mountain modern begins life again

Here’s to new beginnings: a mountain modern prefab built where wildfire had burned down David and Kristen’s dream place two years earlier. The couple is now downsizing from 1,200 to 500 square feet of living space.

This 500 sq. ft. “mountain mansion” was first constructed at Cabin Fever’s warehouse in Florida, packed up and delivered to Colorado, and finished locally. (Tiny House Nation)

This 500 sq. ft. “mountain mansion” was first constructed at Cabin Fever’s warehouse in Florida, packed up and delivered to Colorado, and finished locally. (Tiny House Nation)

As featured on the Tiny House Nation TV show, this aerie is off-grid with solar power and some propane gas, a deep well and (we think) a septic system. Did we mention the amazing views?

The owners have  breath-taking views of the Colorado Front Range, not far from Denver. Their terrace is postcard perfect. (Tiny House Nation)

The owners have breath-taking views of the Colorado Front Range, not far from Denver. Their terrace is postcard perfect. (Tiny House Nation)

Take an inside house tour

This Colorado home supports more internal uses than you might expect! There’s an open great room, modern kitchen, bath, two small offices and sleeping loft with closets. The height in the home is the clincher.

In this loft bedroom, there's a 15-foot ceiling and closets for the couple. You ascend by steep stairs. (Tiny House Nation)

In this loft bedroom, there’s a 15-foot ceiling and closets for the couple. You ascend by steep stairs. (Tiny House Nation)

Software integrator David has his own office and desk, which transforms into a guest bed as needed. (Tiny House Nation)

Software integrator David has his own office and desk, which transforms into a guest bed as needed. (Tiny House Nation)

Next to David, Kristen writes books and consults from her own office with a desk, daybed and views. (Tiny House Nation)

Next to David, Kristen writes books and consults from her own office with a desk, daybed and views. (Tiny House Nation)

This Colorado home features a modern bathroom with a hip shower, sink and flush toilet. (Tiny House Nation)

This Colorado home features a modern bathroom with a hip shower, sink and flush toilet. (Tiny House Nation)

The Coloradans wanted a full gas range and stove, large sink and custom refrigerator in their home. (Tiny House Nation)

The Coloradans wanted a full gas range and stove, large sink and custom refrigerator in their home. (Tiny House Nation)

Here's the great room view into the Colorado home, with the bathroom to right and kitchen to left. (Tiny House Nation)

Here’s the great room view into the Colorado home, with the bathroom to right and kitchen to left. (Tiny House Nation)

More access: Want video? Tiny House Nation offers clips from the “Rocky Mountain Mansion” episode. The show is free online, and soon will transition access via your cable provider here. You may also pay $2.99 to view itunes.

those solar decathlon homes

Have you heard about Solar Decathlons? College teams build energy-saving homes for a biennial competition, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy. Afterwards, many houses become residences or are available for tours.

The 2013 Decathlon winner

Vienna University of Technology students built a beautiful and energy-surplus home. They plan to make this winning model commercially available to urban and rural customers, starting in Austria. Here’s a quick tour.

Known as LISI, or Living Inspired for Sustainable Innovation, the Austrian entry offers a calming, zen impact.

Known as LISI, or Living Inspired for Sustainable Innovation, the Austrian entry offers a calming, zen impact. (DOE 2013)

Vienna students created a Mad-Men type of great room, with areas for cooking, dining and hanging out.

Vienna students created a Mad-Men type of great room, with areas for cooking, dining and hanging out. (DOE 2013)

A sustainable, upscale looking bathroom has been installed in the Austrian prototype home. (DOE 2013)

A sustainable, upscale looking bathroom has been installed in the Austrian prototype home. (DOE 2013)

There is nothing flashy about the Decathlon winner's private and cozy pod space for sleeping. (DOE 2013)

There is nothing flashy about the Decathlon winner’s private and cozy pod space for sleeping. (DOE 2013)

Earlier Decathlon competitors

The U.S. Solar Decathlon has been held six times, first in Washington, DC and lately in Irvine, CA. Let’s take a look at special homes over the years, including their post-competition whereabouts.

Appalachian State students built home modules connected by a solar panel porch. Today a modified version is available through Deltec, a North Carolina homebuilder. (2011 DOE)

Appalachian State students built home modules connected by a solar panel porch. Today a modified version is available through Deltec, a North Carolina homebuilder. (2011 DOE)

Santa Clara University students created a tube-shaped home that won top awards for architecture and communications. Back on campus, it's used for research purposes. (2009 DOE)

Santa Clara University students created a tube-shaped home that won top awards for architecture and communications. Back on campus, it’s used for research purposes. (2009 DOE)

A Le Corbusier-style stunner was built by students from Spain, Central and South America. Madrid students continue making home improvements in their materials courses. (2007 DOE)

A Le Corbusier-style stunner was built by students from Spain, Central and South America. Madrid students continue making home improvements in their materials courses. (2007 DOE)

Virginia Tech students won the top architectural award for their energy-efficient marvel. Today the home resides at Richmond's Science Museum of Virginia. (2005 DOE)

Virginia Tech students won the top architectural award for their energy-efficient marvel. Today the home resides at Richmond’s Science Museum of Virginia. (2005 DOE)

Crowder College students received the People's Choice award for a not-so-small home. It's one of two Decathlon entries now displayed at the Missouri school. (2002 DOE)

Crowder College students received the People’s Choice award for a not-so-small home. It’s one of two Decathlon entries now displayed at the Missouri school. (2002 DOE)

More Decathlon details

Fortunately, Decathlon archives are open and accessible. To start, we suggest clicking on a year below. You might pick a college and read about its home, or else select one (of 10) contest categories and compare homes.

Summary | 2013 US | 2011 US | 2009 US | 2007 US | 2005 US | 2002 US
Results | 2013 US | 2011 US | 2009 US | 2007 US | 2005 US | 2002 US

solar roof with heat and power

An open letter to Elon Musk:

We appreciate your commitment to solar power, as chairman of Solar City. Making photovoltaic cells available on a wide scale is an important mission, and these panels work for many homeowners. Improving panel efficiency through your Silevo acquisition is good news, since consumers could install fewer of them. We wish you (and others) much success.

New heat and power roof: The top solar layer, seen here, generates electricity. Then heated air gets trapped between layers for heating purposes. (Renew Economy, Australia)

New Heat and Power Roof: The top solar layer, seen here, generates electricity. Then heated air gets trapped between layers for heating purposes. (Renew Economy, Australia)

What are your plans? Combining solar collection and heating elements is now possible. Australians just replaced an old metal roof with the first building integrated photovoltaic thermal (BIPVT) system, on a Sydney-area house. It creates air flow which heats water or air as well. This $5 million project was funded by a government grant and BlueScope, a steel manufacturer.

What happens next? Investment leading to manufacturing the BIPVT roof lies ahead. While in test phases, this technology may also need support to reach consumers. It’s already undergone five years of feasibility, pilot and material studies from research universities. (See results from “steel BIPVT” search.)

Should we fast-track? Maybe you can help cheer-lead, assess and lead the demand for this next-gen roof — even with others in the solar industry. We are not experts, and look forward to hearing what you think!

Sincerely,

Tiny House Joy