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City's "tiny house" aims for big impact on energy savings

Baltimore city aims for big energy savings with tiny house

Aiming to help Baltimore residents shrink their utility bills, city officials unveiled a tiny home on wheels Monday that's packed with energy-saving materials, including solar panels and a "pedal generator" that produces power via pumping arms and legs.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake turned out for a ceremony outside City Hall to show off the "mobile energy education center," which will be displayed around the city to inspire residents and businesses to become more energy-efficient.

Built by Civic Works as part of a job-training project, the 200-square-foot abode on wheels features more than a dozen "green" and energy-saving materials or technologies, including a tankless water heater, cool roof and a solar-powered ventilator. It will have propane heat and a back-up battery to keep the lights and appliances on when the sun isn't shining.

"It really is a tiny house that has energy-efficient features and an energy-efficient design that is realistically applicable to the housing stock in the city of Baltimore, whether ... you're a homeowner or renter," said Alice Kennedy, the city's sustainability coordinator.

While people are encouraged to take ideas from the tiny house, they shouldn't look to make one their home — at least not yet. The city's building and fire codes currently don't permit such structures.

"City agencies collaboratively are looking at what needs to be done so they can legally be built in the city," Kennedy said of such small houses.

In the meantime, the home will be exhibited at neighborhood festivals and events, as well as at schools and churches and other religious facilities. Residents visiting it will be able to sign up for home weatherization, energy-efficiency programs and even for assistance paying energy bills.

The house's next scheduled appearances are on Saturday at Gospel Tabernacle Church, 3100 Walbrook Ave., and on Oct. 31 at Greater Paradise Christian Center, 2900 E. Oliver St. It will be displayed at both locations from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Anyone interested in having the home displayed at a neighborhood event, school or church is encouraged to call 443-869-2614.

tim.wheeler@baltsun.com

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