West Coast Green kicked off this morning and we’re excited to reveal this year’s stunning show house: the SG Blocks Harbinger prefab! Composed of five recycled shipping containers, the home features a durable steel envelope that is capable of withstanding hurricanes in Florida and earthquakes in California. A paragon of sustainability, the Harbinger house also features FSC-certified woods, solar panels, rainwater recycling, and an Agilewaves resource monitoring system. Designed by the Lawrence Group, the prefab was fabricated in a month and assembled on-site in just 4 hours and 47 minutes!
As the crowning exhibit at this year’s West Coast Green conference, the Harbinger House is an incredible exercise in sustainable architecture. The exterior features high-performance glazing and Integrity windows that provide excellent insulation and require less energy to manufacture than traditional windows. All of the wood finishes throughout the house are FSC Certified, and the home’s interior features an eclectic mix of sustainably sourced furniture by ecofabulous. However, according Lawrence Group principal Dan Rosenthal: “at base, the most fundamental strategy is that we’re re-using a shipping container that has lived its useful life as a shipping container”.
Built to withstand the test of time while traversing the globe, shipping containers are an intrepid green builder’s dream. The durable ready-made shells are a readily available and offer exciting possibilities for prefabricated architecture. By working with ConGlobal Industries, SG Blocks is able to source containers from depots nearest to the destination site and then fabricate them on the spot. The same local skilled workers who repair the containers are hired to repurpose them into house modules, which can then be easily shipped on trains. This process translates into a miniscule transportation footprint and blazingly fast build times: “when you deliver the finished components to site, you can install up to 12 containers using one crane in one day – that’s the equivalent of a 5,000 square foot house that is set in place in one day”.
Named by Gregory Schaefer, the Harbinger House is a symbol of “looking forward into the future of design and sustainability”. The final home was selected from 11 potential designs created by architects at the Lawrence Group. Rosenthal says: “one of the motives of the contest was to come up with a lot of houses that will be posted to the SG Blocks website and be sold as catalogue homes. We can not only bring the costs down if we’re mass producing them, but we’re opening up our potential buyers to the entire nation”. The Harbinger house, complete with all of its bells and whistles ran about $150 psf, and the Lawrence Group estimates that its shipping container prefabs will run roughly 15% cheaper than comparable stick-built homes.
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Photos by Mike Chino