A new website offers plans, advice and a community of container home fans.
I’m Tom Woods. I run Container Home Plans along with my assistant Claire. I have a background in construction and studied sustainable development at Yale. Whilst studying, I developed my passion for sustainable buildings and this is what caused me to come across the idea of making homes out of recycled shipping containers. Earlier last year, I was browsing online to try and find more information on how to build shipping container homes and was frustrated because I couldn’t find much information out there. This is how Container Home Plans was born.
So I made the site to act as a central online resource for shipping container homes and to help people who are looking for detailed information on how to build their own. We feature on our site case studies of other people who have built their own container homes and go in detail, outlining the materials they used, the length of time it took them and the cost of the build. We also run a feature called container home of the week, where we show off the very best shipping container homes as inspiration for people! It’s our hope that Container Home Plans will act as a hub for the community of container home enthusiasts so they can share their experiences with other enthusiasts and help each other as they build their own.
We run the site because we believe that using shipping containers can be not only environmentally friendly but it can also be a very affordable option that allows people to make homes they otherwise couldn’t afford to if they used conventional building materials.
I’d be delighted to hear from people, so feel free to send any questions to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following post is by James Jenkins:
There’s been a lot of controversy over the expense and effectiveness of LEED certification. The controversy is affecting the perception of LEED, driving governments to remove laws requiring certification for publicly funded projects and pushing organizations that used to pursue Gold at a minimum to pursue Silver as a maximum. It’s a disturbing trend that is ill-informed.
Many projects achieve LEED certification without any impact to their construction budget. Of course there are registration and certification fees that cannot be avoided but those costs are generally inconsequential. The costs to achieve LEED that do get noticed are the ones that change the design. Often times the contractor is not expected to change the outcome of LEED certification as many of the decisions and features were included during design. However, the contractor can contribute significantly by taking an active and educated role in the LEED process.
Design Document are not Absolute: Work with and educate your entire team and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.
On a project we recently completed for Celgene we were able to achieve 30% Recycled Content, well beyond the initial 10% that was indicated on the LEED Scorecard. By identifying all scopes of work that could contribute Recycled Content and working directly with our subcontractors to help them understand what we were looking for and the documentation we needed to support it we were able to substantially increase the recycled content and contribute an additional 2 points to the project. Collaboration and education were key to accomplishing this.
Know the Intent of a LEED Credit and Get Creative: Many LEED Credits are achieved using one of few technologies or methodologies but sometimes simple, creative solutions can be used with little added cost.
At Northeastern University’s Seattle Campus we initially dismissed achieving LEED CI EA Credit 1 for HVAC Zoning because two private offices shared a single VAV box and the cost was determined to be prohibitive to add an additional one. The fact that we were so close to meeting the criteria kept nagging at the team. One day someone asked why we couldn’t control a damper using the occupancy sensors already installed for the lighting. It turns out that we could! While, not a typical way to achieve the credit the USGBC agreed that this simplified occupied/unoccupied status of providing ventilation to the space sufficiently met the zoning criteria.
Understand the Goals, Build it Effectively: If you understand the end goal, not the specific technology, you can find better solutions at a lower cost without affecting the project.
Plymouth Housing’s LEED Platinum Williams Apartments included a solar thermal system in the design. Initially, the project assumed that evacuated tube collectors would be used on the project, indeed the attractiveness of this newer technology and the capacity to produce higher temperature water appears to be the best option. However, looking at total cost combined with efficiency led us to a different conclusion. In our research, on a flat roof where the angle we could set the collectors was infinite the efficiency of the two systems were nearly identical and the costs roughly the same for the same heating capacity. However, the evacuated tube collectors needed twice the roof area, twice the racking, more connection points in the roof and longer piping. The flat plate collectors were the lowest first and life-cycle cost. The savings between these two systems allowed us to include upgrades elsewhere that further enhanced the sustainability of the project.
As you can see, these examples did not involve spending large amounts of money but raised the certification level for each project. There are more than enough examples of LEED by addition and these are the projects that give opponents of LEED something to argue. These projects prove that LEED can be a tool of inspiration, when used as such pushes everyone on a team to do more with the same, or less, resources.
