San Jose, Calif. -- West Coast Green attendees didn’t have to go far to see the possibilities for pre-fab green construction. The conference show house was constructed out of reused shipping containers in the middle of the show floor.

The Build Out -- SG Blocks, Harbringer House, designed by Lawrence Group

Video Courtesy: www.westcoastgreen.com

Designed by Lawrence Group and built by SG Blocks, the 1,700-square-foot, two-story Harbinger House was built on-site out of five 8,000-pound, reused shipping containers, which SG Blocks says are fairly affordable and often are too expensive to ship back to their point of origin. Melting down the steel would require 8,000 kWh of energy per container, whereas converting them takes 400 kWh, explains David Cross, business development director for SG Blocks. Its a process the company calls "value cycling," making the conversion with significantly less energy consumption.

Cross says one of the challenges with using shipping containers is eliminating preconceived notions, but he points out that a "container" cut down for use as the framework of a house is just a steel box truss and thus merely an instrument used to build. "It's no more a 'container' than a [stick-frame] house is trees," he says.

In addition to their green attributes, shipping containers as a structural material bring greater installation speed, says Cross, and strength suitable for earthquake- and hurricane-prone areas.

Houses made with SG Blocks' shipping containers will accept traditional cladding materials and are finished as normal on the interior.

The show house itself includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two balconies, kitchen, dining room, living room, and study.

In addition to its recycled structure, the home is appointed with eco-friendly features from top to bottom and inside out.

Some of the products used include:

Click here to view images of the home’s assembly.

A Step Up: The show house's stair way features engineered reclaimed plank hickory flooring from Restoration Timber.
Credit: Katy Tomasulo

A Step Up: The show house's stair way features engineered reclaimed plank hickory flooring from Restoration Timber.


Wide Open: The second bedroom lets in lots of light and facilitates air movement through banks of Marvin Integrity windows.
Credit: Katy Tomasulo

Wide Open: The second bedroom lets in lots of light and facilitates air movement through banks of Marvin Integrity windows.


Wide Open: The second bedroom lets in lots of light and facilitates air movement through banks of Marvin Integrity windows.
Credit: Katy Tomasulo

Wide Open: The second bedroom lets in lots of light and facilitates air movement through banks of Marvin Integrity windows.


Tile Style: The Vetrazzo vanity countertops in cubist clear offer not only great looks, but also 85% recycled glass countertop.
Credit: Katy Tomasulo

Tile Style: The Vetrazzo vanity countertops in cubist clear offer not only great looks, but also 85% recycled glass countertop.


Sound Surround: Modwalls tile in Viridian Pearl Mint was used for the tub surround. The tile is made with 98% pre-consumer recycled glass.
Credit: Katy Tomasulo

Sound Surround: Modwalls tile in Viridian Pearl Mint was used for the tub surround. The tile is made with 98% pre-consumer recycled glass.


Finer Flusher: Caroma's Sydney Smart 305 Round Front Plus toilet is WaterSense certified, offering dual flush of 1.28 gpf or .8 gpf. The flooring is Modwall 98% recycled glass tiles.
Credit: Katy Tomasulo

Finer Flusher: Caroma's Sydney Smart 305 Round Front Plus toilet is WaterSense certified, offering dual flush of 1.28 gpf or .8 gpf. The flooring is Modwall 98% recycled glass tiles.


All the Amenities: The home's kitchen includes Whirlpool appliances, Eco Top countertops made from FSC paper and bamboo paper, and SilverWalker Studios Craftsman series cabinets made from FSC-certified NAUF Purebond plywood with a low-VOC finish.
Katy Tomasulo All the Amenities: The home's kitchen includes Whirlpool appliances, Eco Top countertops made from FSC paper and bamboo paper, and SilverWalker Studios Craftsman series cabinets made from FSC-certified NAUF Purebond plywood with a low-VOC finish.