The tiny house movement is a fascinating trend that draws attention to one of the greatest problems with the housing industry; how big our homes have become. But the custom homes being built on trailer beds have many limitations, mainly because they need to comply with the rules of the road as a vehicle. So they aren’t all great, but they aren’t all bad. To start off on a positive note here's the one we think is the best tiny house ever made (or at least that we’ve seen to date). 

Are tiny houses eco-friendly?

While we love the idea of compact living, driving a tiny house around is hardly good for your personal carbon footprint, so they don’t always equate to being an eco-friendly green home. Read more here about the downsides of tiny houses. But our biggest beef with tiny houses would be the F250 Super Duty truck you need to pull it around, because there aren’t a lot of places where you can park and live in a tiny house. 

That brings us to this new one, the tiny house with a portable greenhouse. Without mincing words, my first thought is – you’ve got to be joking. Anyone who builds and lives in a tiny house, and wants a greenhouse for growing their own food is likely to be someone who leans towards wanting a green lifestyle; but this sure ain't it. 

Without a doubt this is super cute, and a real head turner, but pulling a greenhouse down the highway for the two months it takes a tomato to grow so you can make a sandwich, to us does not fall within the parameters of 'green home building'. 

Mobile tiny house with attached greenhouse
Mobile Tiny house with attached greenhouse

Granted, if you have a piece of land where you can park it for extended periods, that’s great. In all but exceptional circumstances, a truly energy-efficient and eco-friendly home should be stationary, not mobile. Most cities and municipalities will have regulations prohibiting the long term parking of RVs in laneways, and therein lies a big part of the problem; most often you need to keep them moving, and that takes fuel. 

 As long as this thing stays put, then no great harm here and I take back my zippy critique. Jack it up and take the tires off so they don't rot in the ground and you've got my full retraction.

Otherwise, just consider what needs to happen here – you have to take your home where it needs to go, then drive back and get your greenhouse. Two trips hauling trailers around. 

Greenhouses and growing food in cold climates

The climate impact of food production is already very high; we don’t need to find ways to make it higher by trucking a load of soil and a greenhouse around for no apparent reason. See here for more on the impact of our diets on climate change to get a better perspective. 

This is slightly reminiscent of the Earthship, a housing catastrophe that paints itself as a solution to the global housing and climate change crisis. Poppycock. The world is facing resource depletion and a climate crisis - so we need to keep our eye on the ball and be wary of well-intended designs that actually make matters worse.

No one at an RV dealership is telling prospective clients that they should haul their homes around in order to help save the planet from rising sea levels. I think it's pretty clear that when you buy a fully-loaded RV with the intention of hitting the open road, the intention is more likely to get a bumper sticker that says "this monstrosity climbed Mount Washington" than to reduce your personal carbon footprint.

But at least an RV has been designed with aerodynamics in mind to reduce fuel consumption; we've not seen a lot of that within the tiny-house living trend. For the most part they seem to be designed to get that old traditional house look with back porches, gable roofs and dormers.

Perhaps it's the absurdity of it all that winds me up. At the same time that car manufacturers are working to cut emissions and improve mileage, there are those within the 'Eco' community who are building minimally-insulated Victorian-like homes and pulling them down the highway with back porch swings and roosters on weather vanes spinning at 5000 RPMs. You might as well be pulling an open parachute. 

We need to call a spade a spade folks; this is a cute, but it also makes for a particularly high-carbon footprint lifestyle / vehicle / home. It's always best to build your homes and greenhouses on solid ground, unless you're on the run from the law and need to be ready to flee in the middle of the night. With a tomato. 

If the owner of this clever building stumbles across this article – please understand I think your home is beautiful (as seen in the photos), and congratulations for living your dream. But I feel it is important to point out that this is far from being an ‘eco home’ unless you’re able to find long-term parking where you can relax and enjoy staying still.

Kitchen and dining area in Mobile tiny house
Tiny house galley kitchen and dining area 
Natural light in spacious tiny House loft bedroom
Spacious tiny house bedroom with plenty of natural light

 

Now you know more about this Tiny House with a Greenhouse, find more pages about Tiny Homes & sustainable & resilient green building techniques here : 

Find more about green home construction in the EcoHome Green Building Guide pages