Tiny House Sustainable Living blog documents life in an off-grid tiny home

September 22, 2020 by  
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In her home country of Australia, Jennifer lives with her 20-year-old daughter on a 42-acre farm along with horses, sheep, goats and alpacas. She designed and built her shipping container -turned-tiny-home herself, documenting the whole process on her blog to give everyone a look into her everyday sustainable and off-grid lifestyle. The Tiny House Sustainable Living blog has been live since July 1, gaining over 13,000 reads within the first month to overwhelmingly positive response. The home, which is completely self-sufficient, features an off-grid , ground-mounted solar power system with battery backup, rainwater collection tanks and a full underground septic system. Related: This DIY off-grid home in Hawaii includes a permaculture farm Jennifer says that her decision to go tiny came after a transition from a corporate lifestyle, igniting her desire for a more simple way of living and financial freedom. When she bought her land in 2016, she found herself with a completely blank canvas. Armed with knowledge about animal husbandry, Jennifer’s daughter uses her experience from her job as a wool classer for a major fleece producer to help out with the animals on the farm . Thanks to Jennifer’s touch, no one would ever suspect that this cute farmhouse cottage was once an industrial shipping container. The exterior is complemented with large windows to let the natural light shine through, modern porch lights and a charming stone path that leads up to the front door. There’s a large refrigerator, convection oven and four-burner stove inside the kitchen, with a roll-away island to allow for additional counter space. A wood-burning stove keeps the entire home warm and cozy on cooler days. Additional amenities include a rainwater showerhead and a washer/dryer unit in the bathroom. The blog itself outlines the week-by-week journey of her tiny home construction, highlighting what worked well and what she would have done differently. Readers can follow Jennifer’s articles, photos and videos, learning about everything from budgeting for construction to building a sustainable lifestyle . It doesn’t stop at her tiny home, either; she also discusses farm animal management, beekeeping, agriculture and more. So what’s next for Tiny House Sustainable Living? Jennifer says she is planning on doing step-by-step video blogs about growing her own food so that her fans can come along for the ride and maybe even learn a thing or two themselves. + Tiny House Sustainable Living Images via Tiny House Sustainable Living

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Tiny House Sustainable Living blog documents life in an off-grid tiny home

Botswana elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria

September 22, 2020 by  
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On June 18, 2020, we reported about the mysterious deaths of 154 elephants in Botswana. At the time, wildlife officials in Botswana said that the cause of the deaths was being investigated. According to a statement released by the Botswana Wildlife Conservation on Monday, it turns out that the elephants were killed by cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria is a type of algae that is found in many warm, calm waters around the world. Some species of this blue-green algae can produce toxins that are harmful to other organisms, including humans. The World Health Organization indicates that people who are exposed to cyanobacterial toxins either by drinking or bathing in infected waters may suffer symptoms including skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting and fever. At the same time, animals, birds and fish can be poisoned by the bacteria if it is available at high levels. Related: Scientists discover algae species that may affect coral reefs In May and June, concern was raised after several elephants died in Botswana in the Okavango Delta. According to Botswana officials, a total of 330 elephants died in just two months, prompting investigations into the actual causes of death. The findings have now been released after several months of tests in specialist laboratories in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada and the U.S. Although several of the elephants were found near watering holes, wildlife officials did not believe cyanobacteria to be the issue. Blue-green algal blooms mainly appear along the edges of the water, while the elephants typically drink from the center of a watering hole. Speaking in a press conference, Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ Principal Veterinary Officer Mmadi Reuben confirmed that the deaths had been caused by cyanobacteria. Reuben further noted that the deaths subsided toward the end of June, around the same time that the water pans began drying up. The elephant carcasses had tusks intact, which led officials to rule out poaching as a cause of death. Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, 25 more elephants have recently died. Samples have been sent to the U.K. for testing to help determine the cause of these deaths. Scientists and wildlife officials are still looking for possible measures that could be taken to stop such deaths in the future. Via BBC Image via Herbert Bieser

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Botswana elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria

