A Straw Bale Home Sets the Standard for Energy Efficiency and Fire Resistance

No amount of huffing or puffing will blow down the Fallgrens’ straw bale home in Campo, which is strong, energy-efficient, fire-resistant, and eco-friendly. That’s not all, admirers of the home also describe it as “elegant” and “comfortable.”

Homeowners Brian and Susan Fallgren, along with their builder/designer, Simple Construct, have been hailed as Energy Champions. They were among a dozen groups and organizations recognized at our 13th annual Energy Showcase awards ceremony for being the best of the best in energy efficiency, renewable energy and environmental sustainability.

Ancient and Yet Modern

While the Fallgrens’ home was built with ancient techniques, there is nothing primitive about it.

The 1,600-square-foot home is equipped with state-of-the-art features inside and out: solar panels, Energy Star-rated appliances (including an induction stove), LED lights, low-flow toilets, rainwater collection barrels, and a greywater system that diverts used water for plant irrigation.

The home’s two-feet thick walls – made of straw bales and covered in plaster – provide an exceptional level of insulation, so the temperature inside stays fairly consistent and comfortable, even when conditions outside fluctuate to extreme cold or heat. Brian Fallgren noted that even when the thermometer climbed to 100 degrees outside recently, it was around 73 degrees inside all day long.

As residents of the backcountry where wildfires are a year-round threat, the Fallgrens also appreciate the fact that their home has a high fire resistance rating of about two hours. Tightly compressed, straw bales have little oxygen inside them so they don’t burn easily.

“It’s an incredibly functional and comfortable home to live in, not just from an environmental standpoint but also everyday living standpoint,” said Susan Fallgren during a recent recorded interview with the East County Magazine.

The interview, which also featured Brian Fallgren and Simple Construct co-owner Rebecca Tasker, was aired on community radio station KNSJ. It’s also available as a podcast on East County Magazine’s website.

Check it Out in Person

The Fallgren’s home will be featured in the 2018 San Diego Green Homes Tour, organized by the San Diego Green Building Council. The tour is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, visit  https://www.sdgreenhomestour.org/.

For a virtual tour, watch this short video.