Recently, Joe Trumpey and a group of students put the finishing touches on the first straw bale building on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. Besides the straw, many recycled materials were used for the structure. The wood used in the building was sourced from campus trees that were dead or dying.
“It’s very empowering for the students and it’s also empowering for me as an educator to have faith in the students that a group with very minimal skills at the beginning of a month can ratchet it up pretty quickly and be productive,” Trumpey says. “At the end of the month, they just literally stand around with smiles on their faces. It’s not unusual to see them laying on the floor looking up at the ceiling and go, wow, look at what we just did.”
The building will serve as an event space for the campus farm and as teaching model for sustainable construction methods. The building is completely off-the-grid, allowing students to ponder the production and consumption of energy and how both can be done more efficiently.
You can watch a short video about it at www.youtube.com