'Tiny Home' for Sparty a paradigm of MSU student entrepreneurship

How about a 180 sq. ft. cabin for Sparty that incorporates state-of-the-art, sustainable building techniques?

Kirk Heinze, Pat Crawford (SPDC) and Tiffany Pupa (MSU Interior Design student). Photo courtesy of Greening of the Great Lakes.

'Tiny Home' for Sparty a paradigm of MSU student entrepreneurship and commitment to more sustainable living

By: Kirk Heinze, Greening of the Great Lakes
How about a 180 sq. ft. cabin for Sparty that incorporates state-of-the-art, sustainable building techniques?

Drawing on the popularity of the "Tiny House, Big Living" television show and the internationally expanding tiny home movement, a group of MSU students in the School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) have developed a plan to build a tiny home on the MSU campus. "Sparty's Cabin" will not only serve educational purposes; it will eventually go on the market to raise funds for future student projects and a local charity.

"The Tiny House movement is fundamentally about a cultural change—about how do I live a rich life without being encumbered or held back by possessions," says Dr. Pat Crawford, associate director of SPDC and advisor to the student group. "But you don't have to be in a tiny house to embrace the movement because we all can all make decisions every day that will lower our impact on the environment, regardless of the size of our homes."

For the U.S. Green Building Students (USGBC), MSU, building a tiny home seemed like an ideal entrepreneurial opportunity.

"One of the things our group does is to explore trends and developments in sustainable living," says Tiffany Pupa, an interior design senior who wrote the small house proposal recently approved by MSU administration. "Once we got started on this project, everyone got extremely excited, and we just went to work without really worrying whether it would be approved."

According to Pupa, the house will take about 12 days to build, and construction will occur near the MSU Recycling Center. The house will have two floors. The first floor has a great room, bedroom, bath and kitchen, and the second floor is a sleeping loft. The home will have electrical energy with "traditional hookups that can be retrofitted later for renewable energy."

Because of building size codes, the tiny house must be situated on a trailer, which serves as the home's foundation. Coincidentally, this will enable students to easily transport the house to demonstration/education sites around the state. Eventually, the home will be sold with proceeds helping to fund subsequent student projects and to support a local charity.

However, Pupa cautions, tiny home living is not for everyone. "Moving into a tiny house is a lifestyle change, and you have to mentally prepare yourself to lead a minimalist lifestyle."

"It is exciting and gratifying to work with these young people," Crawford says. "Tiffany is an amazing example of what can be done if you just come in and say, 'I have an idea.'"

MSU Sponsors of Sparty's Cabin include: USGBC Students, MSU Group; the School of Planning, Design & Construction; MSU Shadows, Department of Forestry; the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources; and MSU Sustainability, IFP. The students are also working in close collaboration with the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, experts in tiny home construction.

Listen to my conversation with Crawford and Pupa.

Please join me for Greening of the Great Lakes every Sunday evening at 7 p.m. on News/Talk 760 W JR.

Did you find this article useful?