Carleton University, the Northern Nomad
For those enchanted by the charm and ingenuity of tiny houses, prepare to embark on an enlightening journey of discovery! As you explore the nooks and crannies of this extraordinary dwelling, you’ll encounter genuinely avant-garde features. Introducing the ‘Northern Nomad,’ a tiny house that doesn’t just break the mold, but completely reinvents it!
This state-of-the-art habitat isn’t your ordinary tiny house. It’s a marvel of eco-conscious design, boasting a fully solar-powered system! From top to bottom, the Northern Nomad’s roof is an expanse of seamlessly integrated solar panels. But the innovation doesn’t stop there: there’s an atmospheric water generator prototype, top-notch insulation in the form of vacuum-insulated panels, a nifty home automation system, a space-efficient sliding loft, and much more!
The brainchild of an inspired group of students from Carleton University, the Northern Nomad symbolizes the future of green living. Today, we have the unique privilege of exploring this engineering marvel and hearing from the minds that brought it to life. We will meet with the guiding professor and four dedicated students who worked tirelessly on this high-tech, green-building project.
At the core, the Northern Nomad, as it’s affectionately named, is a zero-energy tiny home perched atop a 24′ x 8′ trailer. So what does Net Zero mean, you ask? Well, it’s simple. This house only uses as much energy as it generates over one year. With power drawn from the sun and stored in battery banks, this mobile tiny home sometimes generates more power than it consumes. During these times, the excess power is sold to the grid, and conversely, if it produces less, it buys from the grid. This seesaw of power consumption and generation strikes an annual balance – that’s the magic of Net Zero.
As you step into the Northern Nomad, you’ll notice a raised platform – the kitchen – cleverly disguising a 900-liter fresh water storage beneath. With the challenge of accommodating a loft bed, the innovative team introduced a sliding loft mechanism allowing more than 3 feet of headroom and plenty of windows. A truly efficient use of space, wouldn’t you agree?
The tiny home brims with thoughtful designs and features. Every inch serves a purpose, from benches that double as storage and electrical rooms to steps that open up to additional storage space. The unique bathroom showcases a composting toilet, eliminating the need for blackwater management. Instead of traditional glass, eco-resin panels have been employed, offering the flexibility and durability necessary for a mobile home.
A striking feature of this tiny house is its 3.6-kilowatt solar panel roof. In this unique building-integrated photovoltaics system, the panels form a seamless surface, doubling as a shield against water. The entire home is electrically powered, with no reliance on gas appliances or wood-burning stoves.
To tackle water needs, an atmospheric water generator is employed. Unlike rainwater collection, this method can produce water if the air is humid, offering a more reliable and consistent source. As for storage, a whopping 900 liters of water storage tanks are situated beneath the kitchen floor.
With vacuum-insulated panels typically used in refrigerators and freezers, this tiny house ensures optimal insulation. Various sensors are installed throughout the building envelope and the HVAC systems, monitoring temperature, moisture, solar radiation, and wind-driven rain.
An engineering marvel, the Northern Nomad boasts a digital twin – a digital copy that provides an inside look into the building’s structure and systems. This advanced model aids in preemptively identifying and resolving conflicts before construction, ensuring seamless integration of different building elements.
The tiny house has a home automation system and voice assistance to enhance efficiency. This system controls thermal aspects based on user behavior, helping to reduce power consumption where it’s unnecessary.
We must admit, we were thoroughly impressed by this tiny house design and the innovative ideas they incorporated into the building. The team of students who worked on the Northern Nomad has embarked on a mission to build its successor – Northern Nomad Version II.