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.

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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