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Green Building News

A Near-Zero-Energy House In Upstate New York

CUSTOM COLUMNS SUPPORT NY STRAW-BALE HOUSE. Carrie Zaenglein's straw-bale house has an unusual structural frame made from custom-ordered SIP columns with a cross-section of 4.5 in. by 14 in.
Image Credit: Carrie Zaenglein

The engineered frame has custom-made SIP columns

DEPEW, NY — Builder David Lanfear is completing work on a 1,300-square-foot straw-bale house designed to approach net-zero-energy performance. Topped with a 10-inch-thick SIP roof, the home includes a 2-kW photovoltaic array and an eight-tube evacuated-tube solar collector connected to an 80-gallon solar storage tank. “We’re using a lot of used and reclaimed lumber and we’re not using adhesives with VOCs,” said homeowner Carrie Zaenglein. “We’re trying to do everything as green as possible.”

The home has an unusual post-and-beam framework with custom-made SIP columns that are as wide as a straw bale (14 inches) but only 4 1/2 inches thick; the SIP posts are infilled with bales of straw. “We’ll be plastering right onto the straw bales with local clay, gathered on site,” said Lanfear. For more information, visit


  1. Riversong | | #1


    I like the innovation, but I'm sorry to see that you appear to be using foam-filled OSB "studs" in an otherwise natural home.

    What are those "SIPs" made from?

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    Custom-ordered SIP columns
    The custom-ordered SIP columns are OSB-faced EPS, as far as I know, and are engineered for the required loads.

    if you want more information, you can contact David Lanfear by e-mail:
    david [at] baleonbale [dot] com

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