Bamboo Technologies is a company based on Maui that sells prefabricated homes made of Vietnamese bamboo. Very cool designs. The bamboo they use is a thick-walled variety called "timber bamboo," used for telephone poles in SE Asia, that has only a very small hole running through the center. They say it's stronger than wood, can be sustainably harvested in just seven years (it can grow 4 feet a day!) and yields 2o times more building material per acre than hardwood trees. They also say that it takes about an acre of trees to build a typical American home, but not much more than the area of the home itself to grow enough bamboo!
The Thai Hale and Pavilion hale designs are my favorite. I love their huge wrap-around porches. (Interior pics here. Awesome loft!)
Each house is first assembled in Vietnam, then disassembled and shipped in crates to the building site. And since it's all prefab, it can be assembled in just three days with nuts and bolts! (videos here) The total cost, including labor, electrical and plumbing, is $75,000-$113,000 for the Thai design above. I think these houses are best suited for a tropical climate, though; the walls look rather thin.
Speaking of Maui, I once interpreted for a guy named Robert King at an APU orientation session for parents. He handed me his business card: Pacific Biodiesel--Maui, Hawaii. Cool. Didn't think much of it until I poked around online and discovered that this guy is involved in some really amazing stuff! His company makes clean-burning alternative fuel for cars. Very innovative. Very cool.
"The firm, still the only producer of the product in Hawai'i, gets used vegetable oil from restaurants and fast-food operations. It is filtered and chemically treated to remove glycerin and then can go right in to diesel engines, either pure, or mixed with regular fuel."
Read this article about it. Here is the Pacific Biodiesel website.
The guy was so mild-mannered and kind, I would have never guessed that he's the head honcho of such an important company.