Prefab Straw Panels

Rob Pyatt and Heather Kahn had a tiny cottage on a big lot in Nederland, outside of Boulder. I will confess that I did not pay much attention to it when it came out in Dwell a few years ago, having issues with the idea of a doubling of the size of a house in a distant suburb. But going from 900 to 1800 square feet is still small by American standards, and they have done some pretty amazing things, designing and building it themselves, that become clear when you watch the World’s Greenest Homes excerpt. It is built from one of our favorite materials, Agriboard, which we gave a best of show to at Greenbuild 2008. But it didn’t come up to Pyatt’s standards; he tells Sarah Rich in Dwell: “They didn’t have a thick enough panel for Colorado, so I worked with the engineers to make a prototype,” he recounts. “It’s 12 inches thick, with a higher R-value (resistance to heat)–more similar to straw bale. Our working model is an R-38, whereas the more popular six-inch is much lower.” The windows are superinsulated and carefully placed to maximize passive heating. Inside, materials are healthy and non-toxic. Sara writes: “In every instance where we had to make a decision on a product,” says Pyatt, “we would evaluate that product and look at alternatives and figure out how it would work from a conventional construction standpoint and how it would look for a new way of construction with prefab.” Read more…

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