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Each post below contains building plans or design tools for download and/or purchase. Contact us if you would like additional information.

Aegis I – a passive-solar container home kit

floor plans: $75
building kit: contact us
A “Not So Big House” –
Aegis I is a 1 bed / 1 bath  kit with a steel shipping container as the primary structure (Intermodal Steel Building Unit “ISBU”).  If purchased as a kit, all materials and supplies needed to construct the home will be packaged in the container (slab on grade and site anchorage not included).   
“Shelter” From The Storm” –
Since the shipping container forms the shell of the primary living space, the ISBU is naturally storm resistant.  In fact, the ISBU portion of the home kit forms a complete prefabricated living unit comparable to a FEMA trailer.  If you need immediate housing during disaster recovery, please contact us so we can provide custom site installation and anchorage design for wind and earthquake resistance along with recommendations for orientation and site grading and drainage.
A passive solar, energy efficient home “designed with nature” 
The stick-framed living area is designed as a “sunspace” – a passive solar room that absorbs heat in the floor slab.  That “thermal mass” keeps the air in the sunspace comfortable for the majority of the year even during outdoor temperature extremes.  Air-conditioning in a sunspace is not required or recommended; its primary purpose is to increase comfort in and reduce utility costs in the primary structure (the ISBU in this case).  If the sunspace becomes too hot or cold for comfort it can be closed of from the primary structure and it will act as a “buffer zone” against temperature extremes.
The Passive solar / passive cooling design saves money and reduces GHG emissions year round –
During the winter the absorbed heat in the sunspace slab warms the home naturally (passive solar), and during the summer the absorbed heat and daylighting shifts the peak load from the hot afternoon hours to the evening hours when the outdoor temperature is falling (passive cooling).  It is not uncommon for a passive solar home to save 40 to 60 percent on utilities, with a corresponding reduction in carbon footprint.
One Step Away from “Off The Grid” –
If purchased in conjunction with a composting toilet, a well pump or rainwater harvesting system, solar water heating or a hybrid water heater, and PV or wind electricity generation, this energy-efficient, passive-solar home can be taken “off the grid” with minimal additional investment.
The home grows as the family grows –
If desired, “Aegis I” can be used as a starter home, and a second ISBU can be added later to form “Aegis II” – the two story (3) bed / (1 1/2) bath home.  Or you can contact us for custom configurations and additions.
Live while you Build –
Once unloaded, the interior of the shipping container contains a complete and finished living unit including a full kitchen, accessible bath, and living / sleeping area.  So you can live comfortably and in safety as you construct the “sunspace" living area and roof garden.
Click below to download the plans. If you would like to purchase the kit, please contact us directly at wbswain@SustainableArch.com.

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Rainwater Harvesting System Design spreadsheet


The following spreadsheet can be used to size a rainwater harvesting system based on annual precipitation for your area (e.g. from Weatherbase.com) and the square footage of your roof.
Once you have those two values, you can play with the amount of time you irrigate and the number of sprinkler heads until the irrigation matches the system capacity.
These calculations will determine the size of your cistern and/or number of rainbarrels and the number of sprinkler heads you will need.
You can price these items locally. Please contact Sustainable Architecture PLLC for assistance in acquiring a cistern and instructions on installation.

Download Formats:
  • OpenOffice spreadsheet
  • (SXC)
  • Microsoft Excel
  • (XLS)

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W. Brent Swain, NCARB
Sustainable Architecture PLLC
153 Lakes Drive S, Oxford MS 38655
662/801-2701