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 Jasmine McDermott:
Z Living Systems installed a water-saving, living wall crafted of 6,000 individual plants on a new resident activity club in Los Angeles. The building, which implements a number of sustainable features, achieving LEED Platinum, ultimately creates an “oasis in the middle of a city.” The 1,200 sq. ft. living wall, featured both indoors and outdoors, stretches the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool while only requiring less than half the amount of water an individual would use showering in one week.
In response to California’s severe drought, Governor Brown’s office released regulations surrounding water conservation and is encouraging a number of water conservation practices. Z Living Systems incorporates a number of these practices into their living walls creating a sustainable alternative for landscaping.
Z Living Systems' proprietary system takes plants, hardy drought-tolerant native species, which are first transplanted into the company's living wall pots from their original nursery pots, delivers them onsite, and then hangs them onto a prefabricated structure. The system allows for first day, full coverage of vegetation. Following the installation, the company utilizes an irrigation controller that allows the control of irrigation remotely in response to weather conditions. In collaboration with Rios Clementi Hale Studios, there was an effort to blur the lines of indoor and outdoor by continuing the living wall through the exterior and interior of the building.
- Architect- Rios Clementi Hale Studios
- Contractor- Fassberg
- Builder- Brookfield Residential
Water Conservation Practices Utilized by Z Living Systems Living Wall
- Smart irrigation controller
- Drip irrigation
- Drought tolerant or native plants
- Watering once a week
- Preventing runoff
Jasmine McDermott is a co-founder of Z Living Systems, a living-wall provider based in San Luis Obispo, California.
McKinstry is honoring its clients for their commitment to sustainability. Each is called a “Champion of Sustainability” and is presented with an award at a Seahawks home game.
The next winner, The Allen Institute for Brain Science, will be honored at the November 2nd Seahawks game against the Raiders. The award goes to Vulcan Real Estate, GLY Construction, Perkins+Will Architects, and Architectural Building Inspection (ABI) Inc. This energy efficient, design-build project has a central plant system that is designed to perform 24% better than the ASHRAE standard.
Recent winners of the prize include Avista Corp. for its corporate headquarters and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for the Thomas Foley U.S. Courthouse.
McKinstry said the five-year remodel of Avista Corp.’s 150,000-square-foot office building will save 1.4 million kilowatt-hours per year, which is enough to power 116 homes, and will save $149,000 every year in energy costs. This LEED Gold Certified project will be completed by the summer of 2015.
The Thomas Foley U.S. Courthouse project dealt with the unique constraints of providing extensive upgrades to an existing building. The upgrades reduced baseline energy consumption by 50 percent, and reduced carbon emissions by 693 tons.
Other 2014 Champions are Vulcan Real Estate, GLY Construction, Clise Properties, Lydig Construction, Seattle University, Gresham-Barlow School District.
One of the largest solar arrays in the state of Washington is included in McKinstry’s many energy conservation initiatives at CenturyLink Field and Event Center.
Here are some other conservation facts about CenturyLink Field:
- Solar panels spanning the area of two football fields sit atop the roof and generate more than 800,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, meeting 30% of the facilities energy needs with solar power, an equivalent of powering 95 Seattle area homes for a year.
- 100% of urinals have been retrofitted with ultra-low-flow water fixtures, saving more than 1.3 million gallons of water every year. That’s enough to turn CenturyLink Field into a giant 3-foot-deep swimming pool.
- Less water means less energy and lower CO2 emissions – the equivalent of planting 278 football fields worth of trees.
- Through the use of 614 recycle and compost bins located throughout, 94% of waste generated at CenturyLink Field and Event Center is diverted from landfills.
The following post is by DJC staff:
The stairwell is lined with fir wood salvaged from a pair of 1920s-era buildings that once stood on the site. The buildings were last owned by Fremont Dock Co., which acquired them in the 1980s.
Salvaged wood gives the staircase a look and feel that’s unusual for new construction, Skanska says.
The 129,000-square-foot project will house the Brooks Sports headquarters when it opens this summer.
Curious about the salvaged wood? Skanska passed along these tidbits:
• 45 pieces of lumber were salvaged before the old buildings were demolished. All the wood in salvageable condition was reused.
