Japanese students design home heated and cooled by fermenting straw

Waseda University
© Waseda University

We know that composting is good for our gardens, but what about heating our homes? Harnessing the heat generated by the composting process to heat our homes sounds like a far-fetched idea, but it's been proposed before and experimented with quite successfully decades ago.

Students at Japan's Waseda University built this intriguing prototype that is heated by composting straw encased within acrylic boxes that make up the house's perimeter walls.

© Waseda University

Seen over at Inhabitat, this simple home uses a simple, low-odor composting technique called "bokashi" (meaning "fermented organic matter"), the fermenting straw releases a lot of heat -- 30 degree celsius (86 degree Fahrenheit) heat, in fact -- for up to an impressive four weeks.

© Waseda University

Designed by student designers Masaki Ogasawara, Keisuke Tsukada and Erika Mikami, the "Recipe to Live" house is located in Taiki-cho town on Hokkaido island, a place that is known for its dairy farms (and lots of locally-made straw).

In the summer, straw will dry inside transparent window shelving which act as "heat shield panels," thus releasing moisture that will help cool the ambient temperature. During winter, the fermenting straw will give off heat thanks to the microbial process that gradually breaks down the organic matter.

© Waseda University
© Waseda University

Of course, this "living house" will require extra care as the straw will have to be changed a few times per year, but this is a fascinating concept that takes advantage of the energy created by a natural process. More over at Inhabitat and LIXIL (Japanese).

Tags: Architecture | Composting | Energy | Heating | Japan