In the USA, and to a lesser degree Australia, “McMansion” style housing has been popular. At the other extreme, the “Tiny House” concept is also gaining traction.
McMansion structures are notorious for their lack of energy efficiency. However, the Global Financial Crisis coupled with skyrocketing energy costs and environmental concerns is seeing a renewed focus on smaller houses that maximise the use of limited space.
The Tiny House movement focuses on reducing the size of living spaces in order to reduce carbon footprint and household running costs, such as electricity
A team of designers and engineers from Northwestern University in the USA are pushing the envelope of small residential structure design with a 12 square meter home called “Casita” that is totally self sufficient in terms of energy and water.
Casita’s stand-alone rooftop solar panels in conjunction with a bank of deep cycle batteries generates and stores enough power to sustain one to two occupants and is sized to provide power to the home for three days in the absence of sufficient sunlight.
The home’s roofing material is composed of 95% recovered plastic, flooring is made from bamboo, FSC certified wood has been utilised for the frame and its double glazed windows contain a layer of low-emittance coating and argon gas filling between the panes in order to maximise insulation efficiency.
The home will also harvest enough rainwater to supply the occupants’ needs, assuming prudent use, and a composting toilet will produce fertiliser for the home’s gardens.
The Northwestern University team will complete the construction of Casita in the coming months as a relocatable structure. Casita will be built on a trailer 2.4m x 5m and will weigh less than 3.2 tonnes.
While Tiny Houses wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, nor suitable for families, concepts and processes developed for these structures could be applied to larger homes.
Source/Image source: NU Tiny House Project