• Milling work requires a great deal of raw material, so the Skanska team turned to one of its other developments, 400 Fairview in South Lake Union, to supplement the supply with another 140 linear feet of wood.
•Using wood from the 400 Fairview site — also fir — was not easy since it had to match Stone34’s milling profile and be in good condition.
• The salvaged wood will also be used for slats beneath several glass canopies. On the north side of the building savaged wood is used as exterior cladding.
• 98 percent of the construction waste has been diverted from landfills.
• Non-salvaged wood at Stone34 is FSC-certified, meaning it was harvested from responsibly managed forests. Examples include Stone34’s outdoor benches and the lobby floor.
The following post is by Dennis Erwood:
Once a year, a single school within the entire state of Washington is recognized by The Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) for its exemplary design approach. This year, the coveted “Polished Apple” was awarded to the Northshore School District for its newly opened Secondary Academy of Success (SAS). The school is no stranger to such recognitions. Since it opened in 2010, it has won accolade after accolade, which raises the question: What does it take to design an award-winning school?
Adaptive re-use: With space as a major constraint for new schools, the school district looked outside the box for unconventional solutions, turning to a former warehouse for the site of the new school. The business park location also made sense for SAS, as the school partners with businesses to provide students with real-world opportunities and experience.
Adaptive design: The team also looked for creative ways to use existing infrastructure to avoid major modifications that would increase costs. The raised loading dock created a second entrance for middle school students. Support columns and trusses were carefully blended as elements of the interior design. Windows, lighting, color and materials were reconsidered to create a space that would be inviting.
Sustainable solutions: With a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, the school district also looked for ways to incorporate sustainable design. Wind-powered generators, solar panels, operable windows and high-performance glazing were integrated as cost saving and green solutions. Real-time energy and water usage is shared with students and teachers via “green dashboards,” providing data for use in curricula that paves the way for potential green jobs. Perhaps the “greenest” element of all is the re-use of a former space instead of using the natural resources required to create an entirely new one.
The resulting design approach successfully transformed a one-story, monochromatic, car-focused warehouse into a natural light-filled, two-story learning environment with an outdoor plaza, classrooms, dining and common spaces that invite learning and collaboration.
Dennis Erwood, AIA, leads the education studio at the Seattle-based architectural firm Studio Meng Strazzara. He can be reached at DErwood@studioms.com.
The following post is by DJC staff:
The Danish architecture firm BIG with CG Jensen + EKJ + Grontmij said it has completed a new multipurpose hall for Bjarke Ingels’ former high school north of Copenhagen. The project turned a courtyard into a new gathering point above an underground sports facility.
The space can be used for sports, graduation ceremonies and social events.
BIG said in a press release the new hall is 16 feet below grade to ensure a good indoor climate and reduce its environmental impact. It is formed by beveled concrete walls and covered by a vaulted wooden roof made of curved glued laminated timber beams.
The roof functions as an interior and exterior skin, creating a hilly courtyard that can accommodate a number of activities from group work to larger gatherings.
The exterior surface is untreated oak and white enamel-coated steel benches that were designed by BIG. The only light sources at night come from the benches and seating, which are outfitted with LED lights underneath that brighten the entire courtyard.
The edge of the roof is a long bench with a lattice design that brings in daylight below. Solar panels around the buildings heat the hall.
Bjarke Ingels said, “Rather than placing the hall outside the school — and spread the social life further — we have created a new focal point and link between the school’s existing facilities. The roof forms a molehill that serves as a giant piece of informal furniture engaging and supporting student life.
“The main architectural idea emerged from the rules of handball as the soft, curved roof takes its form from the mathematical equation of the trajectory of a thrown ball. Form follows function. In an homage to my old math teacher, we used the mathematical formula for a ballistic arc to shape the geometry of the roof.”
A future phase will connect the courtyard and hall with sports fields and parking, and provide space for art classes and cultural activities.
BIG — Bjarke Ingels Group — describes itself as an international partnership of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development.
The following post is by DJC staff:
The Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Washington held its inaugural Mechanical Innovation conference in Seattle last week, with a speech by Denis Hayes of the Bullitt Foundation about his group’s net-zero headquarters under construction on Capitol Hill.
Hayes spoke about the worldwide market for net-zero buildings using his project as an example.
