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 The Last Straw -
 The International  Journal of Straw  Bale and Natural  Building

- Promoting natural building, and sustainable design and development, through research, training, education and consulting services.

Track 2: Building Code-approved Straw Bale Housing
The primary resources used in the Global certification program are: Builders Without Borders Straw-Bale Construction Facilitators Guide by Dr. Owen Geiger and Katia LeMone, Build it With Bales, Version Two by Matts Myhrman and S.O. MacDonald, More Straw Bale Building: A Complete Guide to Designing and Building with Straw, by Chris Magwood, Peter Mack and Tina Therrien, Alternative Construction: Contemporary Natural Building Methods edited by Lynne Elizabeth and Cassandra Adams, The Straw Bale House by Steen et al., The Last Straw Journal on CD-ROM, and the Sustainable Building Electronic Directory at the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building at

The 13 Modules in the GLOBAL certification program for the Building Code-approved Strawbale Housing Track are outlined below:

Module 1: Introduction to Straw-Bale Construction

Primary objectives: In addition to assignments that cover the basics of strawbale, students build a strawbale emergency shelter to gain hands-on knowledge of straw-bale construction.

Required resources: Strawbale Emergency Shelter Plans by Matts Myhrman, Judy Knox and Dr. Owen Geiger.

Recommended resources: Emergency Strawbale Shelter video by Matts Myhrman, The Straw Bale Solution video by Catherine Wanek, House of Straw – Straw Bale Construction Comes of Age.

Module 2: Overview of Natural Building

Primary objectives: Students are exposed to a wide range of natural building methods frequently used by strawbale builders.

Required resources: The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources edited by Joseph F. Kennedy, Michael G. Smith and Catherine Wanek.

Recommended resources: A Sampler of Alternative Homes video by Kelly Hart, The Natural House: A Complete Guide to Healthy, Energy-Efficient, Environmental Homes by Daniel D. Chiras.

Module 3: Basic Design Considerations

Primary objectives: Site selection, designing for basic human needs, passive solar design and other design considerations are introduced.

Required resources: (Refer to the list of primary resources.)

Module 4: Strawbale Testing and the Building Codes

Primary objectives: Strawbale structural test results are examined, in addition to coverage of ICC and ICBO building code requirements for alternative construction.

Required resources: Building Official’s Guide to Straw Bale Construction Version 2.1 edited by Kelly Lerner and Pamela Wadsworth Goode, International Code Council code book:

Recommended resources: Straw-Bale Code Testing video by Catherine Wanek, Straw Bale Construction and the Building Codes by David Eisenberg.

Module 5: Foundations

Primary objectives: Foundation options for strawbale buildings are introduced.

Required resources: (Refer to the list of primary resources)

Module 6: Straw Bale Walls – Load-bearing Method

Primary objectives: Students learn all aspects of load-bearing straw-bale wall systems.

Required resources: (Refer to the list of primary resources.)

Recommended resources: Volume 2: A Straw-Bale Home Tour by Catherine Wanek.

Module 7: Straw Bale Walls – Post and Beam (Infill) Method

Primary objectives: Students are introduced to a variety of post and beam wall systems and obtain a working knowledge of how these building systems relate to straw-bale construction.

Required resources: (Refer to the list of primary resources.)

Recommended resources: Timber Framing for the Rest of Us: A Guide to Contemporary Post and Beam Construction by Rob Roy.

Module 8: Doors, Windows, Interior Walls and Floors

Primary objectives: Students are introduced to fundamental techniques of installing doors, windows and interior walls in strawbale houses, as well as several low-cost flooring systems.

Required resources: (Refer to the list of primary resources.)

Recommended resources: Earthen Floors by Athena and Bill Steen.

Module 9: Roof Construction

Primary objectives: Students learn fundamental roof design and construction techniques that can be applied to strawbale structures.

Recommended resources: Roofing: Design Criteria, Options, Selection by R.D. Herbert III.

Module 10: Plastering and Finishing Details

Primary objectives: This module covers the basics of earth and lime plasters, as well as built-in furniture and other finishing details.

Required resources: The Natural Plaster Book: Earth, Lime and Gypsum Plasters for Natural Homes by Cedar Rose Guelberth and Dan Chiras.

Recommended resources: Earth Plasters for Straw Bale Homes by Keely Meagan, All About Lime.

Module 11: Capstone Project – Phase I

Primary objectives: This is the final project of the program that demonstrates mastery of essential skills. Students design and build a functional strawbale structure of approximately 150 – 200 sq. ft. interior space, such as a guesthouse, studio, office, homeless shelter or other similar structure. Phase I includes creating a project proposal, floor plan, cost estimate and schedule.

Required resources: A Shelter Sketchbook: Timeless Building Solutions by John Taylor.

Recommended resources: Estimating Home Building Costs by W. P. Jackson, A Pattern Language and The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander.

Module 12: Capstone Project – Phase II

Primary objectives: This phase includes creating a site plan and site analysis, foundation plan, wall section, at least one elevation drawing and a detailed list of materials.

Required resources: Straw Bale Details: A Manual for Designers and Builders by Chris Magwood and Chris Walker.

Recommended resources: The Beauty of Straw Bale Homes by Athena and Bill Steen.

Module 13: Capstone Project – Phase III

Primary objectives: The final phase of the capstone project includes the construction of the strawbale structure designed in Phase I and II. In addition to building the structure, students must submit a final report summarizing the results and lessons learned, along with photos and signed affidavits by approved parties.

Required resources: (Refer to the list of primary resources.)

Recommended resources: The New Strawbale Home by Catherine Wanek.

To register for this certification program, click on Straw Bale Certification Registration.

Crestone, Colorado 81131 Email: Contact Information