Michigan students getting lesson in sustainable home building

Michigan students getting lesson in sustainable home building

Photo by University of Michigan News

A group of University of Michigan students – and some prospective green builders – are erecting a sustainable home on the campus.

The students are crafting the structure from straw bales and layers of adobe as part of a green building class. The goal is to shed more light on the environmentally friendly approach that continues to gain traction worldwide.

"Some of the philosophy about this building is art and some of it is design," associate professor Joe Trumpey told the school’s newspaper, Michigan News. "One little straw bale building on campus isn’t going to fix climate change or UM’s carbon footprint, but it can help make those issues more visible."

The project will take roughly a month to complete. It will be the first student-built and off-the-grid structure on the main campus. 

The home will feature a metal roof outfitted with solar panels. Its thermal envelope will be made of 18-inch-thick straw bales coated with thick adobe.

The structure will play host to new Michigan Dining farm-to-table dinners, be the anchor for the annual fall festival held at Matthaei Botanical Gardens by the U-M Sustainable Food Program and serve as a spot for student farmers to meet while working on planting and harvesting crops.
Students who are part of the innovative project see several benefits beyond the structure’s sustainability.

"The most important thing about this project is the outside-the-classroom experience, the hands-on of learning skills, as opposed to knowledge," student Kristen Hayden told Michigan News. 

The project received funding from MDining and the Planet Blue Student Initiative Fund. A grant from the Planet Blue Renewable Energy Demonstration Project Program provided for the purchase of the solar panels.


Topics: Going Green, Roofing, Solar Power, Sustainable Communities, Thermal Envelope

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