The members of MCA are union plumbing, piping and HVAC contractors.
About 300 people attended the conference, which included sessions about embracing change, innovation and technology. The tech talk was by David Burczyk of Trimble Navigation, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm that provides advanced positioning systems that are used in a variety of fields including surveying and construction.
There was also a panel discussion about sustainable built environments and the participants are shown here: Yancy Wright (Sellen Sustainability), Craig Norsen (The Seneca Group), Robert Willis (PSF Mechanical), Ted Sturdevant (Washington State Department of Ecology), Steve Doub (Miller-Hull Partnership) and moderator Robert Tucker.
Tucker introduced and questioned the panelists about sustainable buildings. They talked about how and why to get involved, as well as the challenges and benefits of such types of projects.
Tucker also delivered the keynote address: “Innovation is Everybody’s Business.”
The breakout sessions included a leadership talk about "Unlocking Your Innovative Smarts" by Bill Stainton, who shared tools and techniques to help people think more creatively in problem-solving, embracing change and unleashing innovation. A technical session presented by Norman Strong of the Miller-Hull Partnership gave a glimpse into the direction of the AEC industry through the eyes of an architect.
The following post is by DJC staff:
Harbor Urban says people are starting to move into the GreenHouse Apartments at 3701 S. Hudson St. in Columbia City. The LEED gold project has one notable feature: irrigated garden plots for each resident on the roof.
Harbor calls it “roof-to-fork urban agriculture.”
There’s also a greenhouse on the roof and a communal space for dining, as well as edible trees and shrubs scattered throughout the property. The rooftop plants absorb rainwater and reduce runoff, and the soil and vegetation help insulate the buildings.
The site is near the Columbia City light rail station and the farmers’ market.
Harbor said half of the units were leased before the building officially opened.
Harbor Urban, LLC is the developer, Exxel Pacific built it and Runberg Architecture Group was the architect. The landscape architect was Hewitt and the structural engineer was CPL. LEED consultant was O’Brien & Co.
Martha Barkman, director of design and construction for Harbor Urban, said, “We spent a lot of time early in the entitlement stages to make sure it was something that would be accepted by and truly fit into the existing community, which is a unique treasure.”
Harbor said GreenHouse is the first new market-rate apartments in Columbia City since 1969.
GreenHouse has 124 units, 20 percent of which are designated affordable under Seattle’s Multi-family Tax Exemption program.
This post has been updated since it was first published to name additional project team members.
The following post is by Brad Kahn:
The last few months have been busy at the Bullitt Center construction site on Madison Street, with structural, glazing, mechanical and other systems taking shape.
The Type-4 heavy timber structure is a first for Seattle since the 1920's, when heavy timbers were used in most commercial buildings. In the interim, the technology of heavy timber structures has advanced, with glued-laminated timbers replacing solid wood in many cases. Of course, forestry practices have also improved in the last 90 years, with 100% of the wood used at the Bullitt Center coming from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.
At this point, the structural work at the Bullitt Center – designed for a 250-year lifespan – is largely complete, with the roof firmly in place.
With the structure complete, work turned to the curtain wall. Of particular note, the Schuco window system being used is arguably the most efficient in the world. Yet before the Bullitt Center, these windows were not easily available on the West Coast, since the manufacturer was in Germany – quite a distance to ship windows weighing hundreds of pounds each. To address this challenge, the team was able to connect Schuco with Goldfinch Brothers, a glazing company in Everett, WA. Now Goldfinch is the exclusive manufacturer of the Schuco window system on the West coast, providing windows for the Bullitt Center and other projects.
On the mechanical side, the rainwater collection and treatment system is being built throughout the project, from roof to basement. While approval to use rainwater for drinking is pending, it is our hope that the Bullitt Center can help demonstrate that ultra-filtration, UV and activated charcoal can treat water as well as – if not better than – chlorine (which can't be use in the project, because chemicals are not allowed for water purification by the Living Building Challenge).
At this point, the Bullitt Center is on track for completion later this year, with occupancy by commercial tenants starting in January 2013. Conversations with potential tenants are underway, and interested companies should contact Point32, the project development partner, for more information.
Brad Kahn is president of Groundwork Strategies. He manages communications for the Bullitt Center project.