Green Mountain College’s Tiny Pod-Shaped House is Designed for the 21st Century Nomad

by , 01/20/14

green mountain college, tiny house, solar power, rainwater catchment system, lucas brown, OTIS, Renewable Energy and Ecological Design, Optimal Traveling Independent Space, design/build

Green Mountain College students are redefining the American dream with a tiny “living system” home that offers a mobile lifestyle with a reduced environmental footprint. Created as part of professor Lucas Brown’s Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) class, the 70 square foot pod-shaped house includes a sleeping area, rainwater collection, and a 120-watt solar powered electrical system. Nicknamed OTIS (Optimal Traveling Independent Space), this self-sufficient mobile home was built with reclaimed materials whenever possible.

green mountain college, tiny house, solar power, rainwater catchment system, lucas brown, OTIS, Renewable Energy and Ecological Design, Optimal Traveling Independent Space, design/build

The semester-long design and build project measures 8′ x 12′ and was custom built to comfortably fit one person. Brown’s sixteen students were divided into separate teams to design and construct the house’s water, energy, heat, and building envelope systems. “The appeal of living a more nomadic lifestyle represents a new take on the American Dream, especially among students in this millennial generation,” says Brown. “They (students) aren’t interested in being tied down with rent or a mortgage right after college. Something about having their own living space which is very low maintenance and very mobile suggests a different set of priorities.”

To cut down on the waste stream, the students also installed a composting toilet and rainwater catchment system that independently supplies the bath and kitchen. The lightweight living quarters can be easily loaded up and towed on a standard 5′ x ‘8 trailer. The unit is currently for sale in the $8,000-10,000 range.

+ Renewable Energy and Ecological Design

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  1. Sarah Ellis March 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I love the design and concept. Very well done. How would one go about getting one of these?

  2. Charlene Knight March 31, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Nothing is ever said about where these houses are going to go. I am in new england and I think most towns have strict laws about where you can put a house – you must own the land, lot size, necessity of water and sewer, etc. You can’t just park them anywhere. Also, they mention (sometimes) about heat and/or cooling but zones in the US differ greatly, what will work in Arizona won’t work in Maine. What about snow load? If it is light enough to load on a trailer it is light enough to blow away. I don’t think some of these ideas are thought through enough. But I like the idea, especially if they are inexpensive. Another thought — how long will they last?

  3. Stacey Spendlove January 26, 2014 at 2:22 am

    cool concept & cool looking … ^_^

  4. Sergo Cusiani January 22, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Must be useful for mine workers, especially for those who work in distant mines far away from communications. I suppose these talented students will work on variety of new models accommodating specific purposes.

  5. C-m Corr-Holmes January 22, 2014 at 12:43 am

    Use some great phase change materials, and it would be insulated, too.

  6. Keith Poole January 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Skip the trailer and that stupid car. Put wheels on this thing, give it an electric motor and google’s self driving technology, and travel sustainably and in style. The future is looking good.

  7. Joseph Ensign January 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    As a Professor of the living arts, this aspect of Sustainability has been a goal for many of our friends and students. I really enjoy the fact that this small dwelling includes a composting toilet and rainwater catchment. Are there designs available? The fact that one could manufacture this for under $2,000 is incredible. I would love to obtain such plans so that one could replicate this fantastic idea! Be well, and thanks for continuing to push the limits of what we believe to be possible.

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