The IronStraw Group became active as a nonprofit in 1999 after five years of building strawbale homes in the private market. IronStraw relocated to "Straw Country" in central Washington State and partnered with the Washington Association of Wheat Growers and 85 other organizations and businesses in IronStraw's Partnership Program. Our goal is to make "Stronger Communities through Strawbale Building."
Awarded the prestigious Founders of a New Northwest award by Sustainable Northwest, the IronStraw Group is a compact, dynamic, and effective organization promoting sustainable building.
Why "Iron"? What does this name have to do with straw?
If you've ever seen a house built from bales of straw you know why we chose such an unusual name to describe our nonprofit. Hauling and then stacking 80 pound bales of tightly compressed straw creates a wall system that is so strong that you can literally run around on top of them. This begins to tell you the strength, the iron, which underlies this method of construction of strawbale homes.
Looking at the straw more closely, you see the fiber's strength, created by the chemical content and structure of each dead, hollow stem of grain. Straw is so indestructible that it has created huge disposal problems for the growers. Annually there are millions of tons of waste straw left over after harvest of the wheat, rice, barely, and other grains.
One of the ways growers dispose of their waste straw is by burning which is an environmentally disastrous solution. If you would like our Executive Director to come and make a presentation to your group about why strawbale building is an excellent alternative solution to field burning or other methods of disposal, please contact us.
IronStraw got its roots from the inherent strength that nature provides in straw and the solid walls created by the tightly compressed "building quality" bales we use to construct our buildings.
To us it makes so much sense. Use a locally grown, abundant waste product that no one has known quite what to do with and use it to make superior insulated (R40+) homes to begin meeting our nation's housing shortages. When you empower community organizations and groups of unskilled construction folks including local youth, through hands-on learning, to raise the walls of a home in a weekend you reduce the cost of building too. Create "Stronger Communities through Straw Building" and everyone wins.
For more information about why we choose to build with straw, please read the Benefits of Strawbale Building.
Our goals are centered in four major areas outlined below. For a more detailed description please read our Goals and Objectives. (Acrobat PDF file)
Create affordable, eco-friendly and energy efficient models of straw building.
Promote the use and acceptance of straw as a standard building material.
Achieve a more sustainable environment through straw building applications.
Empower youth to learn job skills and a healthy work ethic by building with straw.
IronStraw Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. IronStraw Group is passionate about its mission of Stronger Communities through Straw Building; the construction of low-income & affordable housing; and the education & promotion of straw as a standard building material including the development of Certified Contractors' Programs. Our mission also includes the Empowerment of Vulnerable Youth to learn job skills and a healthy work ethic; and the Support of our Environment through straw building applications.
IronStraw's Pioneering Achievements
Since becoming a nonprofit in 1999, IronStraw has pioneered strawbale building in the Northwest. We have many successes that we'd like to share with you. Read about our accomplishments. (Acrobat PDF file)
IronStraw believes that through our educational training programs the people of rural communities will be empowered to create their own affordable, sustainable shelter. Communities are strengthened and enriched by this simple, easy to learn process as 25 to 30 friends and neighbors join together for Wall-Raising Weekends to build homes. Rural economies are boosted by sustainable construction while growers have another solution for their waste straw.
Youth and adults alike are empowered through IronStraw's dynamic "Community Based Building" program. This is a hands-on educational experience where folks get to sling bales, learn how forgiving strawbale construction is and realize that "I can do this!" People love building together. IronStraw Group's techniques put building back into people's realm of ability. Low tech in many aspects, with simple tools, strawbale building is much like building with big 'Lego' blocks.
IronStraw Group Activities
For sustainable building technologies to be successful, they must be used. This requires increased public understanding, acceptance, and support of them. To accomplish our goals, IronStraw Group:
- Works with communities, neighborhoods and individuals, other organizations, educators and schools, governmental agencies, and businesses to promote sustainable development.
- Hosts public forums, conferences, and seminars.
- Conducts and supports research and testing of sustainable technologies, systems, and resource-efficient designs and construction techniques.
- Works to develop demonstration projects and prototypes.
- Publishes educational and informational materials.
IronStraw Group provides youth, disadvantaged, and rural populations with an opportunity to contribute to some of the most important challenges their communities face.