Solar-powered dome in the Texas desert is the perfect place to go off the grid

August 18, 2020 by  
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The Terluna off-grid adobe dome home is located in a remote part of the Texas desert near Big Bend National Park, inside one of the country’s few remaining dark sky ordinance territories. Along with the opportunity to completely cut yourself off from the modern world, the dome’s setting offers incredible views of the night sky along with unobstructed access to the desert horizon. The dome is an earthen structure, built with an adobe barrier, that provides shelter from the elements. In this part of the state, those elements can range from extreme heat and wind to cold and rain. All power comes directly from an installed solar energy system, with just enough energy to also power phones, laptops and lights. Related: Spectacular rammed-earth dome home is tucked deep into a Costa Rican jungle Terluna is isolated, but because the entrance to Big Bend National Park is just a 25-minute drive away, it is easily accessible for those who want to do some exploring. For history buffs, the historic Terlingua Ghost Town can be found about 25 minutes away as well. Wi-Fi is also available in the dome for those who aren’t quite ready to go fully off the grid just yet. Fans of HGTV’s “Mighty Tiny Houses” may recognize the Terluna, as it has been featured on the show in the past. The dome home includes a kitchen with a two-burner propane stove, an oven and a refrigerator. The kitchen sinks get water from a small rain collection tank; guests are recommended to bring their own drinking water. There is space for two people to sleep comfortably, and linens, pillows and blankets are included. Additional space on the pallet couch allows for a third guest. A no-flush, composting toilet can be found in a separate, private outhouse next to the main structure, and guests will have to utilize a nearby coin shower if they want to wash up. The off-grid nature of this space means that occupants will have to sacrifice AC, but the Airbnb stay does have a fan and plenty of windows. + Airbnb Images via Airbnb

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Solar-powered dome in the Texas desert is the perfect place to go off the grid

Go off the grid with a Tesla-powered adventure vehicle by Ready.Set.Van.

July 14, 2020 by  
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After finishing an ambitious, 8-month-long renovation project of a 38-foot school bus for Burning Man, the designers at Ready.Set.Van. realized they had something special on their hands. Fast forward to 2020, and the company has launched a wide range of comfortable and functional off-grid vans that are customizable to any type of adventure. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/ready-set-van-2-889×592.jpg" alt="van with side door open parked in a forest" class="wp-image-2274822" Ready.Set.Van. recently revealed its line of converted van models built using Ram Promaster commercial cargo vans. By harnessing the power of Tesla batteries to increase the comfort of off-grid living, the New Jersey-based company has certainly raised the bar for van life . Related: Custom camper van lets nomads immerse themselves in infinite adventures <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/ready-set-van-3-889×592.jpg" alt="van parked beside a river with view of van interior with white kitchen with wood counters" class="wp-image-2274821" Thanks to Tesla battery modules, each van layout comes with a highly efficient electricity system that allows you to live off of the grid without the need for an electrical outlet or generator. The company’s 840 AH battery system is designed to take up 57% less space and weigh 140 pounds less than an equally sized 12V lithium battery. That means 12-15 hours worth of battery life along with alternator charging and solar panels . <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/ready-set-van-4-889×661.jpg" alt="On the left, white storage drawers in a van. On the right, bike stored in a van." class="wp-image-2274820" The standard “Basecamper” layout starts at $33,750, not including the van itself, with deluxe bathroom “Plus” models starting at $42,250. The base model has enough storage space for at least two downhill mountain bikes in its gear-storage garage below the bed. Ready.Set.Van. has fit up to two bikes, two inflatable stand up paddle boards, two single-wheel skateboards and more inside the garage in the past. The $45,750 “Wanderer” model features a transforming layout complete with a Murphy bed that converts a portion of the van into a dining area with room for up to six people. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/ready-set-van-5-889×667.jpg" alt="van with wood flooring and white lofted bed" class="wp-image-2274818" Kitchens include commercial-induction cooktops, 80L fridges and stainless sinks, while the rest of the interiors contain a wealth of convenient storage and seating. Clients can also choose additional features such as air conditioning, heating, awnings, roof racks and indoor showers. Buyers can also choose to create a completely custom conversion build. + Ready.Set.Van. Images via Ready.Set.Van .

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Go off the grid with a Tesla-powered adventure vehicle by Ready.Set.Van.

