Jeffery, a homebuilder specializing in using only natural materials for his construction projects, recently completed a tiny house in the woods. His main goals were to construct a house that was comfortable to live in and cheap to built, and made from materials destined for the landfill as much as possible. The cabin he built contains a bed, desk and a small wood stove. It is intended to serve mainly as a shelter, and therefore encourage the occupant to go out and enjoy nature.
Growing food in the colder months of the year is a challenge, and growers in colder climates that want to extend the crop-growing season are always looking for a better way to do so. Greenhouses are a great option, but they cost a lot of money to construct and heat during the colder months. The American sustainable agriculture non-profit organization Benson Institute has come up with a set of easy to follow instructions on how to build a much cheaper alternative, the so-called walipini, which means “place of warmth” in Aymara Indian. The walipini is basically an underground, pit greenhouse in which it possible to grow vegetables all year, even in the coldest regions of the world.
Living in a tiny house doesn’t necessarily equal sacrificing comfort, at least not according to work-at-home husband and wife team Andrew and Gabriella Morrison. Their 221 square foot home, which is dubbed hOMe, is designed in a way that maximizes each part of the living space, giving the appearance of being a much larger hose than it is. The home greatly resembles a shipping container from the outside due to its shape, and is only 8 feet and 6 inches wide.
Alek Lisefski, a 29-year old freelancer designed and built his own tiny home in 2012, after deciding that paying a high rent was just not a viable option. The tiny home he built rests on an 8-by-20 flatbed trailer and can be towed around the country as necessary, or desired. He designed the house using the 3-D modeling program SketchUp, some books on the subject, and a number of tutorials off the internet. It took Lisefski 7 months to design and build the home, and it is currently located in Sebastopol, California. He lives there with his girlfriend, Anjali Krystofiak, and their dog.
Harold Turner’s home near Concord, New Hampshire measures 3,370 square feet and was built using the ROSE construction method, which was created to build affordable net zero energy and cost effective homes in a wide variety of geographical locations and environments. R stands for “Renewable energy production,” O and S stand for “Owner driven spatial design,” and E is for “Energy efficient construction,” while the entire house is known as ROSE cottage and serves as a prototype and test bed for future homes to be built using this method. The entire home was built for $175 per square foot.
While living in solar powered homes is very sustainable and environmentally friendly, the materials from which most solar PV arrays are constructed are not. Since they are often made from rare natural materials or plastics, researchers are constantly looking for way to improve this flaw and make the whole package more eco-friendly. A team of scientists from the University of Maryland, the South China University of Technology, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have recently developed a type of paper, which is made from wood fibers. This paper is 96 percent transparent and could conceivably one day be used instead of the plastic materials used to construct the solar cells of today. This would make solar cells more eco-friendly as well as much cheaper.