West Coast Green 2009: Instant Housing for Disaster Relief Fits In A Shipping Container (Video)

disaster relief house image

Image via Green Horizon Manufacturing

This year's West Coast Green showhome is a special one, on display in public for the first time. The timing, really, couldn't have been more appropriate considering the horrible news streaming in about massive earthquakes happening globally. It is a shipping container disaster relief house from Green Horizon, carefully engineered to be incredibly simple to deliver, fast to set up, and self-sustaining.

The house is created to fit within a shipping container so it can be delivered quickly on trucks to disaster sites. It can be unloaded within 15 minutes, and within another 90 minutes, completely poped out from 8 feet wide to 12 feet wide, anchored down, and the water and solar power systems set up.

disaster house water photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

The water systems underneath the unit are designed so that it is purified on the way in, and on the way out. The creators' goal was to have zero ecological impact on whatever land the house is temporarily placed on. Not only that, but the units themselves are manufactured with 100% recycled or recyclable materials.

There is also a solar array that powers batteries for off-grid power. But a fully charged battery comes with the unit when it arrives so power is instantly available. As many as eight units can be hooked up together to create one large space, such as an organization hub for disaster relief workers.

The units come complete with a kitchenette, including microwave and oven, a fold-out bed including bedding, dried foods, and everything else needed for a family to be able to move right in that day and be relatively comfortable.

disaster home bed photo

disaster house rooms photo

disaster house kitchen photo

They're rated for zone three, and do well in every climate except arctic zones. It makes them ideal for places like Iraq, areas of Africa where humanitarian efforts are happening, or in the south when hurricane Katrina hit. Additionally, they're designed so each segment is replaceable. Once one family moves out, the unit can be shipped back to Green Horizon's manufacturing facility where it is refurbished, any parts needing replacement are popped out and a new piece popped in, and it is sent back out to house another family.

There are a couple units completed so far, but the company has yet to ramp up production. They have a facility in Stockton, California, which puts them close to trains and ports for distribution when disaster hits, and there are plans for several other manufacturing facilities in the US and Germany. However, paperwork has been a bear - the EPA is still holding up approval on their black water systems, though the grey water systems have been approved, and CEO James Pope stated during a tour that he was told his project is taking more paperwork than it took to build the Sears Tower.

And funding, of course, is an issue. The company still doesn't have the resources to be able to provide relief shelters for, for example, the current crises happening from the earthquakes in the Pacific. They need the ability to ramp up production so that they can be called on when relief housing is needed in large numbers.

The units retail for $110,000 with all the bells and whistles. But should buyers want to ditch the solar panels or other self-sustaining features, or if the government wishes to buy a large quantity for a disaster relief site, the price drops quite a bit.

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