StrawJet Transforms Straw Waste Into Building Beams

by , 09/14/09

sustainable design, green design, building materials, renewable materials, straw architecture, Strawjet

StrawJet, of Ashland, Oregon, has developed a unique process for the creation of structural building components from a variety of waste agricultural stalks. Essentially, they have created a machine that takes waste stalks and creates a tightly wrapped beam which can then be applied to many different facets of construction. The cables are made and wrapped without glues, resins or chemicals and are made completely from waste material. As long as we are growing food there will be straw, so why not use it creatively?

sustainable design, green design, building materials, renewable materials, straw architecture, Strawjet

Buildings made from straw are beautiful, insulating and can be found all over the world, but they are typically made of straw bales or straw panels. This new application of straw is sure to push the boundaries further and may help with the many bureaucratic issues that come with natural building in areas under the jurisdiction of archaic building codes. StrawJet recently began working with CASBA (California Straw Building Association) and SOAIA (Southern Oregon American Institute of Architects) on interior infill wall applications for homes and commercial spaces and is sure to be a prominent player in the future of straw building.

One major component of StrawJet is that they really are serious about sustainability across the board. One of their first implementations of the technology was in the West African country of Malawi. StrawJet was able to create tobacco drying sheds from waste stalks of the tobacco plants, eliminating the need for the illegal deforestation that has decimated the local forests (to the tune of 33,000 hectares annually).

The use of StrawJet has the potential to curb carbon usage from deforestation by upwards of 10% as well as eliminate the current practice of burning waste stalks. In an area that is so dependent on its natural resources, it is important that environmental problems be addressed responsibly. They have even created a version of their multi-wrapper machine that can be powered by pedal for operation away from the grid.

Check out the StrawJet system here, or how it can be used as infill in a curved wall.

+ Strawjet

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  1. Charla June 1, 2011 at 10:28 am

    IMHO you’ve got the right awnser!

  2. Satch May 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    That’s way more ceevlr than I was expecting. Thanks!

  3. Trey Farmer September 15, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    A couple points:

    Deforestation does happen in the US, but it is much worse in Canada, China, and Brazil, where American building materials come from, that is why it is so cheap for us to buy (kinda like buying a radio for 3.99 that clearly costs more than that to make assemble, ship and sell).

    This is one of the most promising new technologies in natural building. It uses a waste product that would either be burned or turned under (rice straw is a huge issue because it takes multiple growing seasons to decompose and new laws prohibit burning for obvious reasons). As the article states, anywhere we are growing food, there will be straw. Agro forestry has its own pile of issues that has led RAN and other more stringent groups to question even FSC wood (the current sustainably gold standard used as the baseline in LEED) due to a small incestuous self regulating timber industry, and the fact that timber farms are hardly the burgeoning ecosystems many people believe they are.

    A bunch of trees is not necessarily a forest.

  4. Gogmagog September 15, 2009 at 3:15 am

    This is silly. The building material that this replaces is wood and fiber glass. You can’t get more renewable than trees and sand. Straw bale construction is fine for fire resistance, but this is long tubes of straw. You can’t get enough compaction to prevent oxygen. Straw in the fields doesn’t go to waste, it gets plowed under before planting to enrich the soil with organic matter.

    Deforestation for building material doesn’t happen in the US, because you can get farmed wood so cheaply. Farmed trees are easy to grow, easy to harvest, and can be done on land that is unsuited for farming food. The biggest cause of permanent deforestation in the US, is clearing for homes and building… Something this won’t help. In other countries, and climate suitable for wheat growing is suitable for tree farming.

    Just because it is renewable, doesn’t mean it is smart.

  5. michellev September 14, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Great article on straw waste as a sustainable building material.

    I’ve heard of traw-bale used for insulation because it is a less expensive, widely available, durable, and high in value. But there are many different ways to use this mateiral. Not only is straw bale construction three times more efficient than traditional methods, but it can save a homeowner up to 75% in energy costs. Additional benefits include, superior sound insulation, resistant to fire (because of their compact rows they contain very little oxygen), won’t decompose (as long as construction is done properly without intrusion of water), and does not off gas. Buildings that have used straw-bale are also very durable, able to resist shattering earthquakes and violent winds. (

    By diverting straw to construction and insulation we could avoid tons of CO2 emissions yearly by just building green!

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