MorningStar Solar Home

MorningStar home, built by the Penn State Center for Sustainability has been around since 2007, but it will hopefully be the home of the near future. The 799 square foot building is a net-zero home that produces more energy than it consumes, and it has been used for educational and research activities on the university campus. It will also serve has a home for one lucky graduate student who will test the house systems in real life conditions.

The MorningStar not only has solar panels on the roof, but on the east- and west-facing sides of the home. The south-facing windows have sliding exterior shelving to regulate solar gain and the home has a sliding wall of liquid glass containers that, when filled with water, can retain heat during the day and release the warmth into the home during the night. Continue reading

William’s Floating Teepee

William Woodbridge is a 21 year old second year university student. He has a unique way of looking at life and how he lives as a student is quite different than the usual.

Williams lives in a teepee and a floating teepee at that. Will says “It’s deliciously hippyish.”

Will's Teepee

Will decided to leave campus life after accidentally setting off a fire alarm and then being fined $350. At first, Will lived in the back of his car, he than decided to build a raft and looked at what options he would have for shelter. He looked at cabin-type tents and finally his uncle suggested a teepee. Continue reading

Swedish Student House

The popularity of Stieg Larsson’s books, and subsequent movies, about a certain tattooed girl has given rise to a new-found love of Swedish design. Sweden’s Technical Week website recently had a story on a 94 square foot tiny home that celebrates that clean design, but is also making a statement at the same time.

This experimental, free-standing tiny home for students has a kitchen, a bath with a shower, a corner office and an eating area with two chairs. A sleeping loft is accessed by a ladder. This home will rent for 30,000 Swedish crowns ($4,400) a year, when most student housing in Sweden rents for about 50,000 ($7,700) crowns a year. The country has a lack of affordable student housing and most seekers have to stand in line for an available place to live. This home will be rented out for three years to one person who can give the best reason why they should have the house. Continue reading

Baggins End Domes

Baggins End, on the campus of the University of California, Davis is a small community of undergraduate and graduate students who live together in a bundle of round, white domes among several acres of community gardens, chicken coops, trees and flowers. Sounds idyllic, right? The students think so and are prepared to fight for their little slice of heaven. Recently, the university has determined that the domes are no longer safe for residential use and plan to shut down the Domes and Baggins End this summer.

The university’s student housing department said the Domes are not up to code, are not Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant, and not worth spending money on to salvage. Supporters of the Domes claim the university administration has neglected these issues for decades and is trying to make a land grab, motivated by budget cuts and pressure to squeeze every last dollar out of campus real estate.

Sacramento News & Review Article on Baggins End

Sacramento Public Radio Story on Baggins End

The Domes have been on the campus since 1972 and are constructed of three to four inches of polyurethane foam surrounded by a fiberglass shell. A few of the Domes are beginning to delaminate. Baggins End (named after the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins from The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is comprised of 14 domes housing 28 students where they emphasize cooperation and sustainability. The students grow a lot of their own food and raise chickens and a rooster named Chamomile. The Domes are around 450 square feet and contain a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms or a sleeping loft, heating and skylights. The students are allowed to perform their own construction projects and have access to the community’s free materials yard, fire pit,  garden and tool shed, compost pile, greenhouse and the weekly potluck dinners. Each resident pays $2,712 for a year long lease. Continue reading