I n the late 1800’s, settlers in the Nebraska Sandhills region of the USA (an area with no trees and soil too sandy for sod walls) were forced to get creative in sourcing building materials for their homes. The arrival of the modern, mechanical baling machine made many things possible, including the invention of the straw-bale wall system. Covering the outside and inside of the bales with plaster (stucco) protected the bales and improved their air-tightness. Residents soon realized the high level of comfort the walls provided. Word spread, and many straw-bale buildings were built throughout the region and the world, including the Pilgrim Holiness Church in Arthur, NE (built 1928, pictured) and the ‘Maison Feuillette’ in France (built 1921), both of which are still standing today.
By the 1940’s, the mass-production of cement and oil-based building materials provided an affordable, attractive housing “package” that’s still common today. Many of these homes strived to recreate the durability of natural materials like stone, but used unchecked quantities of energy-intensive, toxic ingredients. Environmental awareness in the 1970’s and 80’s led to a modern resurgence of straw-bale construction in the USA and worldwide. Today, there are straw-bale homes in all 50 states in the USA, and over 100 in Colorado alone. The introduction of Appendices S and R in the 2015 International Residential Code has further supported and encouraged the growth of straw-bale construction.
C OSBA began in 2000 to address the growing need for public understanding of straw-bale construction in Colorado and the surrounding region. We have held education workshops and annual conferences throughout the state that include keynote speakers, panel discussions, and local straw-built home tours. In 2012, COSBA hosted the extremely successful International Straw Building Conference in Estes Park, CO. We continue to promote the awareness of straw and all other natural building materials. COSBA has held 501(c)(3) status since 2003.
COSBA is committed to expanding and sharing knowledge, experience, and techniques for strawbale and sustainable building. COSBA promotes quality building practices and serves as a resource to building professionals and homeowners.
COSBA envisions a future where natural, non-toxic, low embodied-energy building materials are widely respected, understood & even preferred by the entire construction industry, including designers, builders, insurance companies, governments, code officials & the general public.