Net-Zero Tiny Home Designed by Students

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How much space does a person need to live comfortably? Not that much, according to tiny home enthusiasts. And tiny homes are certainly one way to combat the increased demand for affordable homes in urban areas. The students of Laney College in Oakland, California, have designed and built a solar-powered net-zero tiny home to help combat the housing shortage in the area. The home was entered into last year’s Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) competition and won the “Best Architecture” and “Best Design” accolades.

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The tiny house is called the Wedge and measures just 202 sq ft (18.8 sq m). It rests atop a 20 ft (6 m) long trailer and is primarily aimed at those who have been priced out of their homes by gentrification and the rising rents it brought. The home was designed in a way that ensures low maintenance and running costs.

The home produces as much energy as it consumes, and it gets its power from a solar panel array mounted on the roof, while excess power is stored in a battery bank. An inverter converts the power from the 24 volt DC bank of batteries to the standard 120 volts AC for the appliances and devices that require it. However, most of the lighting, devices and appliances, including the water heater, are powered directly from the battery.

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The Wedge has an interesting shape, which is how it got its name. A part of it juts out and the main purpose of this design choice was to create additional interior space, but keep the same footprint. The home features a sitting area, two sleeping lofts, a kitchen and a bathroom. The sitting area is fitted with an L-shaped sofa, which hides a storage area. As for sleeping, the home can accommodate a family of three. One of the lofts fits a queen-sized bed, while the other is big enough for a single bed. The larger is accessible via a storage stair, and the smaller one via a ladder. Although, since the lofts are just large enough to fit the beds, I would like to see some protective railing installed to prevent falls.

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The kitchen features a long counter that has all the necessities incorporated into it, namely a sink, a small fridge, a pantry and a two-burner induction stovetop. There is still ample amounts of counter space left over. Opposite the kitchen is the working/dining area, which is fitted with custom-built furniture and has seating that can be stored underneath the desk when not in use. The bathroom is fitted with a composting toilet, shower and sink.

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The home is also fitted with a natural gravel and wetland plant based greywater filtration system. This water can then be reused for irrigation, since the plan for these homes is to be used as part of urban farming initiatives.

The Wedge is currently on sale for $55,000 via Tiny House Listings.

Zero Emission Building Capable of Producing Almost Three Times the Energy it Uses

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The recently completed Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB) Pilot House, designed by the architecture firm Snøhetta in partnership with Norway’s Research Center on Zero Emission Buildings, is a family home that is capable of producing nearly three times as much energy as is required to power it. The additional energy can be fed back into the grid, or used to charge an electric car.

The ZEB house was built using a number of sustainable technologies and building practices. The energy to power the home comes via a roof top mounted 1,614-square-foot photovoltaic array, as well as a 172-square-foot solar thermal panel array. To catch the maximum possible amount of sunlight, the roof of ZEB house also slopes 19 degrees to the southeast. To further maximize solar heat gain, the builders strategically placed several glass windows and doors throughout the house.

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According to the architects, the home is capable of producing 19,200 kWh of electricity in a year, with the total electricity needs of the home being only 7,272 kWh per year. These are still just estimates though, as the real life performance of the ZEB house is still being tested.

The house is also equipped with heat exchanger, which expels excess heat and redirects it to warm the water, while the home itself if heated via a floor heating system. The home also features a swimming pool, which is heated using the redirected excess heat.

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A spacious atrium is also attached to the house, with a small nook for outdoor eating. The home also features a firewood-heated sauna, while the garden was planted with fruit trees and a vegetable garden, which allow the residents to grow some of their own food.

The next step is to monitor the long term performance of ZEB house to see whether the energy production estimates were accurate, as well as to monitor the effectiveness of the sustainable building practices used.

Related Articles on JetsonGreen.com:
KBHome Unveils ZeroHouse 2.0 Which is Both Water and Energy Efficient
A Zero Net Energy Prototype House Built in California
Net Zero Is All About the Building Envelope