'Tiny House,' that began at NU as an engeering-class project in sustainable design, is now en route to its new location at the Evanston Ecology Center.Photo by Fred Schneider

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What began as an engineering-class project at Northwestern University in sustainable design will end up as a permanent exhibit at the Ecology Center. The Tiny House was moved earlier this month from the NU campus to the parking lot of the City’s Service Center on Simpson Street. If all goes well, the house will be in its permanent location on the Ecology Center grounds by the annual Green Living Festival on Sept. 28, said Fred Schneider, president of the Evanston Environmental Association.

Even though few might choose to live in such small quarters as these, the 128-square-foot house, created over 18 months by engineering students from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science serves as a model of sustainable living.

Environmentally friendly components of the house include Forest Service Certified wood, an Enviroshake roof composed of 95 percent recovered plastic, LED lighting, bamboo flooring, low-emission (low-E) coating windows and Icynene spray foam insulation. Oversized awnings collect rainwater, and solar panels collect sunlight for power.

When the house was on display on campus in 2012, engineering student Andrea Morgan, who helped build the house, said it operates with zero net energy. “In the United States many people tend to live in mansions or houses that are a lot bigger than they actually need,” she said. “This is a rather dramatic example, but it goes to show that if you are living in a smaller space, you are using less energy.”

The Tiny House made its transfer to the City’s service center on Simpson Street on Aug. 13, whence it will be transferred next month. Chemical engineering graduate student Randall Waymire, another Tiny House team member, said, “We’re totally happy that the Tiny House [will have] a new home at the Ecology Center, and people can continue to enjoy it in the future.”

Claire Alden, program manager at the Ecology Center, said, “I’m really excited about the move. I’m also grateful to the Northwestern Tiny House students, the Evanston Environmental Association and the City for making this happen. We can’t wait for it to get to its permanent home at the Ecology Center.”

Assistant Director of Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Bob Dorneker said, “We’re absolutely elated that this day has arrived. … It marks another excellent example of cooperation between Northwestern University and the City.”

Mr. Schneider said he had been working on ways to bring the Tiny House to the Ecology Center since it was completed by the students two years ago.

“This is an important step for the Ecology Center,” he said. “When the Tiny House is finally moved to its permanent location at the Ecology Center, it will provide the community with a novel way to learn how to live more sustainably. We’re just happy to have played a role in making it happen.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...