(Photo by Holly Quinn)
What’s most interesting about Y Innovations’ Straw Bale House Project isn’t the unusual building materials or novel approach to addressing homelessness and utilizing vacant lots. It’s not even that the nonprofit’s founders, Brennan Stark and Steve Burns, are 18-year-olds barely out of high school.
It’s the commitment to an idea that sounds like the type of project that seems too good to be possible: Ecologically superior homes made of agricultural waste products that are as efficient, fire resistant and sturdy as traditional houses but cost exponentially less, making them an affordable option for families who otherwise could not afford to own or even rent a family-suitable house or apartment.
Straw bale houses are a growing trend with ecology-minded folks of the upper classes, and they don’t resemble the first little piggy’s house at all. Y innovations’ design is simple — a two-bedroom, one-story house with a driveway (off-street parking is a requirement for new homes built in the city) and an elevated back garden — using firmly packed straw as insulation, not walls, roof or exterior.
The groundbreaking drew a small crowd to the still empty lot, the overgrowth removed to reveal five trees in various states lining the back. Guests included U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, Wilmington City Council President Hanifa Shabazz and Mayor Mike Purzycki, as well as Ryan Catalani of Family Promise and project sponsors.
Check out the photos below. You can follow the Straw Bale House Project’s progress at YInnovations.org.
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