Editors Note: Sadly, on July 31, 2019, Green Mountain College ceased operations after 185 years.
From the innovative to the zany, it's always eye-opening to see what the nation's top environmental college programs are up to. We previously covered this food-growing, electric-car-charging Solar Garage by Vermont's Green Mountain College, now their Renewable Energy and Ecological Design (REED) students have come up with the OTIS, a 70-square foot mobile tiny home.
Designed and constructed by sixteen students, the OTIS (which stands for Optimal Traveling Independent Space) is an aerodynamic, pod-shaped design, made to be towed on a standard 5-foot by 8-foot trailer and a four-cylinder vehicle. It has its own rainwater collection system that feeds into the indoor plumbing, in addition to the 120-watt solar panel system to provide electricity. To handle human waste, the OTIS uses a composting toilet.
Professor Lucas Brown oversaw the students' progress, commenting on what he sees as the current young generation's re-interpretation of a happy life, lived on a smaller footprint:
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 suggest that our suburban growth model perpetuated over the last 50-60 years is starting to come to an end. They (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.
Tiny homes and micro-apartments may have their detractors, but it's becoming clear that as society's socio-economic fabric is changing, more and more young people are seeing the disadvantages of being bogged down by debt, wasteful habits and a conventional home in the suburbs stuffed to the gills with 'stuff'. Only time will reveal what this brave new world will look like; and hopefully, it won't be littered with big, badly built and inefficient homes.