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April 26, 2016

Sparty’s Cabin unveiled on Earth Day

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for “Sparty’s Cabin,” a student-led project to build Michigan State University’s first tiny house, took place on Earth Day to emphasize the goal of sustainability.

The project was a collaborative effort from the start, including MSU’s student chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, faculty and staff members of the School of Planning, Design and Construction, Department of Forestry, Department of Sustainability, the Surplus Store and Recycling Center and the Breslin Center. Community experts and volunteers also participated in the construction of the tiny house.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon congratulated the team for creating a big idea and then setting it into motion.

“It doesn’t have to be a big idea in size to have an impact on the University,” Simon said. “Small things can reflect big ideas.”

Built over six weeks with the help of more than 100 people from across campus and the community, the tiny house features 177 square feet of space that sleeps three, and features both an upstairs and a downstairs.

This tiny home project includes materials from the MSU Sustainable Wood Recovery Program and Shadows Collection, which resulted in MSU-made custom countertops, shelving, barn door and a ladder.

Other materials were also selected for their sustainable qualities, including double-pane windows, recycled newspaper insulation and a composting toilet.

The structure was built on a trailer, allowing it to be transported from place to place, and includes traditional hook ups for sewer, water and electricity. It can also be retrofitted in the future to go off the grid. This would be accomplished by capturing rainwater and adding solar panels for 100 percent solar power energy.

Sparty’s Cabin will be used as an educational tool later this summer and into fall to spread awareness to the local community about this type of alternative sustainable lifestyle known as the Tiny House Movement.

Students who were part of the build team also had the opportunity to share their stories about this real-world experience and what the movement means to them, as part of the Sparty’s Cabin blog.

Scott Witter, director of SPDC, emphasized the importance of the Sparty’s Cabin project in integrating experiential learning for the whole school.

“The cabin is just a physical manifestation of this collaboration,” Witter said. “Without students on the Sparty’s Cabin Leadership Team in our School and College, there’s nothing to build. It takes a vision and a visionary to take a risk, to put their ideas forward, to push the boundaries—it takes a Spartan!”