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SG Blocks Rolling Out Safe, Green Building System

Fort Bragg Container Home

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of discussing the phenomenon of container housing with David Cross, Chief Business Development Officer for SG Blocks LLC.  SG Blocks, short for Safe and Green, is a sustainable building system made from containers.  Going beyond the trendy fascination with exposed container architecture design–modern, industrial, and extremely good looking, in my opinion, SG Blocks intends to use containers as a fundamental component to building construction.  A container home doesn’t necessarily have to look like a container home (that’s up to you), but it can have all the same advantages: comfortable, strong, green, and affordable.   

The home you see above is an example of container modules being used on a traditional home as a framing system.  From the outside or inside, you’re not going to know that it was built with container modules.  The cost of framing a home built with SG Blocks is about $22-30 psf, which is roughly comparable to other forms of construction.  BUT did you know that recycling containers into steel beams takes nearly 8,000 kW of energy at a cost of roughly $800?  Rather, it takes about 400 kW of energy to turn containers into a home.  At about 5% of the energy when compared to straight recycling, that’s not bad.  And right now, SG Blocks is in the process of rolling out their building system nationally.

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Instant Built House, Rapid Deployment Shelter

IBH Opening 5/31/2007

I like the idea of using things that we already have to create things that we need — which is probably why the concept of container housing is so intriguing.  In Las Vegas, Arnie Stalk, in conjunction with METRO Development Group and SHARE, has created an actual prototype of the Instant Built House.  IBH is a rapid deployment shelter made from standardized, recycled ISO modules — containers that can be transported via ocean cargo ships, railroad "piggy-back" trains, semi-trucks, helicopter airlift operations, and civilian and military jumbo air cargo transports.  In other words, an IBH can be shipped practically anywhere in the world in a moment’s notice. 

IBH Shelters are built with the following:  fully insulated walls, photovoltaic solar array for power, wind-ventilated scoops and skylights, roof-mounted HVAC units, satellite cable and internet, and internal waste collector and water recycling systems.  IBH models are secured on concrete caisson footings, foundations, and slabs.  I’m surprised they used Longhorn colors to paint it, but we’ll let that slide. :)

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TrailerWrap Project, Mobile Home to Modern Pad

TrailerWrap Project

Exploring issues of sustainability and energy efficiency, the TrailerWrap Project aims to provide simple, affordable solutions to improve conditions in mass-produced, low-cost mobile homes.  Mobile homes are a prolific form of living, and important one, but they can be inefficient, ugly, and uncomfortable to live in.  So the University of Colorado at Denver College of Architecture cooked up sketches and prototypes, a kit to transform the common mobile home.  And now, that process is complete and they have the first actual TrailerWrap home.  I’m completely blown away by the results. 

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