Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture students presented their energy-saving walls made from trash to as many as 30,000 people at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

TrashWall is a collaborative effort between WSU’s engineering and architecture students. Guided by Taiji Miyasaka, associate professor of architecture in the School of Design and Construction, and Bob Richards, professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, the students use trash to create walls that sustain heat and improve energy efficiency.

Student ideas for walls made from trash:
Strips cut from magazine pages are woven to create a wall. Magazine pages rolled into tubes and placed side-by-side to form a wall. Magazine pages cut into strips.

Current energy efficiency technologies cater to the rich, said Richards. But low-income people—who might spend half of a paycheck paying for the winter energy bill—need the improvements most. At 10 cents per square foot, TrashWall could be an efficient, affordable alternative.

In constructing their prototypes, the students dug through trash to find usable items, taking excess out of the waste stream in addition to making efficient building materials. The students also incorporated fire-resistant materials into their designs. The walls are crafted creatively, making them works of art that happen to be made from trash.

“When we think about trash, we think about things in the garbage bin,” Miyasaka said. “But paper, when it is sitting on a table, is just paper. When it is thrown into a bin it becomes trash.”

Innovation 2016 magazine cover

Innovation Magazine

Find this story and related content in Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s latest edition of Innovation Magazine.