Maria Saxton is one of first people to have done academic research about the Tiny House Movement, and she decided to explore how the ecological footprint of tiny home downsizes change as a result of going tiny. Now we actually have some science about how tiny houses can be a positive factor for the environment. In our conversation, we dive into her research to learn more. If you’re concerned about the environment and you want to reduce your environmental footprint, or you’re just curious about the impact of tiny houses, give this a listen!

In This Episode:

  • What inspired Maria to research tiny homes?
  • How do you define and calculate”ecological footprint”?
  • Are tiny homes really more environmentally friendly?
  • Is there more research Maria would like to do?
  • Who volunteered to be in the study and how did Maria find them?
  • How were some ways that people in tiny houses raised their ecological footprint?
  • Has the study helped people advocate for policy changes regarding tiny house legislation?
  • Maria's current tiny home community project

Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Maria Saxton

Maria Saxton

Maria comes at tiny homes from the research side of things– she just received a Ph.D. in Environmental Design & Planning from Virginia Tech. Her research explored how the ecological footprints of tiny home downsizers change, showing how tiny homes are a holistic sustainable housing solution. These results have been used by tiny home policy advocates in both the United States and abroad to help advance policy change.
Currently, she's an independent consultant helping people develop tiny home communities and is mentoring a handful of students interested in researching tiny homes. She's also serving on the board of the Tiny Home Industry Association.

This week's Sponsor:

Tiny House Decisions

Tiny House Decisions is the super helpful guidebook that I wrote 5 years ago to share all of the knowledge and decisions that I made to build my own tiny house, along with what I did right, what I did wrong, and how I would change things. The guidebook, now in its second edition, has been completely rewritten and expanded to reflect how tiny houses are being built today and it also includes several new tiny house stories from other tiny house dwellers. The guidebook has been expanded to include things like SIPs, metal framing, and different types of insulation, and I seriously think this is the most helpful thing you can buy if you are thinking about living in a tiny house. If you go through the guidebook from start to finish, you will have a solid plan for all the systems and everything else that’s going to go into your tiny house. The second edition has been a long time in the making and I’m really excited to share it with the world. 

To learn more you can head over to


Maria's awesome infographic gives an overview of her findings.

Maria posing outside of some tiny homes during her research.




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