The wildly successful Swedish company, Ikea, is seeking to move ecologically optimized tiny houses to the mainstream. These tiny houses, or trailers around 200 square feet, bear the company’s trademark airy and minimalist style and retail for around $50,000.With Ikea’s emphasis on recycled and reusable materials, the company seems likely to accelerate some important shifts in the housing market. Ikea has made an investment in sustainability as a corporate value: It’s launched major initiatives involving its own supply chain, is leading climate friendly business coalitions and is spearheading environmental philanthropy around the world.
Ikea’s tiny buildings emit zero pollution, including carbon. The homes are solar-powered and all-electric, which means the only emissions come from being towed. The use of rooftop solar panels to generate power and the replacement of propane heating with a heat pump run by those solar panels is likely to become the standard in many states for manufactured homes. The growing presence of tiny houses is likely to encourage customers toward less wasteful designs with smaller footprints. Ikea’s focus on reusable components means that manufactured home companies will be moved in that direction.
There is plenty of historic precedent for fabricating new buildings from the skeletons of old ones. Late in the Roman Republic, the reuse of materials from an old building became a major source of materials – so much so that emperors enacted laws prohibiting the unauthorized destruction of existing structures.
So perhaps the lesson from tiny houses is truly fundamental: Small is beautiful, as well as sustainable.
You can read the original article by Carl Pope, former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club, at www.nbcnews.com