Tiny-home competition tests students’ efficiency, collaboration skills
By Ed Fletcher
14 October 2016
Video courtesy Sacramento Bee, photos courtesy Sabrina Werts
Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY), an interdisciplinary team of College of Environmental Design and other UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students, won second place overall in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) Tiny Home Competition in addition to bringing home specific awards for “Best Craftsmanship,” “Water Conservation,” “Sustainability” and “Home Life.”
The competition, modeled after the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathalon, asked teams to use modern building techniques and technology to maximize energy efficiency. Seeking to ride the popularity of the tiny-house movement, which rejects the bigger-is-better mainstream housing mentality in favor of economic freedom, personal mobility and infill housing, each home’s design was limited to 400 square feet. PhD candidate in Building Science in Architecture Caroline Karmann said the competition “was an opportunity to put into practice what I’m learning in theory.”
Each team took a different approach to solve space and power concerns: THIMBY’s design ran 100 percent on solar power, used recycled water in the shower and captured fog for drinking water, and ran on a 2.2 kW PV array, storing energy in a 6.4 kWh Tesla Powerwall lithium ion battery. The 170-square-foot home, which was designed as the pilot unit in a community of zero net energy tiny houses in Richmond, also features a vertical “living wall” with an activated carbon filter combo that can recycle greywater for non-potable use. Still in development is a smart home monitoring system that can consult weather forecasts for optimal heating and cooling loads.
THIMBY’s design will eventually go to a newlywed, eco-conscious couple in the Richmond area.
Below is a video taken during the competition which features College of Environmental Design undergraduate Oriya Cohen (BA Sustainable Environmental Design ‘17). To learn about THIMBY’s design, check out their website, or read more about the competition here.