Illustration by Kat Wong / North by Northwestern.

    The challenge: Create the smallest possible living area while using as few resources as possible. A group of McCormick students have designed a tiny, single-person house that produces its own electricity and clean water — and they’re building it in the Engelhart Hall parking lot. The team is building around a 128 square foot floor plan. The average double in Allison is 213 square feet.

    Tiny House began as a class project, and the team hopes that once it’s completed, it can serve as a training ground for future McCormick students. Engineering freshmen could get their feet wet by designing small projects that will make the house better and more efficient. The house is scheduled for completion over spring break.

    1. Five solar panels on the roof charge three 12-volt batteries that can keep the house run- ning for three days, even if there’s no sunlight.

    2. The refrigerator and LED lights run on direct-current for maximum energy efficiency. There’s enough electricity for you to use a small electric stove, charge your laptop and cell phone and run other small appliances through- out the day.

    3. The super-efficient faucet uses only half a gallon of water per minute, and it slides up or down depending on whether you want to shower or wash your hands.

    4. The composting toilet breaks down all your waste into fertilizer. It needs to be emptied about every two weeks.

    5. The bathroom is also the shower, so you need to cover the toilet and toilet paper to keep them dry while you bathe. And keep it under ten minutes, or you risk using up your daily allotment of 10.4 gallons. For future female residents, there’s enough room to shave your legs if you sit on the toilet.

    6. Windows on opposite walls generate serious airflow in the summer, and a wood-burning stove heats the house in the winter.

    7. The loft is a full size bed, and in case you were wondering, there is enough room to have sex. Don’t ask how they tested this.

    8. From the 630 gallon water pillow, the rainwater is pumped through filters that use UV light to kill bacteria and activated carbon to remove impurities. A solar panel heats a glycol solution — basically antifreeze — that warms the water before it reaches the house’s one faucet.

    9. Awnings collect rainwater that flows into a giant, flexible plastic bladder under the house. The dark colored awnings absorb heat, so in winter, they melt snow into usable water.


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