The incentives citizens' project

This good practice example of Haute-Savoie shows the great possibility to use a construction site as a medium for advocacy, information and training for people.

First of all, the idea arose to build an energy efficient hosue with natural materials coming from the region of Haute-Savoie. The second intention was that the experience gained during the self-construction process was shared in order to spread the fact that building an energy efficient house would be feasible.

Wood, straw and clay have been chosen to meet these requirements. These are materials with a very low grey energy, and with interesting and constructive qualities ensuring an easy implementation suitable for self-construction and unskilled labor.

For sharing this experience, different phases of construction have been well identified and 3 participatory workshops were prepared and organised. - first the wooden frame, second the straw bales installation and third the earthen plasters. Local organisations have published and disseminated the information and asked for volunteers who wanted to learn more about the construction techniques. The same associations have organized visits and training sessions for which the building was used as support. After all, 18 trainees came to participate in the workshops.

Sharing the experience

Several newspapers and the local television have used the building to report about the self-construction with natural materials.

Local primary schools and technical high schools dedicated some of their lessons to the topic and came to visit the house, too.

Further, the local energy agency Prioriterre together with the city of Vaulx organized a half day training on energy efficiency importance and a visit to the unfinished building for the inhabitants.


Material / construction details

The structural frame of the house and the roof truss are made out of wood coming from Haute-Savoie forest. The straw filling the walls was grown in a close village. For coating plus protecting the straw walls and to create inertia, clay was used which derived from the foundation setting of the house.


What works best: the wooden and straw floor on which the calcic screed was poured without any thermal bridge. Solar inputs are very well captured and the ground is always warm without heating.

What works less: the soundproofing between the different floors of the house. A screed would have reinforced inertia which would have better cut the air sounds (voices, music) as well as sounds from the vibration on solid structure (for instance walking on the upper floor.)

Facts and figures

Location: Vaulx, Haute-Savoie, France
Surface: 160 m² utiles
Consumption: 60 kWh/m²/y (heating, hot water, ventilation, lighting only)
Heating: wood burning stove: 4 m³
Costs: 145,000 € (without field)
Grants: 12,000 € for thermic solar and photovoltaic electricity (16m²)

Wood: 40 m³ from HSA
Straw: 1100 straw bales from HSA
Earth: 30 m³ from the foundations

People: 120 different people worked on this construction.


Corresponding documents for download (PDF-files)