Recycled shipping containers have the potential to be successfully used as a net-zero ready home. This study aims to evaluate the outcomes of a high-performance shipping container single-family housing project located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The project was awarded the Best Undergraduate Project in the Single-family division at the 2019 U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon Design Challenge.

The Hampton University Millennial Village Design Team designed a marketable net-zero ready container home for the ViBe Creative District in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Container Homes are not suitable for every homeowner, but they have a particular appeal to a generation of young and creative people across the country. For many municipalities in Virginia, where container housing is not readily accepted, the ViBe creative district has been having discussions with City code officials and local architects about the benefits. The Hampton University Millennial Village Design Team aimed to take advantage of the competition as an opportunity to explore a building construction method that is not widely seen in this part of the country. Testing design for net-zero readiness is a comprehensive way to understand how this type of construction performs from a building science standpoint. Collaboration with professional industry advisors helped the team to use research-based design methods to work on a unique project that the team believes will become a reality in the future.

For the performance assessment of a net-zero container house, several simulation tools were used to investigate the environmental impacts, daylight performance, envelope performance, Energy Use Intensity (EUI), Home Energy Rating System (HERS), and solar energy generation. As for energy standards and codes, the Virginia residential code (VRC) 2015, International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 2015 and The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1-2013 for residential buildings were consulted to set each variable for the net-zero container house project. The Rem/Rate energy simulation software achieved the HERS index of 51 and 0 without and with the applications of roof photovoltaics, respectively.

The U.S. Department of Energy, Solar Decathlon Design Challenge 2019
[Available at] (Assessed: July 10, 2019)
A Short History of Shipping Container Architecture
Prefabricated Houses and Modularity—Advantages and Disadvantages of Modular Construction
15 Well-Designed Shipping Container Homes for Life Inside the Box
[Available at] (Assessed: January 12, 2019)
Virginia Beach STAR Community Rating System
[Available from] (Assessed: February 5, 2019)
2009 Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan
Port of Virginia. Annual Report
[Available from] (Assessed: January 11, 2019)
5 Methods to Insulate Your Shipping Container Home
Closed-Cell Spray Insulation
International Energy Conservation Code 2015
Illumination Engineering Society
. 10th Edition
Lighting Handbook
U.S. Energy Information Administration
[Available from]
[Available at]
The BEopt™. (Building Energy Optimization Tool)
[Available from]
The U.S. Department of Energy
Identification of RESNET HERS Index Values Corresponding to Minimal Compliance with the IECC Performance Path
PVWatts Calculator
[Available from]
SolarEdge PV Calculator
Recommended Pipe Insulation R-value
IHeat Electric Tankless Water Heater Model S-16
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Author notes

1. Department of Architecture, School of Engineering and Technology, Hampton University, 100 E. Queen Street, Hampton, VA 23669, [email protected]

2. Department of Architecture, School of Engineering and Technology, Hampton University, 100 E. Queen Street, Hampton, VA 23669, [email protected]