These solar-powered cabins are made of natural materials and shungite plaster

June 29, 2020 by  
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The Karg Cabin provides owners with a cozy opportunity for off-grid living with 100% solar-power capabilities (and that’s not even its most sustainable feature). These honeycombed-shaped micro-homes are also made completely out of natural materials . The solar-powered Karg Cabins come in three different designs: a standard cabin, a micro-home (measuring about 129 to 215 square feet) and a sauna. Karg Cabins can be used year-round and are easily transported via flatbed to a variety of rural or urban locations without a need for environmentally damaging foundations. Solar energy is used to provide 100% of the power needed for everything from lighting to ventilation to electrical sockets. Related: Check out these amazing sustainable cabins by ZeroCabin The compact design, ease of transportation and variety of different model types makes the Karg perfect for a traveling office, guest house, micro-home or just a spot to detox and disconnect from normal, everyday life. When it comes to building materials, the company chooses only those that can be found in nature. The majority of the structure consists of straw panels, cellulose wool for insulation , wood and shungite, a type of carbon-rich mineral found in Russia that is known for its healing properties. The straw panels help ensure proper insulation due to its ability to store heat and provide long-term, stable temperatures indoors. Cellulose wool collects moisture and is breathable enough to maintain a comfortable interior climate yet strong enough to eliminate condensation and keep the construction damage-free during the wet season. Shungite plaster is believed to block electromagnetic waves (EMF), improving the sleep quality of those living inside the home and keeping the interior very quiet. Triple-glazed, reflective windows help bring in natural light and connect the occupant with the outside environment. The Estonian company offers an online feature where those interested can build their own Karg on the website to find out exactly how much their personalized, off-grid cabin or sauna will cost. + Karg Images via Karg

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These solar-powered cabins are made of natural materials and shungite plaster

Prefab, floating waterlilliHaus is completely self-sustaining in Brazil

June 15, 2020 by  
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Brazilian construction company SysHaus has recently installed a new prefab home that generates its own energy as it floats on an idyllic São Paulo lake. Dubbed the waterlilliHaus, the plug-and-play home is the floating version of the lilliHaus, the largest option in SysHaus’ lineup of prefab homes. The waterlilliHaus measures 3.2 meters wide by 12 meters in length and is mounted atop a floating catamaran that can be moored or sailed at speeds of up to 4 knots. Modern, eco-friendly and adaptable, the prefab home series produced by São Paulo-based SysHaus comes in a range of sizes from the compact 9.6-square-meter nanoHaus to the 38.4-square-meter lilliHaus. All homes are prefabricated in a controlled factory environment with automated, computer-controlled machines to ensure quality, traceability and waste minimization. The units can be assembled in less than two days and can even be delivered with all of the furnishings and equipment pre-installed.  Related: This eco-friendly prefab home was built in just 28 days In keeping with the startup’s commitment to sustainability, all Syshaus units can be designed for off-grid use, such as the recently installed waterlilliHaus that was delivered by truck and then craned atop a catamaran at the lake. Topped with rooftop solar panels, the floating home generates all of the energy it needs. Blackwater and graywater is collected and filtered through a three-phase biodigester system; the water is cleaned before it is returned to the environment. Rainwater is also collected and treated for drinking water. To reduce energy demands, the waterlilliHaus is punctuated with operable openings to take advantage of natural ventilation and the stack effect . Energy-efficient lighting, appliances and other electrical systems can be hooked up to a centralized smart home system for remote monitoring. The smart home system can be programmed to adapt to the user’s daily routines for energy-saving automation purposes. + SysHaus Images via SysHaus

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Prefab, floating waterlilliHaus is completely self-sustaining in Brazil

Vibrant office building in India is made of recycled shipping containers

June 15, 2020 by  
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Sustainability and cost-effectiveness were top requirements when a green concrete manufacturing company in Bangalore, India approached Balan and Nambisan Architects. The clients were looking to keep an element of eco-friendliness and recycling at the center of the design. As such, the architects found shipping containers to be the obvious choice for construction. Shipping containers presented a versatile, cost-effective option that still had the potential to make a statement both in the local community and in the sustainable design world. The result was a compact, 1,500-square-foot office space made of four separate recycled containers, aptly named Colorfully Contained Experiences. The building includes a workstation, an experience center, a dining area, an outdoor deck and bathrooms. A ramp connects the separate containers, and a glass-encased staircase interconnects all of the floors. Related: Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India Bright primary colors intentionally provide a sharp contrast to the uniformed buildings and factories in the surrounding area as a way to draw attention from potential customers. The bright red, blue and yellow colors also contrast the abundance of gray concrete that the company manufactures onsite. Meanwhile, the shipping containers maintain the same industrial style of the other buildings in the area while still boasting individuality. Because some shipping container structures tend to overheat in the summer months, and especially given the extreme temperatures that India experiences, insulation was a main focus for the project. The designers included passive cooling elements and insulation using rock wool and strand board paneling for the ceiling and walls. The containers were arranged around a water feature to provide a cooling effect in the courtyard, while windows and openings were placed strategically to allow for natural ventilation. Balan and Nambisan Architects paid special attention to drainage as well to ensure that the exterior surfaces stayed clear of rust in the event of heavy rain. + Balan and Nambisan Architects Images via Balan and Nambisan Architects

