Near the center of Austin, Texas, a forty foot shipping container is being converted into a fully permitted single family house.
I decided to construct this house so that my life would be more sustainable, personally and globally.
The modern building process is driven by profit and not designed for living and efficiency.
© 2011 Zach Hollandsworth / Marfa, Texas
Under 300 square feet
By keeping things small, it makes it easier to heat and cool. No energy is wasted conditioning parts of the house that are not being used, making it more realistic to be 100% solar powered.
© 2007 Zach Hollandsworth / South Lamar, Austin, TX
Minimal Site Disturbance
Instead of using a Bobcat to clear the whole lot, 19 of 20 trees were saved, mostly native species. This also allows for shade and protects the habitats of the previous inhabitants, mostly birds and squirrels.
© 2007 Zach Hollandsworth / Broccoli Crops in Soledad, California
Sustainable Food Sources
With a small house, there is plenty of leftover space for cultivation of food sources, like a vegetable garden, fish, chickens, and bees.
© 2009 Zach Hollandsworth / Barton Springs, Austin, TX
Solar Heated Water
Solar water heaters can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use — sunshine — is free.
© 2007 Zach Hollandsworth / High Hope Ranch, Glen Rose, TX
By using efficient fixtures and appliances, small square footage, and alternative methods for harnessing energy; it is possible to completely offset the electricity usage for the entire house with solar power.
© 2008 Zach Hollandsworth / Austin, TX
In conjunction with the radiant floor and solar heated water, heating for the house will be derived from the combination of these by thermostat controlled circulation of the water through the floor.
© 2006 Zach Hollandsworth / Imploded Building Fort Worth, TX
Many of the materials used for the house (including the container!) have had previous lives and functions and are being reused. Materials have even been salvaged from other new construction sites diverting it from the landfill.
© 2010 Zach Hollandsworth / Parking Lot, Fort Worth, TX
Rainwater harvesting provides an independent water supply during regional water restrictions. It provides water when there is a drought, prevents flooding of low-lying areas, replenishes the ground water level. Promotes both water and energy conservation.
© 2009 Zach Hollandsworth / Dia De Muertos, Austin, TX
LED is a highly energy efficient lighting technology, and has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States. Residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.
© 2008 Zach Hollandsworth / Enchanted Rock State Park
Green roofs serve several purposes, such as absorbing rainwater, providing insulation, creating a habitat for wildlife, and helping to lower urban air temperatures and mitigate the heat island effect.
© 2006 Zach Hollandsworth / Fort Worth, TX
Radiant floor systems pump heated water from a solar collector through tubing laid in a pattern under the floor. Thick concrete slabs are ideal for storing heat from solar energy systems, which have a fluctuating heat output. The downside of thick slabs is their slow thermal response time, which makes strategies such as night or daytime setbacks difficult if not impossible. Most experts recommend maintaining a constant temperature in homes with these heating systems.
Radiant heating has a number of advantages. It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses. People with allergies often prefer radiant heat because it doesn’t distribute allergens like forced air systems can. They use little electricity, a benefit for homes off the power grid or in areas with high electricity prices.
Despite its name, radiant floor heating depends heavily on convection, the natural circulation of heat within a room as air warmed by the floor rises.