The Most Environmentally Friendly RVs of 2022
Energy and Fuel-Efficient RVs for Eco-Friendly Adventures.
Manufacturers in the RV industry are looking for ways to make their vehicles as efficient and eco-friendly as possible. Lightweight materials and innovative construction techniques have led to a new generation of motorhomes and travel trailers miles ahead of their predecessors. Solar panels, LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances, and other technology upgrades on today’s environmentally friendly RVs further reduce the impact on the environment.
What is TRA Certification?
Manufacturers’ efforts to design and build better models haven’t gone unnoticed. TRA Certification, Inc. has developed a system that ranks RVs on their level of environmental friendliness. The company’s “Green Performance” scale awards motorhomes, trailers, and other recreational vehicles a bronze, silver, gold, and emerald rating. Those ranks indicate how well specific models meet TRA’s standard, with emerald as its highest rating.
TRA rates RVs based on four categories: resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and indoor air quality. To achieve a specific level on the bronze to emerald scale, a vehicle must achieve that rating in all four categories. The overall rating reflects the lowest score earned. For example, if an RV achieves a “gold” rating for resource, energy, and water efficiency, but a “silver” for air quality, it receives a silver rating for its overall score.
RV manufacturers earn points in the TRA ratings by using recycled materials, reusing scraps, and incorporating precise manufacturing processes. The use of low-flow water systems, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and installing solar panels will also improve a vehicle’s score. The company provides a checklist to manufacturers to serve as guidelines when designing new models.
Using the TRA ranking system, these are the most environmentally friendly RVs for 2022. Each model listed earned a gold or emerald rating from the organization, certifying that they are the most eco-friendly models currently available.
Coachmen Apex Ultra-Lite
Thanks to its pre-installed solar panels, recycled materials, and energy-efficient LED lighting systems, the Coachmen Apex Ultra-Lite travel trailer earned an emerald rating from TRA. Manufactured with modern techniques that minimize waste, the Apex further lowers its impact on the planet by incorporating a rain drainage system and reducing the amount of wood used in its construction.
The Apex doesn’t skimp on features. Amenities include a microwave oven, a three-burner stove, a 32-inch LCD TV, and a 55-amp power center with a 100-watt solar panel. Available in a dozen floorplans, the lightweight travel trailer is spacious and comfortable, with room to sleep six depending on the configuration.
Forest River Work and Play
Forest River’s Work and Play is an eco-friendly toy hauler that earned a gold rating from TRA. It uses recycled materials throughout and has sustainable features such as a rain drainage system, LED lighting, pre-installed awnings, and energy-efficient appliances. It also scored points for featuring nitrogen-filled tires, two skylights, and low-flow water usage in the kitchen, shower, and toilet.
With five floorplan options, the Work and Play is an excellent choice for anyone traveling with an ATV or UTV. In addition to having an onboard garage for those vehicles, most models come with a king-size bed, a spacious dining area, and a generous amount of living space. Other features include a 39-inch flat-panel TV, a Bluetooth audio system, and a shower with a glass door.
Lance 850 Truck Camper
TRA has put its stamp of approval on the entire Lance line-up, bestowing an emerald rating on the RV manufacturer’s truck campers and travel trailers. The Lance 850 exemplifies what the company has done with its products, which score well based on their thoughtful construction and integration of components and the use of recycled materials. LED lighting, built-in awnings, prewired solar panel connections, and a lightweight design further enhance the 850’s eco-friendly profile, including low-flow water components in the kitchen, bath, shower, and toilet.
With designs for both long- and short-bed trucks, the Lance 850 is a versatile option for campers. It comes equipped with a cabover queen-size bed, a double sink, stainless steel three-burner stove, and USB charging ports. Dual skylights provide natural light to the interior, while an integrated AM/FM/DVD/Bluetooth audio system serves up plenty of entertainment.
Lance 1685 Travel Trailer
Following suit, Lance’s lightweight travel trailers all earned emerald ratings from TRA. These towables have even more space and features than the Lance truck campers while remaining eco-friendly. They received high marks for their use of energy-efficient appliances and HVAC systems, generous amounts of insulation, recycled materials used in their construction, and water-saving components. LED lighting, prewired solar panel hookups, and low towing weight also contributed to the high marks.
The Lance 1685 is an excellent example of the company’s design philosophy when it comes to travel trailers. This model offers a blend of size, weight, and functionality, providing a full-size RV feel in a compact package. It comes with a queen-size bed, a three-burner stove complete with overhead and light, and an audio system including interior and exterior speakers. Best of all, its 3890-pound gross dry weight allows a variety of vehicles to tow the trailer without counteracting fuel efficiency too much.
Airstream Flying Cloud Travel Trailer
Airstream is another manufacturer that earned the emerald rating across nearly its entire line-up. That includes not only the company’s well-known travel trailers but also its Class B RVs as well.
For years, the Airstream Flying Cloud has been a standout option for RVers, offering plenty of features and amenities. It also happens to be eco-friendly, thanks to its focus on keeping waste to a minimum and using recycled materials in its construction. As with other models on this list, the Flying Cloud achieves its emerald status thanks to LED lighting, a built-in awning, excellent insulation, and prewired solar panel hookups. Its distinctive aerodynamic shape earns it bonus points as well.
With more than 13 floorplans to choose from, a Flying Cloud version exists to meet just about everyone’s needs. The trailer can sleep four to eight people depending on the configuration and comes with a spacious kitchen that includes a stove, microwave, refrigerator, and sink. Airstream outfits this model with plenty of storage space, exterior LED lighting, and a white aluminum roof designed to keep interior temperatures cool.
Airstream Atlas Van
TRA was impressed with Airstream’s Class B RVs, which scored even higher than its travel trailers in terms of eco-friendliness. The company’s vans and touring coaches did remarkably well in minimizing waste during the construction process, using recycled materials and efficiently-produced components to their advantage. Factory-installed solar panels, ductless HVAC systems, and the use of recycled rainwater were also standout features.
The Airstream Atlas is the company’s flagship Class B model, using a Mercedes Sprint Van chassis for a smooth ride and extra comfort. This model sleeps two comfortably but can carry four on a road trip. It comes equipped with a slide-out Murphy bed, a comfortable lounge area, and a kitchen that includes a sink, stove, and convection microwave oven. Other amenities include a 40-inch Samsung TV that stows away when not in use and a powered awning that deploys at the touch of a button. The built-in solar panels charge the 100 amp-hour lithium batteries, which provide plenty of power for any adventure.
These models represent the most eco-friendly RVs on the market today. Hopefully, manufacturers will submit more vehicles for review as the TRA certification process gains more traction and gets further acceptance in the industry. If you’re in the market for an environmentally friendly RV, these are some of your most promising options