs, and offering lodging in a strawbale guesthouse located in Tongeren, Limburg province of Belgium. The experience has been picked up by a number of enthusiasts in Belgium and the Netherlands who also managed to construct their own sustainable houses.
Barriers and Drivers
The modern strawbale house projects have been mainly driven by the enthousiasm of some people
The main barriers:
- legistative procedures (e.g. for building permits, funding) and are far more bureaucratic than for traditional housing project
- lack of technical expertise related to building
- misconceptions and lack of information prevents from wider diffusion of these type of houses
- being a more energy efficient (or even passive) house it saves on running cost
- the construction method is mostly based on manual labour which can creat more jobs in comparison to traditional house building
- family and friends are oftent involved in the project
- using agriculture waste material
- using local resources, which allows avoidace of transporattion and associated
- exclusion of material and energy intensive industrial processes (and associated emissions and waste) in the value chain of strawbale houses
- higher energy efficiency and lower carbon intensity during the house exploitation
- healthy indoors environment