Passive Modular Container Homes for Low-income, Energy-poor Communities

Passive Modular Container Homes for Low-income, Energy-poor Communities

United States
Organization type: 
for profit
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The developing world faces many challenges, and our team has addressed two of them very explicitly in this project - safe, structurally sound, affordable housing, and access to energy and electricity. Our container homes use recycled shipping containers as the core of our model because it is an ideal load bearing structure, readily available around the world, inexpensive, and much more rugged than other alternatives that low-income communities often adopt. The sections are interchangeable - the system is truly modular. Additionally, because of its construction, it is uniquely suited to design as a Passive House - one that requires substantially less electricity than similar-sized alternatives and can often be powered by a distributed source such as solar, small-wind, or even fuel cells.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The main benefit of ECoRe’s container house are the people that will inhabit the homes. We will provide homes that are flexible, safe, structurally sound, resistant to weather and many natural disasters, aesthetically pleasing, energy efficient, and inexpensive. Additionally the local community will benefit because the house design can prove to be a model for future development both using the structural ideas, as well as the energy efficiency and renewable energy components of our project. While ideally we would continue to roll out our fully integrated models, if communities garner only bits and pieces from our construction model (like the use of recycled CONEX boxes, our modular prefabricated construction, or our Passive House techniques), we will provide a great net benefit.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

To our knowledge, there is no other organization that has undertaken this endeavor, especially as it relates to low-income housing. ECoRe believes that energy efficiency should not be a luxury of the rich - in fact, it is the poor who would most benefit from efficiency improvements. If these efficiency measures are scoped into the initial construction, the marginal cost is fairly low, and it offers an immediate payback. Container boxes can also be pre-fabricated in centralized locations which will substantially cut down on cost at scale, rapidly deployed much more easily than other pre-fabricated housing options because being transported change to “transportability” is “a design characteristic” or some such.what they were designed to do. Centralized fabrication will also allow us to monitor labor conditions and ensure quality control much better than on-off development sites. Additionally, the modularity of the homes allow us to easily configure for different geographic and demographic constraints, as well as allows us to build to the cultural norms of the societies we are working with. By incorporating Passive House design techniques, it also addresses the issue of energy poverty, and often overlooked, but very real problem in under-served communities. Unlike traditional design, Passive Houses can reduce energy consumption from HVAC by upwards of 90%. If paired with energy efficient appliances and renewable energy, this housing system can be free from the fluctuations and intermittency from often unreliable or inaccessible electrical grids.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We currently have no active projects, but we are in discussion with several partner groups. A successful project will be one that can be built and sold for substantially lower cost than local comps.
About You
ECoRe Ventures
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

ECoRe Ventures

Organization Phone


Organization Address

214 Dewey Dr., Annapolis, MD 21401

Organization Country

, MD, Anne Arundel County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, DC, Washington

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

ECOREliving represents the confluence of the three following passionate social entrepreneurs combining their talent and resources to design and develop sustainable housing models with a renewable technology platform.

Brian Uher is co-founder of Amicus Consulting Services, the advisory arm of the Amicus Green Building Center. Brian is a Certified Passive House Consultant and a LEED-AP. He was a member of the sustainable design advisory board for the Portland Cement Association and is an active member of AIA's Washington, DC Committee on the Environment.

Zachary Pogue is a serial social entrepreneur, who helped found the Future Social Innovators Network (FUSION), and also served as one of the instructors for the Social Entrepreneurship Course Series. As part of the US State Department's Global Technology Corps, Zach served as the Operations Manager for the social enterprise Mobile Metrix (, which used innovative technology to bring identity to large populations of undocumented and “uncounted poor” living in Brazilian favelas. Zach was instrumental in the founding the Social Enterprise Initiative at American University.

Glenn Schatz is the co-founder of ECoRe, a former submarine officer, Naval Nuclear Engineer and Adjunct Professor of Energy Policy at the United States Naval Academy. Glenn's public policy expertise and understanding of the renewable energy space was critical to design decisions.

Social Impact
How many people have been impacted by your project?

Fewer than 100

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?


What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The pre-fabrication of the container homes will require higher skilled labor than traditional construction due to the requirement to cut and weld metal. This can be overcome through training, and while costs may be a bit higher for the first generation of container homes, the demand for this skill set grows, more people will seek the necessary training required which will lower labor costs.

The other major risk is the negative stigma associated with living in recycled homes or structures that may be associated with the corrugated aluminum sometimes associated with shanty towns. We will address this concern from the beginning by incorporating high-end, modern design principals, and using creative construction to minimize the “boxy” feel sometimes associated with container homes.

