A self-sufficient tiny home called the Ecological Living Modul was created in just eight weeks by the cooperation between Gray Organschi Architecture and the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture team.
It is estimated that one billion people live in informal settlements that most of the time lack reliable water, sanitation, food and electricity, and yet the housing sector contributes to more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In the summer of 2018, the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture and the Gray Organschi Architecture firm, addressed these issues through the design and construction of a 230-square-foot tiny home, as a housing prototype. The model was installed at the UN HQ in New York and is efficient, adaptable, and fully off-grid.
The home was designed to best take advantage of the sun, and the facade of the building was designed to hold greenery. It was also sent on a lightweight foundation, with the roof system pivoted up to reach its final height of 16 feet, which creates a double-height space on the interior for a sleeping loft. Once the roof is raised, wall panels were installed by hand on the interior.
The goal was to reduce energy and resources not only during its construction but also during its operation and entire life cycle. This was achieved using renewable, biogenic materials and systems that used on-site water, air, energy, and waste management. The Integrated Concentrating Solar Facade system also allows for maximum sun exposure.
At the top of the loft, there is a window opening which allows natural light as well as passive cooling and ventilation. Its reduced carbon footprint address a number of issues that are critical for the global sustainable development goals such as reducing energy needs, using renewable bio-based materials and so on.
The house features a solar system that provides 100% of the building’s energy needs, a rainwater harvesting system that captures 80% of rainwater from the roof and filters it to be reused as potable water, a dehumidifier that recaptures water from the air during hot summer months, and a greywater system to irrigate food-producing plants on the building’s west facade.
While it was originally created in eight weeks, the home was designed to show the innovative solutions for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Energy. The team is now in discussions to reiterate or scale up the project.
Throughout its lifecycle, the ELM has a real potential to address a number of housing and sustainability issues around the globe. If produced at a large scale, the homes could be produced for under $50,000 per unit.
The solar panels produce two kilowatts of clean, free, on-site energy, which is enough to make the house energy-efficient for four people.
The unit was temporary, that is why it did not follow the typical permitting process, and because it was installed on a land owned by the UN, the local and federal codes and permit did not apply.
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