James Jenkins is the in-house Sustainability Manager and Net Zero Specialist for BNBuilders in Seattle. James has completed dozens of LEED projects and three Living Building Challenges.
The following post is by DJC staff:
Windfall Lumber was started in 1997 in Tumwater with one goal: to sell wood responsibly.
It uses reclaimed, salvaged and FSC-certified wood to make tables, countertops, architectural wall cladding, panel and flooring products.
Every piece handcrafted by Windfall Lumber has a story. Wood comes from telephone poles, gym floors, shipping pallets, hardwood scraps, trees downed by windstorms, deconstructed granary storage bins and warehouses, as well as FSC hardwoods grown in the Pacific NW.
Interior designers, architects, builders and homeowners have used Windfall Lumber products, and they can be found locally at Starbucks, Whole Foods, Amazon, Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., University of Washington, Washington State University, Seabrook and Clover Park Technical College.
Tables and countertops come with live-edge, end grain and butcher-block designs. Wall cladding comes in stained and textured finishes. New colored cladding is now available. Panelized wood, which is used for wall and casework covering, comes in several stains and texture finishes.
The wood ranges from Douglas fir, maple and Oregon black walnut to Pacific madrone and Oregon myrtle. Reclaimed material is sourced regionally close to the manufacturing facility. Design, saw milling, kiln drying and finishing take place under one roof.
The following post is by DJC staff:
People and businesses in Washington are now required to recycle fluorescent light bulbs and tubes. The new law covers residences as well as government, commercial, industrial, office and retail facilities.
Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) save energy but each light contains a small amount of mercury that can be harmful to humans and wildlife if it is not disposed of correctly. The mercury content in fluorescent tubes ranges from 3.5 milligrams to 8 milligrams or more for older lamps.
The most common types of lights that must be recycled include CFLs, fluorescent tubes and HID (high-intensity discharge) lights, such as mercury vapor, sodium vapor and metal halide lamps. It is now illegal to knowingly place mercury-containing lights in waste bins or landfills. All mercury-containing lights must be placed in a recycling container specifically designed to prevent the release of mercury. Mercury inside a light does not pose a concern while the light is in use and unbroken, but during disposal and waste handling, lamps are broken, releasing mercury vapor and potentially exposing waste handlers or others to mercury.
Mercury in the atmosphere is ultimately deposited back to the earth, rivers and lakes, where it can enter the food chain and accumulate in fish, which humans and other animals eat.
EcoLights was created in 1996 to recycle mercury-containing lights and both PCB and non-PCB ballasts. The company said it is a licensed “final destination” light recycler in Washington state.
Ecolights said almost every component of a fluorescent lamp can be recycled, including metal end caps, glass and the mercury phosphor powder. When lamps are recycled properly, they are crushed and the materials are separated under a continuous vacuum filtration process.
Glass, aluminum and phosphor powder are captured and recycled. Mercury phosphor powder is sent to a mercury retort for recovery of the mercury and rare earth metals in the powder.
EcoLights sells a pre-paid box for recycling. The company ships the box, protective inner bag, and instructions to users, who fill the box with lamps, and return it to EcoLights for recycling. EcoLights then e-mails a certificate of recycling to the user. The company said currently there are no fines or other legal consequences associated with non-compliance.
“EcoLights is committed to being a resource for helping businesses throughout the region understand and comply with the new law,” says Craig Lorch, EcoLights founder. “We want to make sure everyone is prepared for the transition.”
In February of 2010, I wrote this story about an office building in Georgetown that was constructed of reclaimed cargo containers. The owner, Jay Stark, said it was the first project of its kind in the country. I also produced this video-tour of the space at the time. Here is our story from Dec. 16 about the sale.
Now, nearly two years later, the space is for sale for $1.5 million. Sadly, it was a foreclosure. I
The slight upside is that it will be really interesting to see who buys the site when it sells. I recently spoke to Evan Lugar of Kidder Mathews, who is representing First Savings Bank Northwest on the sale. He said the bank has owned the property since August. He also said it's a tricky space to sell because it isn't typical retail or commercial and is unique. He's targeting creative businesses.