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Vibrant office building in India is made of recycled shipping containers

Hawk Nest House combines rammed earth and local stone

June 15, 2020 by  
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This stunning 4,585 square foot home in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico exemplifies sustainable  indoor-outdoor living  at its finest. In 2018, architecture firm FabrikG completed the home, which is located in an off-grid community about five and a half miles from downtown San Jose del Cabo on the East Cape hillside. It was constructed using  rammed earth  with locally-sourced stone and designed with passive solar principles. Paired with unobstructed ocean views and abundant outdoor spaces, Hawk Nest House creates a balanced harmony with the natural surroundings. The home’s east side consists of three rammed earth volumes situated around an outdoor common area, with a walkway leading to the property’s best sea views. A tile vaulted roof covers the living room, and the kitchen’s arched entrance is also made of rammed earth. A small patio off the kitchen offers even more ocean views. In addition to the  solar panels , which provide enough power to sustain the entire property, designers also included a water treatment plant to reuse water for irrigation when needed. Related: Mexican winery built from recycled wood and rammed earth blends into the valley landscape The main living quarters are located in the house’s right wing, connected with a wooden walkway. There are two master bedrooms, plus two bathrooms surrounding a patio with an outdoor shower, tub and local  stone walls. Apart from the main house, there is also a garage, a rammed earth guest house and a small, vaulted meditation room. The owner, an artist, has a studio situated on the northeast end of the property. For the landscaping, native desert plants on the patios and outside property require little to no irrigation.  According to the architects, this type of construction using rammed earth and traditional local stone masonry is advantageous in arid climates. The thermal mass of the thick earth walls regulates temperatures throughout the day and night, while the openness of the house encourages cross-ventilation . Unique elements are found throughout the home, including windows accented with sustainably-sourced and naturally-treated wood, and exterior walls treated with charred wood and coated in natural oil (a Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban).  + FabrikG Via ArchDaily Images via FabrikG

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Hawk Nest House combines rammed earth and local stone

Interactive maps show top 10 states for off-grid lifestyles

April 9, 2020 by  
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Homesteading was a way of life for generations while the world developed industrialization and created cities of infrastructure. Over time, modern conveniences and the fast pace of business encouraged an increasing number of people to move into urban areas and/or reduce self-reliance in favor of easily accessible supermarkets and mail-order food. But in recent years, a resurgence of homesteading has shown that uncertain times have resulted in people returning to the basics of gardening , farming, food preservation and finding ways to be off-grid.  A recent data collection report by HomeAdvisor consolidated information from across Instagram to find out how many people are subscribing to a simpler way of life. Interestingly, the results show clusters of communities seemingly sharing common values in certain areas across the United States. Related: Do people in tiny houses live more sustainably? The information was gathered based on three commonly used hashtags (#homesteading, #tinyliving , and #offgridliving ), and then geolocation data identified the hot spots. Each of these lifestyles focuses on some level of self-sufficiency and cost savings. Homesteading is mainly about self-sufficiency. You’ll find homesteaders growing their own food, generating their own power and making their own clothes. Tiny living is a lifestyle that leaves a smaller footprint on the world. Tiny houses and tiny living are about simplification, a lower cost of living and using fewer resources. Living off-grid is a broad category that includes tiny living and homesteading. It also means disappearing from staples of society like the electric grid, schooling and the internet.  The reasons for heading towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle are varied, ranging from a fear of pandemics, an increase in surveillance infringing on privacy and concern for the environment. Regardless of the exact reasons, freedom,  lowering one’s carbon footprint  and a sense of independence seem to be at the core of the movement.  While there are abundant hashtags for any of these lifestyles, the study targeted these three as the best sources of information on the topic. The data was then consolidated and prepared for visual consumption by converting it into interactive maps and infographics . The method of collection eliminated Instagram posts without a location and those outside the United States. “To create these visualizations, we collected data by “scraping” it. Scraping is a technique that gathers large amounts of data from websites. In this case, we wrote a custom script in Python to get the data for each hashtag. The script collected information including the number of likes, number of comments, location, etc. for posts with each of the three lifestyle hashtags. The python script also collects data that human users can’t see, like specific location information about where the post was published from,” HomeAdvisor said on its website. When it comes to the United States and off-grid living as a whole, the interactive map gives a snapshot of the trend with the larger circles showing clusters. Moving into more specific information, homesteading may not be as rural as one might expect. In fact, large numbers of homesteaders are balancing backyard beehives , chickens and crops with a daily commute. One might also think homesteading is associated with life on the west coast. While that’s partly true, there are communities up and down the east coast squashing the idea that high populace and running your own farm don’t go hand-in-hand. As seen on the Top 10 States for #Homesteading map, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York all have active homesteading communities. Austin, Texas and Livermore, Colorado are Insta-proud of their homesteads too. On the west coast, the Seattle area in Washington and larger cities such as L.A. and San Diego in California top the list in the number of homesteaders posting their fresh eggs and veggies. For off-grid living, the map looks a little different. Here we find that numbers might be a bit skewed, considering off-grid technically means off social media, but the images are still there as a basis to understand the trends. By the Insta-numbers, Kimberly, Alabama comes in at the top of the off-grid areas, but since many of the posts are from the same Airbnb location, HomeAdvisor calculates that California takes the prize for the most off-gridders. This isn’t too surprising for a state that just mandated all new home constructions must include  solar panels . The four corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are all in the top 10 for off-grid living, in addition to New York, Florida, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska. The  tiny home movement  might be a bit hard to track for the mobile types, but on the road or not, Instagram is full of #tinyliving examples. The resulting map shows all three west coast states (California, Oregon and Washington) taking part in the trend. Florida, North Carolina and New York are active on the east coast, and Utah, Colorado and Arizona house the tiny movement too. Texas rounds out the #tinyliving top 10 list.  In conclusion, an increasing number of #homesteading Americans are going back to their roots of growing crops and raising cattle. Meanwhile, the #tinyliving community looks for ways to minimize their impact on the land, and #offgridliving continues to be difficult to accurately track, at least through the likes of Instagram. + HomeAdvisor  Images via HomeAdvisor

