Austin Murphy, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Amid booths featuring postmodern kitchen appliances and gleaming delivery systems for solar power, the table bearing the hay bales seemed a tad out of place.
Sorry, make that straw bales.
“Hay Is For Horses, Straw Is for Houses,” proclaimed the bumper sticker greeting visitors of the California Straw Building Association, one of most popular — and old school — of the 62 exhibits at Friday’s second annual Rebuild Green Expo, a showcase for all aspects of how to build “a healthy, low-carbon home.”
Another goal of the expo was to dispel myths about affordability and practicality of “rebuilding green,” said Ann Edminster, member of the Ecological Building Network, which organized the event.
The straw building association table sat in center of the exhibit hall at Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building facing the Pioneer Water Tanks station, across the aisle from the booth for Modular Lifestyles, whose 371- square-foot Tiny House on wheels was one of the event’s top crowd pleasers.
Homes built with plaster-coated straw bales apparently fared exceptionally well in the 2017 North Bay wildfires that were the impetus for this expo. The straw bales inside the plaster are so dense and compact that “it doesn’t burn very readily,” said the genial straw building associtaion rep, Jim Furness. “It would be like trying to light a telephone book on fire, if anyone remembers what a telephone book is.”
The Bay Area is a nerve center, an unofficial capitol of “the green building world,” said Bruce King, a structural engineer and the author of the book “Making Better Concrete.” After the North Bay fires, he recalled, “we were all calling each other, asking how we could influence the rebuilding that was coming.”