Our Mission

About Us

We are an interdisciplinary group of undergraduate and graduate students at UC Berkeley with a shared passion for sustainability in the built environment. SHAC is the result of a merger between the Solar Decathlon team and Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY).

Solar Decathlon

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition that inspires student teams to design and build highly efficient buildings powered by renewables, while optimizing for key considerations including affordability, resilience, and occupant health.

Tiny House in My Backyard

Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY) originally began as a band of graduate students who entered and won second place in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) Tiny House Competition in Fall 2016. The Tiny, Living Lab aimed to design and build a net-zero energy, off-grid tiny house that represents a frontier for energy and water efficient residential construction. The project represents experimental off-grid residency, and is a pioneer in microgrid communities, tiny housing development, and advanced energy communities. The second team of THIMBY students applied the idea of ‘tiny living’ to the displaced persons of the Bay Area, successfully building a ‘tiny house on wheels’ for a family at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, a homeless shelter in the city of Richmond. Through Constance’s Bus, they were able to transform a decommissioned school bus into a solar-powered home for Constance and her two children, Miracle and David, who are now happily settled.

The current iteration of THIMBY synthesizes the models of our predecessors to design and construct a cost-effective and scalable model of solar-powered, off-grid tiny houses to address housing insecurity in the Bay Area. Our team is passionate about environmentally sustainable development and affordable housing, and excited to apply our strengths and respective skills to advance ‘tiny houses’ as a model of affordable, environmentally sustainable living. 

We believe that affordable housing construction should not solely address those who are displaced but also many of the factors that exacerbate displacement, such as climate change and housing inflation. Our name, ‘THIMBY,’ is a play off the ‘NIMBY’ movement (Not In My Backyard), which we hope to challenge through community-driven development that promotes equitable and inclusive housing.  

Our Purpose

Whether it’s building tiny houses to maximize land use efficiency of sprawling cities, ‘smart homes’ for international competitions, or mobile homes for homeless families, we approach problems with a creative gusto that drives our passion for equity and sustainability. Through hands-on and interdisciplinary projects, we offer an educational experience for students, bring about positive impacts to our community, and develop innovative technologies and methodologies for the world beyond.

We aim to promote:

  1. Interdisciplinary collaboration: Create an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to collaborate on sustainable on- and off-campus housing and construction projects.
  2. Behavior change: Improve the knowledge and commitment of students and residents to sustainable living, so that UC Berkeley’s culture of environmentalism goes beyond the campus boundaries.
  3. Hands-on education: Design and building aspects of these projects will serve as an opportunity to engage community members, local nonprofits, and UC Berkeley students and faculty in green building design and construction.
  4. Innovation: Create a model for affordable and sustainable living for residents of the greater Bay Area.
  5. Energy self-sufficiency: Design an energy system that reduces emissions associated with residential electricity consumption through rooftop solar energy generation, efficient appliances, and innovative construction and energy management techniques.
  6. Affordable housing: Provide a means of cost-effective and scalable housing to address rampant displacement and housing insecurity in the Bay Area and beyond.
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