SMUD, for the uninitiated the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, is leaping onto the tiny house trailer with a competition slated for this fall. Here's the deal:

SMUD announced the inaugural Tiny House Competition will be held at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento the week of October 10, 2016. The Tiny House Competition challenges college and university teams from across California to design and build net-zero energy homes with a footprint of 400 square feet or less. The teams will assemble and present their homes for judging beginning Monday, October 10 and will finish with a “public day” on Saturday, October 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public day will provide opportunities for attendees to tour all of the houses, attend workshops, visit exhibits by home and garden vendors and much more.

The Tiny House Competition is modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, but the “tiny” houses will be less than half the typical square footage of a home built for the decathlon. The tiny houses will be built on wheels and will cost significantly less to construct, making this competition accessible to a wider range of educational institutions.

The homes will feature smart appliances, green building materials and techniques, renewable energy technologies and innovative designs scaled for small living. They will be judged on criteria divided into four categories—architecture, energy efficiency, home life and communications. Winning teams will receive trophies and monetary awards.

Teams currently scheduled to compete in the Tiny House Competition include California State University, Chico; California State University, Fresno; Cosumnes River College; College of the Sequoias; Laney College; Sacramento State University; San Jose City College; Santa Clara University; University of California, Berkeley; and University of California, Santa Cruz partnering with Cabrillo College.

The teams applied for the competition in the fall of 2014 and began working on their houses last year. Each team has also created a Facebook page and a series of video updates documenting their progress.

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