The building is made of 80 percent recycled materials by weight. The complex has two buildings, which are each made of six cargo containers that came from the Port of Seattle. They have halogen and fluorescent lighting, an efficient reverse-cycle chiller HVAC system, and windows with argon gas sandwiched between the panes for increased insulation. There is a rooftop deck with views of downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier.
Typically - the super green, innovative projects that have been built have been created with the intent of the owner using it for many years. (Houses don't count). The greenest commercial projects I've profiled over the years have been built or are being built by the Bullitt Foundation, the U.S. General Services Administration, a consortium involving the city of Portland, universities or by firms that intend to stay in a space for a long time.
My point is: they don't turn hands. Because of that, there isn't much information about the resale value and market for super green projects in the U.S. created for a specific client. People hypothesize uber-green buildings hold their value better and that there's more demand, but it's hard to prove - without proof. No matter what, this is just one building. But the more sales we see, the more accurately we'll be able to guage the true value of innovative sustainable buildings and whether it's the LEED credential or a building's inherent sustainability that translates as value.
As a sidenote, this is the second time spaces made of cargo containers or using "cargotecture" has been in the news in a week. Earlier this week, the DJC covered a new pilot project Starbucks drive though in Tukwila made of cargo containers. Here's our story and here's the story the AP ran based on our story.
This week, I toured King Street Station. For those of you who aren't aware, the 1906-built-station is in the midst of a $50 million renovation. The project is absolutely, totally and utterly incredible.
The main thrust of the project is a much needed seismic renovation. Seriously, the tons of steel being put into this project are indescribable. But King Street Station is also a historic building and must be maintained as such. Once the rehabilitation is complete, it will be very sustainable: it's on track to meet LEED platinum, up from a goal of LEED silver. Last year, the project's sustainable efforts were honored by AIA Seattle with a gold level award from the What Makes It Green event. ZGF Architects is the architect. Sellen Construction is general contractor.
Obviously, the most sustainable thing about the project is the fact that it is a historic renovation of an old structure, which retains the embodied energy inherent in the building. But the team went much further. Geothermal wells in the building will likely provide all heating and cooling. The main waiting room will return to its 100-year-old state of being naturally ventilated. Incredible effort has been spent to save, clean and better old building materials. All of these elements will be detailed in a future DJC story.
For now, I'll whet your interest with some photos of the space. As you can tell, I got to tour the inside of the clock tower, which is not part of the current project's phase. However it is really cool. To see more photos of the clock tower or tour, follow my page on Facebook here. And if you haven't voted for this blog yet as best of the web, please do so. For more info on that, see the post below.
Painting is a fun, easy to do project. But once the job is done, excess paint often sits in the basement, dying a slow, slow death as the years pass by.
So today I was delighted to hear about "the green man," via a press release. The green man is an
effort by Wallingford's Reed Painting Co. to gather all your old paint and recycle it. Each year, it says, at least 695,000 gallons of paint is wasted in Washington State.
Currently, King County suggests residents dry out latex paint, strain it and put it in the garbage with the lid off. But Cole Palea of Reed Painting said that wastes a good product, while taking up valuable landfill space. Instead, his organization is collecting paint, straining it, categorizing it by color and giving it away as recycled paint.
"The need is there," he said. "But there is no real solution out there. We're hopefully getting this conversation started around the community."
This is the second year Reed has held a paint drive. Last year, it collected almost 200 gallons just from Wallingford, Queen Anne and Capitol Hill. The drive is currently in its second week. Palea said Reed has already doubled the amount of paint it collected last year and plans to pick up an additional 200 gallons of paint this weekend, for a total of at least 600 gallons that would otherwise be in the landfill.
People can either drop off old paint at the Reed shop in Wallingford or call to schedule a $20 pickup this weekend.
Palea said he and business owner Randy Reed grew up in Hawaii where they were acutely aware of natural resource use. Palea is a certified sustainable building advisor and this effort is one way for Reed Painting to become a better steward of the environment. "We're not trying to greenwash and tell everyone we're 100 per cent green by no means, because we're not. But we're definitely taking steps further," he said.
