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  • Temple Tiny House Brings Big Learning Opportunities to Campus temple-tiny-house Full view

    Temple Tiny House Brings Big Learning Opportunities to Campus

    Tiny houses are all the rage in the world of sustainability. Tiny houses (AKA houses that are less than 1000 square feet) allow you to downsize your life and get rid of “stuff.”

    Another significant benefit is that they could actually help with the urban housing crisis since tiny houses can also free people from debt.

    Temple Tiny House as an Interactive Learning Tool

    Temple University has brought a Tiny House to North Philadelphia. Located on the corner of Broad and Diamond, the tiny house is a sustainable building that serves as a university demonstration project and serves as a shed in Temple’s community garden. Many different disciplines came together to build this tiny house literally from the ground up.

    “This really allows a general way to show sustainability on a small scale,” as Katherine Switala Elmhurst, program manager of Temple’s Office of Sustainability and the Tiny House, said.

    Temple’s community garden has started a farm stand with produce grown in the urban environment as part of their food access program. They have garden hours on Friday afternoons during the primary growing season. “This will help benefit the larger community by making the food connection, growing and preparing food and expanding access.”

    It is an entirely sustainable site. There is no connection to city water; instead there is 50 sq ft roof for stormwater management, as they collect rain barrels to collect stormwater runoff specifically for garden use. They have a composting toilet and an off the grid solar array with a salt water battery storage. The exterior is even made out of cork.

    “The building itself is offering future learning opportunities.” Switala Elmhurst said. “Since its opening in April, one thing that came out of it is that two students designed the landscape architecture outside the tiny house and through volunteer efforts we were able to get that planted in October.”

    This presents another learning opportunity because the students are acting as project managers to get tiny house certified,” said Switala Elmhurst. Temple’s tiny house is registered under the comprehensive green building certification, Living Building Challenge, which two other students are currently working on.

    Temple is helping to maintain the building, as per their agreement for putting the tiny house on their campus.

    Tiny Houses Educate the Community Beyond Temple

    It’s an opportunity to show the community how to live sustainably as well. “People walk by all the time and ask what the building is about,” said Switala Elmhurst. “We hope that it will continue to offer these learning opportunities for Temple and the surrounding communities,” said Switala Elmhurst.


    Photo: Temple

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    Meg Milligan

    About Meg Milligan

    Megan Milligan is a journalism student at Temple University. She loves writing about people's lives and the issues that affect them. Rarely will you ever see her without coffee in her hands.

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