Five Acre School was the first modern commercial straw-bale building in Washington State. The building is timber-framed with straw-bale infill. After building the frame and roof, volunteers laid straw-bales from a local farm and then covered the walls with plaster. As the school grew the original building (the Discovery/Adventure Room) was expanded to include the Primary class, the Music Room and Explorer Room.
Maintenance on the building follows many of the same requirements as traditional buildings. Of particular importance is the measuring of moisture content inside the walls to insure low moisture and to prevent rot.
Properly maintained straw-bale buildings provide long-lasting solid structures that have high fire resistance, excellent sound and temperature insulation, and a cozy, natural environment.
Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw as structural elements, building insulation, or both. Research has shown that straw-bale construction is a sustainable method for building, from the standpoint of both materials and energy needed for heating and cooling.
Advantages of straw-bale construction over conventional building systems include the renewable nature of straw, cost, easy availability, naturally high fire-resistance and high insulation value. Disadvantages include susceptibility to rot, difficulty of obtaining insurance coverage, and high space requirements for the straw itself.