Northwestern Students Design an Off-Grid Tiny House
At the beginning of 2009, a group of six undergraduate engineering students at Northwestern University were introduced to the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and the Small House Movement. Inspired by Tumbleweed’s designs and realizing its potential for promoting environmental sustainability, they began conceptualizing their version of the next generation of tiny homes.
Through the support of Northwestern University, the staff at the Segal Design Institute, and the greater Evanston community, the students combined innovations from various fields of architecture and green design to create plans for an off-grid home that works to balance comfort and sustainability. The tiny house collects its own solar energy and water to reduce its environmental impact. Fitted with a rainwater catchment and solar panel system, the 128ft2 footprint provides enough power and potable water to sustain a single tenant year-round in the Midwest climate.
Notable attributes of the house include a stand-alone photovoltaic system with a battery bank, a water storage system that fits underneath the house, an active solar water heating system, and dual-purpose awnings for both shade and rainwater collection. The house is equipped with additional features to reduce energy and water consumption, such as incorporating DC powered loads, a shower with an efficient, low-flow showerhead, a non-electric composting toilet, and a woodstove to heat the home.
Currently, the team is focused on upcoming construction efforts and generating additional funding. The Northwestern Tiny House Project has received support from the Breed Fund for Design, the Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge, as well as private donations. View their website at www.tinyurl.com/nutinyhouse for more detailed information about the project as well as how you can help.