This article in CNN Technology speaks about low and high tech solutions for reducing reliance on fossil fuels from using simple building materials such as straw and clay to installing solar panels on roofs.
Sieben Linden, the village in eastern Germany, mixes high- and low-tech approaches. Some of its roughly 100 residents live in homes built with little more than clay, wood and straw. Straw bales coated with clay are put inside the homes’ walls. The insulation reduces the need for powered heating and cooling, making the houses much more energy efficient than homes made with standard building materials, according to village resident Martin Schlegel.
“The energy you save by [using straw] is sufficient to heat this house 12 years, compared to a house built with normal modern materials,” he said. Those who worry about the straw easily catching fire should think again, Schlegel said. He said that because the bales are tightly packed, they don’t ignite quickly.
“[Burning] a sheet of paper — it is very easy. But try to light a telephone book,” he said, comparing the bales to the book. Straw-bale construction was used in Nebraska in the 19th century. The villagers of Sieben Linden take a more technological approach, fitting their homes with solar panels.