New LEED credit for timber traceability, ICC code releases for repurposed shipping containers, San Francisco clears ADU permit backlog, tech keys to affordable housing, and a 3D-printed 2,000 square-foot home
ICC Releases 2019 Guidelines for Safe Use of Repurposed Shipping Containers
The International Code Council released the 2019 guideline for the safe use of repurposed shipping containers. Guideline for the Safe Use of ISO Intermodal Shipping Containers Repurposed as Buildings and Building Components provides an in-depth, technical overview for how to design, review, and approve intermodal shipping containers as building elements. It is intended to benefit state and local jurisdictions, owners, architects, builders, and engineers.
There is currently a lack of regulatory and compliance guidelines pertaining to the growing trend of shipping container repurposing. “The new guideline will provide communities with the tools they need to ensure that repurposed shipping containers are used in a safe and responsible manner,” said Code Council CEO Dominic Sims.
The Code Council also announced that it is accepting applications for its Off-Site and Modular Construction Standard Consensus Committee as it prepares developing two new comprehensive standards. The committee will develop two new off-site and modular construction standards: Planning, Design, Fabrication and Assembly; and Inspection and Regulatory Compliance.
New Timber Traceability LEED Credit Released
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released a new LEED pilot credit designed to increase transparency in timber supply chains and reduce the risk of illegally harvested wood entering the supply chain. Development of the Timber Traceability LEED pilot credit was led by a team of timber legality, forestry, and environmental representatives from organizations recognized for leading the fight against illegal logging. Transparency regarding the origin of timber, combined with the use of modern wood identification technologies, can significantly reduce the risk of illegal timber entering the supply chain, according to a USGBC news release.
Drawing on successful anti-counterfeiting initiatives in fashion and the global honey trade, experts believe that DNA, mass spectrometry, and stable isotope analysis can help wood to be traced from end product to its forest origin. This will make it significantly more difficult to falsify documentation about where the timber was harvested.
“Many of the most destructive illegal logging operations around the world depend on masking the true identity and origin of the wood, and this initiative by USGBC tackles that problem directly by incentivizing the latest wood ID technologies,” said Alexander von Bismarck, executive director, Environmental Investigation Agency. “Implementing this credit can lay a foundation to ensure that green buildings don’t become unwitting hiding places for wood stolen from the last great forests of the world.”
New 3D Printer can Print up to a 2,000 Square-Foot House
ICON, based in Austin, Texas, announced its new “Vulcan II” 3D printer that can print up to a 2,000 square-foot house. The company says such a house can be built for half of the cost of a conventionally built home of the same size and produces nearly zero waste.
The company says it will start shipping the product in April. ICON also announced a proprietary concrete/mortar material that it calls “Lavacrete.” The material has passed every structural test and is safe for people as well as resilient to the varieties of conditions it may encounter, the company says.
Technology Could Help Develop New Approaches to Affordable Housing
Technology can foster new business models and opportunities to fundamentally change how supply and demand functions in the housing market, according to a panelist at a recent South By Southwest discussion. Such innovations could help alleviate housing shortages and create more affordable housing.
Technology platforms could help people find new places to live that already exist such as the 3.6 million empty bedrooms in the top 100 housing markets. Other solutions could include fractional ownership or rental agreements that allow greater mobility and flexibility. Also, new capital and credit structures could give more people access to the home-buying market and more predictability in the rental market.
San Francisco Clears Backlog of Hundreds of Accessory Dwelling Unit Permits
San Francisco has reportedly cleared a backlog of more than 900 permits for accessory dwelling units. The city’s mayor had ordered departments to dramatically cut down on the time it takes to assess, revise, and approve permits for these so-called in-law units or granny flats.
The city has already issued 439 permits for ADUs. More than 90% of these units are rent-controlled. In past years, departments involved in reviewing the permits, including the Fire Department, the Department of Building Inspection, the city’s Public Utilities Commission, Planning, and Public Works, often gave conflicting interpretations of the same building codes when reviewing ADU applications.