House of straw: A new face of sustainability on campus


What can a house made of straw bales teach us about sustainability?

A University of Michigan class recently completed one—Ann Arbor’s first student-built, off-the-grid structure on campus—to bring awareness to natural building, local food and sustainable living.

Completed building made entirely of straw bales

Despite some rain delays, University of Michigan students, led by Joe Trumpey, an associate professor at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, recently completed the straw bale building at the U-M Campus Farm at the Matthaei Botanical Garden.

Six students mixing adobe, wearing multicolored safety helmets.

Students with Joe Trumpey’s Green Building class mix adobe for the straw bale building they built on the U-M Campus Farm at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Trumpey is an associate professor at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.

Man sitting in excavator converses with another man digging in a hole that has been dug nearby

Class leader Joe Trumpey begins digging the foundation of the straw bale building at Matthaei Botanical Garden.

Five students in multicolored construction helmets stand in man-made ditch digging the foundation for the building

Students in the Green Building class dig the foundation for the straw bale building on the U-M Campus Farm at the Matthaei Botanical Garden.

Female student operates a table circle saw

U-M students make a cut in their build of the straw bale building on the U-M Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Garden.

The straw bale building pictured from the back

The straw bale building faces south, looking over the U-M Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Garden.

Read the full story: myumi.ch/LPvd5

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