The First Straw Bale Building

Ramy Selim, Owner
Sunny Day Earth Solutions

Sunny Day Earth Solutions to Build the First Straw Bale Building in Twin Cities Since 1998

Sunny Day Earth Solutions, a local eco-business based out of the Como neighborhood in Minneapolis has recently been approved by the city to begin construction on a straw bale building; the first in the Twin Cities area since a previous unsuccessful attempt in 1998. The process of receiving approval from the city to begin construction was quite a challenge, considering the history of failed straw bale building structures in Minneapolis in the past. This time, however, owner Ramy Selim along with Mark Morgan (Bear Paws Design and Construction) and Lucas Alm (ALM Design and U of M Architecture Professor) have carefully researched and devised a realistic plan and design for the straw bale building which will serve Sunny Day as a green workshop space and as a demonstration of the ultimate potential for sustainable living.

Many people are hesitant about straw bale buildings for a variety of reasons, mostly due to misconceptions about mold and lack of fire resistance. However, according to Mark Morgan, “Straw bale, when properly designed and built, does not mold, and has a superior fire rating compared to other types of materials. And you can’t beat its energy efficiency.” Morgan is an experienced contractor with over 20 years of experience in sustainable building, and has overseen the construction of at least 50 straw bale structures in the region.

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), the University of Minnesota, and other institutions will be observing the structure and collecting data on the production feasibility as well as the efficiency and longevity of the building in and out of Minnesota winters. The results of this research could lead to an increase in straw bale building construction and influence sustainable practices throughout the rest of the Twin Cities area and the Midwest.

Aside from being structurally sustainable, the straw bale building will utilize passive solar, active solar and high mass, display LED lighting, and implement salvaged materials and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) lumber wherever needed. The expected completion of the straw bale building is fall of 2009.

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