09/14 Thinking big, getting tiny

the Lunsford family in front of their tiny house

The Lunsfords—Grace, Corbett, 7-month Nannette Lilabelle with cats Yebeg and Tibs—are traveling the United States on a 20-city tour in their custom-made high-performance #TinyLab. The family made a stop last week in Centennial. Photo by Peter Jones.

The Lunsfords’ stay in Centennial last week was the family’s 13th official stop on their tour promoting how the wonders of home performance can come in even the smallest of packages. Those five days in the parking lot of Centennial Center Park, along with the #TinyLab tours and accompanying workshops, were sponsored by Centennial-based SSP Innovations, which similarly develops software for performance-based utility companies.

The Proof is Possible tour is also a kind of living sneak preview of Home Diagnosis, the couple’s new television series slated to debut next year on PBS.

Described as “This Old House meets CSI,” the quasi-reality show finds the Lunsfords traversing the country in the #TinyLab helping homeowners solve their house-performance mysteries—be they unexplained drafts of cold air or the ominous ghosts of poor home design…

Although the Lunsfords, ages 39 and 37, are tacit supporters of the burgeoning tiny-house movement that has seen believers trade spacious living for simplicity and low impact, the couple views energy efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint as consequences more than goals in and of themselves.

“The higher the performance, the more you have these beautiful byproducts of energy efficiency, health and safety because your home is performing at a higher rate,” Grace said.

For example, the solar-powered #TinyLab, which was custom constructed in five months by the Lunsfords’ extended family, is ballyhooed for having the best indoor-air quality possible and has a range of built-in sensors to prove it.

“The air my daughter breathes is very safe. I know exactly what’s in it,” Corbett said. “Most people in Colorado are guessing. We can make it smell however we want. We can make it whatever temperature and relative humidity we want by using these pieces of machinery. A robot eye is scanning the room to find the hot spots and send the cool air to the hot spots.”

The lab’s lack of air vents—a feature even possible in much larger homes, according to the Lunsfords—is part and parcel to an integrated structure that Corbett likens to the human body.

“Ducts are the worst part of any heating and cooling system. Just ask anybody,” he said. “If I want to be a higher-performance human and put in an Olympic athlete’s heart, my veins and arteries are still clogged with hamburgers. What we try to teach people is a home is a system.”

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Elaine Walker