Tiny Classroom Nears Completion


A tiny house phenomenon is sweeping the nation. The typical American home is about 2,600 square feet, but more Americans are choosing to downsize into tiny homes with less than 400 square feet. Tiny houses enable people to live a smaller, simpler life in an efficient space. 

The idea to build a 160 square foot, tiny classroom was developed in the spring of 2017 by Allison Rohrs, Director for the Institute of Energy at Saint Francis University. “The idea is to utilize the tiny house model in order to educate students and the community about renewable energy, efficient living and producing a smaller environmental footprint” says Rohrs. 

With support from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies and West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund the tiny classroom and mobile power lab became a reality, and SFU is excited to announce its arrival on campus. Ms. Rohrs announced “The tiny house is officially parked on campus and we are in the final stages of commissioning the solar panels and installing the remaining classroom equipment.” 

The Saint Francis University Institute for Energy's new tiny classroom will serve as an educational resource for SFU students and surrounding communities. To help support the unit traveling to schools and events around the state, the SFU Institute for Energy was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from Constellation, an Exelon company. SFU was one of only 18 projects nationwide to receive a grant. "Energy innovation and creativity are essential to what we do every day,” said Joe Nigro, CEO, Constellation. “It’s a privilege to support and celebrate this year’s grant recipients for exhibiting their own innovation and creativity. That level of passion — in areas such as science, math, and technology — will foster the energy leaders of tomorrow.”

The first group to experience a class in the tiny classroom were local high school students attending Science Day on campus on November 21st. Ms. Rohrs and Mr. Michael Sell presented the session “Live in a Tiny House? Study in a Tiny Classroom!” inside the mobile classroom showcasing solar panels for backyard electricity generation, batteries for energy storage, and a biomass pellet stove heating the space. Students learned how renewable energy sources like solar, wind and biomass, along with energy efficiency can produce a smaller environmental footprint.