Our Founding Fathers introduced the revolutionary idea that each person's desire to pursue their idea of happiness was not self-indulgence, but a necessary driver of a prosperous society.
They created a government to defend that right for everyone. The pursuit of happiness became the driver of the entrepreneurial spirit that defines the American free market economy. This has been labelled "The American Dream".
With instability in both the economy and the political arena more and more people are seeking a sustainable lifestyle. One aspect of being completely sustainable is cutting the cord between yourself and the centralized utility system.
Being off grid is often part of a deeper “back to the land” aesthetic in which independence from “the man” (not only power companies) is key. It may be about being self-sufficient, about teaching kids to be green and not to take things for granted. It may be about having your own water supply, septic system and perhaps even growing your own food and raising animals. Having an off-grid electrical system, whether solar, wind or micro-hydro, certainly fits into this ethic.
An off the grid lifestyle is one that is eco friendly, cost effective, and healthy. It means you do not rely on the grid (centralized utility system) to sustain you, you simply sustain yourself. Many people who live off the grid live in owner-built green homes in rural areas. However, an off the grid home can be any style, and be in any location.
The future of tiny home design is looking very bright. A team of students from Sacramento State, working under the name Sol Vespiade, have designed a beautiful self-sustaining tiny home that reflects a new sustainable way of living for future generations. The solar-powered, 400-square-foot home on wheels – with a seriously comfy interior – is a powerhouse of energy generation that offers the ultimate solution to modern day off grid needs.
The exterior of the tiny home was clad in a light paint color with cedar trim, paying homage to the traditional American wooden homes. However, this classic look has been modernized with various innovative and visible sustainable features that take the home into the future of sustainable living.
A vertical wall of solar panels was installed on the northern facade, complementing the roof’s solar array, in order to provide the home with ample electricity.
Alternatively, the home’s southern facade is equipped with an evacuated tube solar collector, which converts sunlight into heat for water. The system is protected by a rigid steel frame that keeps it safe while traveling. For the home’s water needs, a 40 gallon rainwater collection tank was affixed to the home’s western side.
The home’s entrance is through two wide french doors that swing out as to not take up too much space once inside the home. The living space is light and airy thanks to the glass doors as well as a large bay window that sits over an extended counter/dining space.
In addition to the natural light they offer, the multiple windows provide cross ventilation to create a healthy, natural atmosphere, reducing the need for air conditioning.
The interior design is a sophisticated blend of a cool teal color on the walls, accented with honey-toned wood paneling. The wooden accents are used in the home’s shelving, flooring, and the stairs, which lead up to a small sleeping loft.
Hidden in a corner is a mechanical well that allows for monitoring of the home’s electrical and water use. Eight 6 watt deep-cycle batteries that store the energy and a 20 gallon water tank stores the water heated by the solar collector.
The tiny home will soon be on display in Sacramento’s upcoming SMUD Tiny House Competition.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat
I am certain our Founding Fathers, Henry Thoreau and Dick Proenneke would approve of the students hard work to protect the American Dream.
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