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Not Wind Nor Fire Will Blow These Straw Houses Down

Developers in the U.K. have made the first commercially available straw bale houses.

Image courtesy of ModCell.

A British company called ModCell is unveiling a line of seven new prefabricated townhomes for the market—and they’re all made of straw. Your first instinct might be to make a “Three Little Pigs” reference, but these houses bear no resemblance to the flimsy structures depicted in the well-known fairy tale. These straw bale houses are not just low-cost, they’re also environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

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Ask Joe Trumpey to describe life in his off-grid, straw bale home in the dead of a Michigan winter, and you might be surprised by his answer: “Comfortable.”

Nestled on a 40-acre farm in Grass Lake, Michigan, about 25 miles west of Ann Arbor, Trumpey, his wife Shelly, and their two daughters are modern-day homesteaders who are just as thoughtful about where their energy comes from as they are about sourcing their food. On their farm, the Trumpeys raise chickens and heritage breeds like highland cattle and giant American chinchilla rabbits. The idea of working with local folks to build a new home with local materials seemed like the next logical extension of their locavore impulses.

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