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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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Modern Solar Powered LED Lights Taking Off

PoolSolar Cynergy has developed a self-contained, in ground, solar-powered LED light that can be used in residential, commercial, and city applications.  Eliminating the need for batteries, these solar LED lights use Nichia condenser technology to provide blue, green, white, halogen white, and red lighting.  With the simple design of having everything built in, there’s no need for complicated wiring, and they’re strong enough to withstand the pressure of a tank.  As you can see, the lights are embedded into the ground to create various design and lighting effects.  Initially a Japanese innovation, Solar Cynergy introduced the lights at Lightfair International 2007, and business has taken off!  I can imagine that the opportunities are endless with this kind of technology.  More images below.

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Shaming Building Owners into Using Less Energy

Haringey Interactive Heat Loss Map

A quick, but interesting, little tidbit of information … in Haringey, a city in the UK, the city council hired a company to use a military-style plane outfitted with a thermal imaging to take pictures of every structure in the area.  They took the heat loss information from the pictures and created a color-coded map identifying the various levels of heat loss for each building.  As you can see from the image shot above, the dark red homes are really losing some heat.  By visiting the Haringey Interactive Heat Loss Map, you can scroll over each gray dot and get the address of that particular energy loser.  I’m not sure if the data has led to any improvements (there’s definitely a concern over privacy here in the U.S.), but it’s probably led to some interesting discussions: "Excuse me neighbor, did you know you’re a red house?  Well, I’m a blue house and I think I can help…"  Via CD + TechDirt

Portland City Storage Brings Big Solar (S2)

Portland City Storage

I sat on this post for a while trying to find up-to-date information on its status but was unable to locate anything.  This is a storage facility planned for the east bank of the Willamette River.  Typical storage facilities can take up to 30 acres, but this one, designed for house boats, recreational vehicles, and storage pods, is going to be maxed out on 3 acres.  The taller tower rises 22 stories into the sky and uses a giant mechanical arm capable of lifting 40,000 lbs.  Interestingly, the project is planning construction to LEED Platinum standards and will include more than 175,000 sf of solar panels (making it the largest solar facility in the northwest).  With the estimated project costs at about $40 M, Portland City Storage also plans to rehabilitate the riverfront property adjacent to the towers. 

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V2G Technology, Healthy Design, Hot Greentech, Small Wind + America's Greenest City (WIR)

Week in Review

PieceHomes Set to Premiere at Dwell on Design

Container House by PieceHomes

PieceHomes is a new modern prefab offering by Davis Studio Architecture + Design, set to debut in about a week at Dwell on Design.  Notice the interesting tagline — "pH: for a balanced home."  Nice.  PieceHomes plans to distinguish itself among the pack by providing custom and standardized, modern, modular architecture that is green and affordable.  With a variety of home designs taking shape, pieceHomes will be available this fall and manufactured by XtremeHomes.  Take a gander at the website and some of the home designs.  I’m particularly intrigued by the Container House, 3×4, and Solar Passage (all pictured in this post).  Like many prefabs, pieceHomes also will be designed to incorporate solar panels, green roofs, and other environmental features that fit home site conditions.  It’ll be nice to see some of these renderings in real life. 

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