Could this innovative material be a big player in the future of green building?  Though a house made of straw may initially sound sketchy, U.K. based ModCell is creating straw bale cladding panels designed to make large-scale, carbon-negative building a commercial reality.


The ModCell system incorporates the excellent thermal insulation qualities of straw bale and hemp construction to form locally made, prefabricated panels.  The resulting structures are built utilizing renewable, locally sourced, carbon sequestering materials creating super-insulated, high-performance, low energy ‘passive’ buildings.  ModCell’s green building products are designed for use in:  offices, schools, residential housing and commercial buildings.


The prefab wall and roof cladding system is designed to be quickly installed and with little waste, creating airtight buildings with thermal performance up to three times higher than current building regulations require.  As a result, in certain climates ModCell buildings can have zero heat requirements — saving money, energy and CO2 emissions. 

The mold resistant panels are made from 100% renewable materials.  Panel frames are constructed using PEFC timber as standard and filled with locally sourced straw or hemp, (field crops).

Manufacturing waste is mitigated in a number of ways.  Waste straw is used as bedding for farm animals or recovered as biomass.  Frames are made using offcuts from the timber industry.  Cut materials from the frame manufacturing process are used in the factory’s biomass boiler.  Panels are precision cut using CNC equipment, further reducing waste.  Lime render is spray-applied, with almost no residual waste.  Offcuts of stainless steel, minimized by the design, are collected and recycled via the scrap industry.

Standard finishes include uncoloured lime render, pigmented lime render, lime wash colour finishes and timber cladding.  Pictured above is the BaleHaus@bath – a prototype home built on the University of Bath campus.  The prefab structure will be dismantled and moved to another location upon completion of the project.

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