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Promotion of Straw Bale Building for the Climate Change Mitigation

Heated buildingsBuildings commit a tremendous impact on environment in all life cycle stages. It results to different problems and most significant influence on climate change because of energy use producing building materials, building, maintenance and demolition of buildings.

Building impact on environment can be significantly reduced.

Whitefield project by PetrasStraw bale building technology was created more than 100 years ago, and first buildings still exist. This is very ecological way of building: communities could grow the building material during one year and to build the house during one month.

Straw bale buildings have very good insulation, so use less energy during heating period. This method to build is very popular in USA, Canada, Scandinavia, UK, Austria and other countries.

Aims and results

 Project Promotion of Straw Bale Construction for Climate Change Mitigation started in December 2006, with a view to introduce Lithuanian society to an environmentally friendly method of building construction, namely, straw bale construction technology. Concerned about the impact of construction work on carbon emissions – accelerating climate change, we started implementing an educational project, sponsored by the UNDP Global Environment Facility's Small Grants Program, the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, the British Embassy and the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania. 

The project participates in the EU campaign Sustainable Energy for Europe. Since May 2007, it has become an international project, joined by Latvia, Estonia and Denmark. By this project, we seek to reduce our society’s contribution to anthropogenic climate change and to build the capacity for various organizations and individuals to improve their well being and economic conditions.

Activity that has continued for one and a half year proved that the project was implemented at the right time; that people are really interested in environmentally friendly straw bale construction, and that information we gather and disseminate is necessary inside and outside Lithuania. Seminars held (10 in total) have attracted nearly 1000 participants; many project articles were published in The Green Lithuania, Architecture-Planning-Construction magazine and scientific journals; reports were delivered during international events, such as North Sun 2007 and the European Gathering of Straw Bale Builders. The topic has generated a lot of interest in the popular Lithuanian media, and there have been a number of radio shows and TV programs.

Outcomes of the project were development of national cooperation network, registration of the Straw Bale House Builders’ Association, formation of Baltic Straw Bale House Builders’ Network, and establishment of communication and cooperation with straw bale house builders worldwide (Great Britain, Denmark, Belarus, USA, Austria, Belgium, Germany, etc.).
More than 100 representatives of rural communities participated in the project survey. Many of them showed interest in the topic researched. Eičiūnai rural community assisted in organising a seminar in April 2007. Some communities submitted applications for straw bale house construction funding, and one of them, Upytė community, started building a linen crafts and community centre (Project Development of Rural Entrepreneurship through Promotion of Linen Crafts and Straw Bale Construction in Upytė, sponsored by UNDP GEF SGP and Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania). 

Project workshop in Estonia included teaching both: the skills and specific technique of building with big straw bales, as well as the ways of cooperating and workshop organizing. The event took place in October 8-12, 2007 in Esna, Estonia, with 18 representatives from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Denmark. The workshop was organised by the NGO Ecoton. The lecturer was straw bale building specialist Lars Keller from Denmark. The workshop commenced with theoretical lectures, followed by a three-day practice period, and on the last day – a trip to Estonian straw bale houses. During the three-day practice period, the project of educational meditation cottage Sunset Dome was revised, its foundations laid, ring beams made, straw walls set up, and green roof structures prepared. Dimensions of bales used for building walls were 120x70x220 cm. The workshop in Esna was the first meeting of Baltic’s Straw Bale Builders Network. It was generally agreed to pursue this initiative, and to organise an annual convention and workshop of straw bale house builders in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, so as to share modern knowledge and experience. 2nd Gathering of Baltic’s Straw Bale Builders Network was organized in Lithuania 27-29 June, 2008. It was the last event of the project “Promotion of Straw Bale Building for the Climate Change Mitigation”. It included theoretical and practical part, so it was the switch from theoretical seminars to practical workshops.

The book Straw Bale Houses and DVD Construction of Straw Bale Houses are the result of successful national and international cooperation. The purpose of the book Straw Bale Houses is to inform about buildings’ impact on environment, natural building materials, straw bale construction methods, and to inspire the reader to look for further information also creatively design healthy and harmonious living or working environment. We hope, the book and DVD will inspire people for practical implementation of sustainable building solutions.

Sustainable Energy Europe         

      Project sponsors


UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme

    Small Grants Program

   LR Ministry for Environment

        British Embassy Vilnius


The Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania