In the United States the average size of new single family homes grew from 1,780 square feet in 1978 to 2,662 square feet in 2013, despite a decrease in the size of the average family. This was unacceptable to some and launched the modern tiny house movement. That much we know. What we don’t know is that an ever-increasing number of Millenials and younger are using modern technology, skilled labor, artisanship and craftsmanship, and ambition, to create small homes that personify a desire to live more while living with less. Such is the case with Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California.

Prompted by a tiny house competition hosted by Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) a group of undergraduates as well as Tim Hight, faculty sponsor, have spent the past two years creating a home from 100 sq.ft. to 400 sq.ft. that employs renewable energy, green building techniques and sustainable living, while maintaining net-zero energy. For the past two years the team has designed and built just that and on October 15, 2016, at a showcase at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California, they were named the champion of the inaugural Tiny House Competition in Sacramento.

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Photo courtesy of Joanne H. Lee/Santa Clara University
Photo courtesy of: Joanne H. Lee/Santa Clara University)
Photo courtesy of Joanne H. Lee/Santa Clara University

Santa Clara led the competition throughout the week in measured contests (lighting, energy use, hot water, etc.) and on the final day of competition, they won six of the twenty sub-categories (day lighting, integrated lighting, interior design, best kitchen, best program, and best tour) and two of the four main categories (energy and communications).

You can find out more about the contest, the house, and how to sponsor students like these by visiting the rEvolve Tiny House website.

Images of the interior of Santa Clara University's  rEvolve House during the 2016 Tiny House Competition in Sacramento on October 13, 2016.  When the contest is over, the 238-square-foot solar-powered home will go to Operation Freedom Paws (OFP), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization empowering military veterans and others with disabilities to restore their independence by teaming them up with a service dog.  Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is hosting a Tiny House Competition modeled after the Solar Decathlon created by the U.S. Department of Energy. The purpose of the competition is to explore renewable energy, green building techniques and sustainable living while constructing net-zero energy houses.   (Photo credit:  Joanne H. Lee/Santa Clara University)
Images of the interior of Santa Clara University’s rEvolve House during the 2016 Tiny House Competition in Sacramento on October 13, 2016. When the contest is over, the 238-square-foot solar-powered home will go to Operation Freedom Paws (OFP), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization empowering military veterans and others with disabilities to restore their independence by teaming them up with a service dog.
Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is hosting a Tiny House Competition modeled after the Solar Decathlon created by the U.S. Department of Energy. The purpose of the competition is to explore renewable energy, green building techniques and sustainable living while constructing net-zero energy houses.
(Photo credit: Joanne H. Lee/Santa Clara University)

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  1. Glenda Queensbury

    I am very interested in your projects. I live i, Milpitas. .Please call me 408.921.2257

  2. Catherine Nelson

    Would the university be interested in building a small home on 5 acres in Amador County. The land would need a well and septic. Electricity is on the property. Plus building an acre of solar panels to subsidize the electric.

  3. Barbara Rush

    How much did this cost to build?
    Is there a sleeping areas separate from the living area?

  4. Emily

    Murphy bed over sofa: brilliant. Looks like there’s room for an office that doubles as a living room, maybe dining room too.

  5. ZACHARY MOHRMANN

    I love the Murphy bed with the sectional add on it really adds an awesome look … I’m guessing with that bed alone it really gives the room dual purpose … It really makes for a refreshing new idea out of an old one…!

  6. Mila

    I love the deck! Wondering how the water run soff? Flat roofs are not the best for mold prevention