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Interactive maps show top 10 states for off-grid lifestyles

Snazzy garden shed doubles as rainwater runoff solution

April 9, 2020 by  
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When most people think of a garden shed, they more than likely conjure up simple images of utilitarian boxes stored with barely-used tools and oodles of clutter. However, when Maryland-based practice  Gardner Architects  was tasked with installing a small garden shed for homeowners in the community of Bethesda, they came up with a gorgeous  100-square-foot shed  that not only blends in harmoniously with the main home, but actively helps manage stormwater runoff to be re-used as irrigation for the native plants found on the property. Although the task of building a garden shed may seem pretty straightforward at first, in reality, the team from Gardner Architects came up against quite a few challenges before they could get to work on the design. First and foremost, the landscape surrounding the main home is comprised of dense woodland, which the homeowners wanted to protect at all costs, meaning that no trees could be removed to make space for the shed. The solution then was to build the shed just mere steps away from the home, preserving all of the trees  found on the property’s .34 acres. Related: Studio Sprout’s backyard greenhouse combines stylish form with fabulous function As part of a recent  renovation of the main house , the shed design would become part of a larger master plan for managing rainwater on the property. Working with  Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture , the resulting shed design was created to be respectful to the ecology of the home’s surroundings. To protect the natural vegetation, for example, the design team hired an arborist to help the construction process avoid damaging any underground tree roots. The structure is set into a small corner just steps away from the main home. Extremely compact at just 100 square feet, the shed is clad in tight-knot board-and-batten siding. Sliding doors made from  cedar boards  were set on metal tracks to open completely, making it easier to access. To embed the design with a proper  rainwater rerouting system , the roof was slightly slanted to allow water to slowly run down the hillside, where it would be re-routed into a drain made out of large stones. The system allows the water to slowly be absorbed into the planting beds located between the shed and the main house. In addition to its rainwater system, the project also centered around protecting the natural setting to attract healthy critters to the area. “Site maintenance is also a component of a natural habitat,” Honeyman said. “We have left tree snags onsite to attract insects and the birds attracted to them. Not clearing the underbrush and leaf litter provides environments for a multitude of insects to overwinter.” Now that the structure is completed, the homeowners will be working with the landscaping team to add a  pollinator garden  to the property. + Gardner Architects + Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture Via Houzz Photography by John Cole

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Snazzy garden shed doubles as rainwater runoff solution

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