News Home & Design This Student-Built Tiny House Is Also a 'Mobile Energy Education Center' This modern tiny house was constructed by Baltimore students as part of a skills training program. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated January 27, 2021 06:36PM EST Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Tiny House Expedition News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Small and tiny houses have been heralded as a possible solution for a lot of problems: from the lack of affordable housing, to addressing the climate emergency, as well as potentially encouraging better relationships (and more creative intimacy, of all things). On top of all that, tiny houses can also function as a great educational tool. Over the years, we've seen a number of college and community-based skill training programs that involve students designing and building tiny homes for their local communities – contributing their time and labor for the greater good, while learning some useful construction skills along the way. Baltimore-based non-profit Civics Works is one of these community organizations that train young people in practical skills, and at the same time, builds affordable tiny homes for those who need it. Here's a great overview of this demonstration model of The Clifton, which also serves as a "mobile energy education center" for the city of Baltimore, via Tiny House Expedition: Tiny House Expedition Designed as an energy-efficient home on wheels, The Clifton is built on top of a customized trailer and features a well-insulated shell to increase its energy efficiency. It can be fully or partially powered by solar panels, depending on the number of panels used. Any energy that's collected by the solar panels during the day can be stored in its battery bank, so that it can be used later during the night. Tiny House Expedition The Clifton's modern exterior is clad with black metal and cedar siding, giving it a cutting-edge look. Its prominent overhang provides some shelter while sitting out of doors, and it includes a fold-down deck that can conveniently swing down when the tiny house is parked, thus creating some extra outdoor porch space to enjoy. Inside, this 200-square-foot tiny home has all the basics: a small kitchen on one end that is split between two sides; a sitting area; a table; a lofted sleeping area, and a bathroom. Tiny House Expedition The walls are clad with pine wood planks, and the lighter color palette – in both the walls and the cork flooring – helps to make the space seem much bigger. In addition, cork is a versatile, renewable material that is also durable and resistant to rot. In the kitchen area, there are two counters facing each other: one equipped with a small sink and two-burner stove, and the other being an open surface to prepare food. Tiny House Expedition The cabinets are covered with bamboo panelling, and the counters themselves are made with recycled paper. Tiny House Expedition The home is heated with a small, ultra-efficient propane heater from Dickinson, a popular option for many tiny-home owners. Tiny House Expedition One of the more intriguing features of this tiny house is its DIY air conditioner, which is made out of a large plastic bucket with two pipe openings, lined with reflective insulation, and topped with an electric fan. The idea here is to fill the bucket with dry ice – a solid form of carbon dioxide – and then run the fan to cool down this small space, while using less electricity. While it should be noted that dry ice needs to be handled with insulated gloves, and that we're not totally sure how safe this DIY method is, it is nevertheless an interesting idea that might work if the situation won't allow for a conventional AC unit. Tiny House Expedition In any case, the tiny home does have yet another option to cool itself down, namely a "cool roof." This is a roof that's been painted white so that it reflects the heat of the sun, thus passively lowering the interior temperature during the summer, without using any energy. Over in the living room area, there's an upholstered bench that hides the solar battery bank underneath. Right across from the bench is the fold-down table, which is made with bamboo, another sustainable and fast-growing renewable material. On the floor beside the table, you can see two pedal generators, which apparently can charge one's phone within the hour (while you get a decent workout at the same time). Tiny House Expedition Here's a peek at the sleeping loft, which is accessible by ladder, and is large enough to accommodate a queen-sized mattress. Tiny House Expedition In addition to The Clifton, Civics Works offers four other tiny house models: The Roving, The Degsy, The Countryside, and The Shonsie. Each of them have a different layout and aesthetic, and all of them can be slightly customized to a client's needs. Each home is built according to RVIA certification standards by supervised participants in the YouthBuild program, thus simplifying the processes of getting financing and insurance. To find out more, visit Civic Works.