Earth and Straw Bale: An Investigation of Their Performance and Potential as Building Materials in New Zealand
Is there a future for ‘natural’ or ‘alternative’ building systems in New Zealand? Do they have a role to play in the quest for more sustainable housing solutions? These are the questions that underpin this thesis which looks at the state of earth and straw bale building in New Zealand at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, using the Nelson area as a case study. A database of all the earth and straw bale houses in the region has been compiled, followed by a written survey in the form of a questionnaire of 82% of the owners of these houses. Interviews with eleven experts and house owners provided additional information. This information, and that gleaned from a review of research carried out both in New Zealand and overseas has been collated and analysed to present an overview of the current situation. The way in which both earth and straw bale construction have changed over time is documented and the issues currently being faced for both systems are identified. The thesis concludes that there is a future for these natural building systems in New Zealand and identifies areas for further research that would help facilitate this.