Portland has successfully turned paint recycling into a business. To read more about that city's efforts, check out this excellent story from 2009.
Reed is a painting contractor that works on homes and commercial projects. It paints the interior of the Seattle Art Museum between exhibits.
To drop off your paint, visit the shop this Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is at 3668 Albion Place North, on the backside of the block. The front of the shop is along Woodland Park Avenue North and 38th. There are three garage doors painted red. Reed is behind the first garage door. For more information, visit http://www.reedpaint.com/ or call (206) 965-0504.
This is a guest post by Dave Bennink, owner of Re-Use Consulting.
I recently was asked to speak at the California Resource Recovery Association Conference in Palm Springs. I know, Palm Springs, it sounds like a vacation, but the high for each day was 112 degrees. Anyway, this year's theme was 'zero-waste'. The CRRA had asked me to discuss building deconstruction in the context of it helping to achieve zero waste goals in many California cities. It caused me to pause and think about what zero waste means and how to achieve it. I came up with a couple of interesting points.
Betraying the mission:
Some of the projects that I have been involved with or have read about that have strived for zero-waste or very high diversion rates may have succeeded in doing so, but at what cost? It may have taken weeks to accomplish and cost much more than demolition. Therefore, even though the project stands as an example of what is possible, the general public may see this as confirming their belief that building deconstruction (and perhaps other green building methods) cost too much and take too long.
Looking at this another way, we see that the single project may divert 70 tons from the landfill during
There are different ways to achieve zero-waste, by achieving zero-waste on one project and building off of that and using it as a bar that others can reach, or to achieve high-diversion on 10 projects at a cost-competitive price and time-sensitive schedule. In the end, we really do need the zero-waste projects to push us forward, we just need them to admit that we still have a ways to go before achieving zero-waste on a regular basis.
Designing for disassembly:
When planning our presentation, we reviewed past projects that we had completed and sent the materials in three directions: reuse, recycling and disposal. Our focus was on how we could have eliminated the disposal category on projects performed in the 'real world'. Our conclusion was that if we design waste into a structure, it is not surprising that we get waste out of projects.
Designing for disassembly is a movement in architecture to admit that their structures will likely not live out their entire lifespan and that when the building is removed someday in the future, the materials that make up that structure will be worth harvesting and that the design should favor this disassembly. The more fasteners, ADHESIVES, and other waste producing or labor consuming building systems that are battled when the building is taken apart, the more unlikely that deconstruction will be a viable choice for building removal.
Having deconstructed 500 structures in the last 16 years, RE-USE Consulting has gained a unique perspective on this problem and is moving ahead with its own solutions to be applied to today's buildings. We hope that tomorrow's buildings will be made of reusable panels that can be reused and are perhaps constructed on multiples of 16" or 24", floating floor panels, paneling set in channels with fewer fasteners, and well thought out use of adhesives.
I have seen what zero waste looks like. It is an amazing thing. Imagine a job site where the building was removed and the stacks of materials sitting on the ground confuse the passer-by. Is a building about to be built, or did it just come down?
Should we focus first on zero-waste, or should we focus on increasing the percentage of materials that are diverted for reuse? In the end, the reuse of materials can be many times better than simply recycling them due to the preservation of energy, job creation associated with it, and from resource conservation.
This is a guest post by Dave Bennink, owner of Re-Use Consulting.
I was born in Bellingham and have always lived in Washington. Yes, that means I'm allergic to sunlight and spend 11.23 months a year with extremely pale skin, and the other .77 months with extremely red skin. For me, there is a positive to all that rainfall and that's river and stream kayaking. Recently, I was able to pay penance for all of that praying for rain. I helped
The January floods damaged hundreds of buildings around the area and many of the homeowners didn't have sufficient insurance to cover the repairs. A typical home may have had to replace sheetrock, insulation, wiring, wood flooring, doors, sliding glass doors, cabinets, appliances and more. My clients couldn't help with the sheetrock and wiring by they donated almost 100 doors, over 40 cabinets and many other expensive items including a large amount of lumber and plywood. The value of these donations was in excess of $75,000!
What was I most impressed with? It was either because they donated them anonymously or