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

The evolution will include an iterative design - feedback from users will be incorporated into future designs. Functionality, energy output, and ease of maintenance will inform changes made to the modular system.

For each selection, please explain the financial and non-financial support from each

ECORE Ventures, Inc. is a for-profit US corporation that functions as a social enterprise. ECORE focuses on modeling triple-bottom line solutions for low to zero energy modular dwellings. Our initial phase of development will be within US serving domestic markets.

CUSTOMERS: Financing will come from pre-sales to customers that seek to live in neighborhoods that are market-feasible and demonstrate high potential benefits from integrated renewable technologies.

BUSINESSES: Traditional finance from lending institutions, such as corporate banks and community banks, with a successful history in financing multi-family duplexes and townhomes.

We will seek in-kind contributions from ECoRe’s existing technology partners who to demonstrate their technology (solar, vertical-axis wind, energy storage) in our novel Passive, modular design.

Additionally, real estate developers with access to working capital and experience with, and an affinity for, capital efficient, sustainable dwellings will be an initial source of finance. We currently have funding for land purchase and construction for the demonstration model.

NATIONAL GOVERNMENT: Our design is compatible with specifications required by HUD and other national government agencies for incorporation into rural and tribal communities helping to bring both innovation and energy-efficient design to communities that traditionally are not exposed to these designs.

OTHER: Support from Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, or similar entities, will be sought to garner community support and structure zoning appropr

How do you plan to grow and/or diversify your base of support in the next three years?

The next development phase will focus on markets outside the US to supply international demand ECORE’s customized solution for different climate zones and geographical conditions. Our flexible design satisfies the diverse needs of communities of various sizes, with and can be adapted to tribal and rural needs such as a higher degree of “energy poverty” and expensive existing grid dependencies.

FOUNDATIONS: We will apply for grants to finance the manufacture, transportation, and development of ECORE dwellings that specifically focus on sustainable development in regions of the world that face difficult climate living conditions, or are in the rebuilding phase from a tragic national disaster. We will also partner with foundations that seek to increase residential housing construction building capacity
and improve regional economic development in international markets.

OTHER: We will partner with international development banks and other donors after our successful proof of concept and deployment in the US and select international markets. We will continue to grow and decrease fabrication costs through capital reinvestment of initial earnings from private sales.

We will partner with federal agencies in the construction of rapidly deployable housing for customers like the US DoS, DoD, and USAID in select regions of interest.

Universities and other academic research partners will support the project with research and dissemination of the cost-effectiveness of our designs, and the associated positive externalities, especially in real estate economics.

Please select your areas of intervention in the home improvement market

Design, Technology, Technical assistance, Energy conservation, Renewable energy, Green housing, Environment, Income generation, Urban development, Rural development.

Is your innovation addressing barriers in the home improvement/progressive housing market? If so, please describe in detail your mechanisms of intervention

By combining cost efficiencies of prefabricated design, along with emerging technologies and proven trends in energy efficient design, we are bringing market competitive, low-to-zero energy dwelling designs to new and existing markets. Additionally, we are serving the needs of foundations and cities that are part of the “new normal” living cities initiatives to provide innovative and flexible living designs to cities facing 21st century challenges. Our technology partners are allowing us to package whole systems effectively - from structure to lighting to interior materials - to bring coherence and high performance to market segments otherwise unable to access these advantages.

Are you currently collaborating with private companies, or have you partnered with private companies in the past? With which companies?

Yes, with Amicus Green Building Center (sustainable materials supply), Brook Rose Development (design and development partner), Carbon Finance Solutions (energy finance partner) and Harvey Hottel, Inc. (HVAC and electrical design partner)

Please describe in detail the nature of the partnership(s)

Amicus has been a leader in the Washington, DC area for green building and supplies and was the first such operation in the mid-Atlantic nearly 7 years ago. They have deep in-house expertise and relationships with the sustainable materials supplier community. Website:

Brook Rose is an award-winning interior designer who is very competitively priced for our market. He provides interior materials and affordable, high-quality labor.

Carbon Finance Strategies is a long-term partner of Brian Uher on our team and has been unique in the solar and biomass development markets in its consulting approach which focuses on maximum value retention for owners of the solar arrays. they also serve as a clearing house for carbon and clean energy credits and provide a low-cost conduit for monetizing these elements of renewable power. website:

The owners of Harvey Hottel, Inc. have been a mechanical systems strategic partner with Amicus for more than 5 years. It is a leader in the Washington, DC metro region with regard to emerging technologies and efficient design. They have sophisticated in-house design and have collaborated on dozens of high-efficiency residential projects. website:

Select the unit(s) with which the partnership was formed

Other (please specify).