Advocates of green building in the United States are using miniature, portable homes to exemplify the virtues of sustainable construction.

The so-called ‘Small House Movement’ eschews conventional preferences in the country for larger homes in favour of modest dwellings which emphasize sustainability and conservation.

“I used to build mansions on the beach, and I’ve gone to the polar opposite of that,” said Michael O’Donovan, a builder who specialises in the design and construction of miniature homes for clients in northwest Florida.

One of O’Donovan’s latest projects saw him design and build a 180-square-foot wooden home for Pensacola interior designer Jim Goldman.

The home was so compact, O’Donovan was able to tow it from his workshop to his client using just a Chevy pickup.

Featuring a waterless toilet and compost system as well as in-built solar panels, all of which allow it to serve as a fully functional modern living space without the need for utilities, the home is a model of sustainability.

Michael O'Donovan

Michael O’Donovan

“With it not being attached to any utilities, you can put it almost anywhere,” O’Donovan said. “It doesn’t have to be by power lines, water or sewer.”

The tiny dwelling manages to accommodate the complete set of features that one would normally expect from a home of conventional dimensions, including a kitchen, a king-sized bed sequestered in a sleeping loft, and a dining room table which can be folded up for convenient storage.

While the mini cottage is currently parked outside Goldman’s apartment, he eventually plans to move it to a lake in the census-designated place (CDP) of Pace in the county of Santa Rosa.

O’Donovan has more than 30 years of experience in the building industry in Florida’s Gulf Coast, and claims that all of the homes he has built managed to survive the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

He has recently become a committed member of the Small House Movement and is seeking to provide a new breed of portable, miniature dwellings at affordable prices.