Have you ever seen solar-powered tiny houses?

For the last decade, the U.S. Department of Energy has held a Solar Decathlon collegiate competition that consist of 10 contests, including building solar-powered tiny houses. For the Tiny Houses competition, contestants put together their most versatile team and spend two years working on a project with budgets ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.

Although, the Tiny Houses competition is open to any university or college in California, it is largely funded and conducted by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. The ultimate goal is to create the most energy-efficient solar-powered house. Collegiate teams usually aim to design and build net-zero, tiny solar houses.

And the winner is…

This years award for the best solar-powered micro house goes to the rEvolve House from Santa Clara University. The tiny house movement is an architectural and social movement that advocates living modestly in small homes. The 238 sq. ft tiny house is a tenth of the size of a traditional house, yet it has the amenities and comfort found in an average size house. “The house features a bedroom with a Murphy bed and a full sized kitchen that incorporates a seating area and fold out table. The home will also contain a 35 sq. ft wet bathroom with a dry-flush toilet that will eliminate the use of a black water system. The walls are constructed with Structural Insulated Panels…and features a roof deck that provides an expanded seating area.”  More importantly, the house runs on eight 330 Watt Sunmodule solar panels that keep it off the grid.

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Micro living

Furthermore, the US is experiencing a micro living movement that advocates living modestly in small homes. There are many ecological benefits to micro living, also known as minimalism. The benefits include more: freedom, happiness, confidence, focus on health and hobbies, less clutter, etc. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and D.C. are embracing this movement. Many Americans are making this sacrifice as it’s becoming too expensive to live in popular cities like the ones aforementioned. Many environmentalists would consider this a step towards green living and sustainability.

The next step is learning how to convert these micro apartments/houses into net-zero homes. Thanks to competitions like Solar Decathlon’s Tiny House, building solar-powered tiny living spaces is not impossible. Hopefully this helps pave the way for a new wave of solar micro-housing and smart living.