Sixteen students from Vermont’s Green Mountain College’ Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) program recently unveiled an innovative tiny house. The OTIS, short for Optimal Traveling Independent Space, is a 70 square foot tiny house that can be towed anywhere atop a standard 5 by 8 foot trailer attached to a regular car. To make this possible, the design of the OTIS is very aerodynamic, while it is also completely off-the-grid and was built using reclaimed materials as much as possible.
The tiny pod dwelling measures 8 feet by 12 feet and can house one person comfortably. The home took a single semester to design and build, with the sixteen students participating in the program divided into eight teams, each with the separate task of taking care of the home’s water, heat, energy and building envelope needs in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.
The OTIS features a rainwater collection system, which is connected to the indoor plumbing and independently supplies the bathroom and kitchen. The pod also features a 120-watt solar panel system, which is mounted on the front of the pod and provides all the needed electricity. The OTIS is also fitted with a composting toilet. Inside, the OTIS is furnished with a bed, a desk, a simple sink, and a small Fastco wood-burning stove. The main goal of the project was to provide a fully functional living space with a smaller footprint that can be moved virtually anywhere in the world on a whim.
In light of the recent economic and financial crisis, more and more people are looking for ways to reduce their costs of living, and this project also aimed to make that goal a more concrete possibility. However, Lucas Brown, the professor who oversaw the completion of the project, thinks that there may be more than just that behind the student’s eagerness to create the OTIS. As he put it: “The appeal of living a more nomadic lifestyle represents a new take on the American Dream, especially among students in this millennial generation. Lots of writing on the millennials suggests that our suburban growth model perpetuated over the last 50-60 years is starting to come to and end. They (the students) aren’t interested in being tied down with rent or a mortgage right after college. Something about having their own living space which is very low maintenance and very mobile suggests a different set of priorities.”
The OTIS is already available for sale for around $10,000.