Straw house wins eco award

A two-storey straw house in Wales has been awarded the title of Britain’s best eco home as part of Channel Four’s Grand Design Awards.

The first of its kind, ‘Penwhilwr’ was built by volunteers using all-natural materials, including walls made solely from stacked straw bales without a framework, on a hill overlooking the west Wales coastline.

The design aims to be fully self-sustainable with a zero carbon footprint. Electricity is generated on-site using a one-kilowatt FuturEnergy wind turbine and five 125-watt Kyocera solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. Combined, the wind and solar power provide sufficient all-year round electricity to cover all the building’s needs including running low-energy lights, laptop computers, sound system, pumps for the solar thermal system and underfloor heating and appliances including a washing machine.

All heating is provided by a biomass heating system fuelled by wood coppiced from the surrounding woodland, with hot water produced by a solar thermal heater. Natural spring water is supplemented by a rainwater harvesting system, and all waste including sewage is composted naturally on site.