As founder of terrabluteams.org, a long-time environmental advocate and in rebellion against my ancestry (Norwegian architect of the overbuilt Gingerbread house variety- all his structures are on the historic house register); I thought it time I designed and built my own zero carbon tiny home.
Why, you may ask. Or better yet, why now?
I’ve had a lifetime of renovating suburban and urban properties, lofts and mountain retreats I have owned. All energy efficient structures that were needed for differing family and business requirements. I have lived in homes as large as 4,800SF and as little as 350SF. I’ve always had to take another builder’s structure and make it mine. No more.
During my lifetime I neither had sufficient time as a single parent, excess funds or the knowledge of how to build my own sustainable home. I got close a few times. Being single again, after having nurtured a family and several partners for decades, I will now have the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream – to design, build and live in my own tiny zero carbon home on wheels that fits my sustainable lifestyle.
Armed with today’s tech, the internet, a sustainability management education and a tiny house workshop I’ll be attending in November, I will be able to take this dream off my bucket list and back into reality!
This week’s practice is to find your “sustainable” bucket list item and take steps to actualize it.
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When I read E. F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful in 1973 most critics thought his vision of development utopian and outdated instead of the precursor to sustainable development.* His focus was on our ability to make economic or technological choices in the long-term interest of communities – “economics as if people mattered.”
The “Why” is simple.
- Intelligent, efficient lifestyle customized design.
- Easier to maintain.
- No wasted space.
- Energy efficient.
- More creativity
- Economically viable for anyone.
- Smaller footprint.
- Easy to move.
- Easy to add on or reconfigure.
- Can be custom designed and hand built by an average person.
- With recycled materials can be built for as little as $500 or pre-ordered custom built for as much as $50,000.
- Can be commandeered for guesthouse, studio, meditation shack.
• Leopold Kohr, the Austrian economist and political scientist inspired the Small is Beautiful movement and warned us 50 years ago that the global system was heading for implosion in Breakdown of Nations.
Note: And it is interesting that the founder of the small house movement settled in my home town, Minneapolis, Minnesota.This English born American architect, Susan Susanka, is credited with being an American Culture Innovator in 1998 after her book The Not So Big House was released in 1997.
I have followed the “tiny house movement” since 2008. At this point in my life, a tiny zero carbon sustainable house is all I need. I figure solar powered, stainless steel roof rainwater collection, triple glazed windows, recycled green materials; you get the idea.
In order to get off the grid and on wheels ASAP with little or no footprint I spent the last six months checking out workshops in my regional area. I registered to take a creative tiny house workshop in November that I read about in the New York Times over a year ago (when I was attending Presidio Graduate School in Sustainable Management) and heard about in an NPR segment given by the renowned, Derek “Deek” Diedricksen.
I can’t wait to see what tricks and tips he has up his “creative sleeve”! Will report back when I return.
You can check out other national workshops from this map.
The Deep Dive:
Tiny House Summer Camp of Deek’s that I’m taking in November in Stoughton, Ma.
Loftcube, the home you can take with you anywhere
The Micro-Compact home
Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
The “Weehouses” from Alchemy Architects
The Minihome from Sustain Design Studio
The tiny house movement is being captured into this movie
House 227 – 34 minute you tube video documentary
The Not So Big House book is credited with starting the tiny house movement in 1997
We the Tiny House People, the 1 hour 21 minute video on the growing underground movement