I’m ready for my close-up, Mr Deville!

We’re doing another Commercial ISBU Project!

I know, I know, I help families build homes… what’s up with the commercial stuff?

What am I doing building “Green Screen Studios?

Well, I did always want to be in the movies…”

(But the closest I ever got was paying $9 bucks to get in… usually alone… sigh! );)

But all that wishing and hoping did get me across those red ropes to THIS door:

Recently, I was contacted by Vic Cherubini, the head guy at Epic Software Group.

After buying my book;

“Introduction to Container Homes and Buildings”

He (and the team at Epic) wanted me on the team as they construct the “Studio of Dreams”…

The Epic Software Group is a multimedia production company located in The Woodlands, (Houston) Texas.  Founded in 1990, the company operates from a state-of-the-art production facility filled with an incredible team of Artists, Animators and Programmers.

It’s about to get “even more state-of-the-art”.

Below is a partial reprint of a recent article that appeared in the Woodlands Villager on October, 7, 2010.

By: Lauren Hodges (lhodges@hcnonline.com)


“…The process Vic (Cherubini) is undertaking has been a really inclusive type of process. His blogs and weekly reports about the construction will prove invaluable for anyone else planning to construct this type of building. With this Creative Co-op, Silver Rock and epic will be capable of providing among the highest-quality production services in the greater Houston market, few other companies are capable of what we together will be able to accomplish. The Creative Co-Op is going to be a strong, strong opportunity.”

There will be three other units open for lease, a 28-by-44-foot green screen studio, and epic will be using studio space.

“It will be built out of cargo containers used for inter-modal steel building units,” Cherubini said. “The kind you see for shipping on the back of a 40-foot tractor-trailer. They are in excess supply. … They are incredibly strong and hurricane resistant.”

He said this option will be inexpensive per square foot and is a green option, which he refers to as upcycling or taking something intended for one purpose and using it for a better purpose. Each unit is 320 square feet, which also makes the construction process faster. They are seeking recycled items from people doing renovations or wholesalers with excess inventory. This includes windows, doors, cabinets and other building materials.”


If that wasn’t enough to endear me to these guys;

(Editor’s note: Formatting is OURS – Don’t blame Vic!)

Epic Receives Final Permitting Approvals for the Creative Co-Op

October 8, 2010 – The Woodlands, Texas – this afternoon we got a call from the Permitting Department in Conroe, TX informing us that the Fire Marshall and County Engineer signed off on the building plans we submitted on September 6th. With the 4 permits in hand (TX Accessibility Standards, South Montgomery MUD District, Fire Marshall, County Engineer), we are officially into the construction phase of the project.


Since I am new to the construction process (at this level anyway) and building with containers is new for most contractors, I knew I would need some help to make sure we get the job done right. Over the past year I have been collecting information on ISBU container projects from all parts of the web.   I have assembled this research into a document that I will update and post to the blog so others can quickly find links to those sites I found helpful.

One very helpful source has been a fellow by the name of Alex Klein, the author of the blog;

The Life and Times of a “Renaissance Ronin .

(You know it , you love it… it’s our OTHER blog!)

Alex has literally written the book on container construction;

Introduction to Container Homes and Buildings

… and for $9.95, this e-book is a no-brainer purchase for anyone even remotely interested in building with Corten Steel boxes.

I spent several days going through his site with a fine tooth comb, and then sent him an email on our project.

He responded immediately with a detailed reply that was VERY helpful.

He suggested a consulting arrangement to help me with the project, and we worked out a deal that is mutually beneficial to both of us.

Alex is located in Mississippi, and just a phone call/email away…


Stay tuned as we follow the build of an incredible Studio that will really make people sit up and listen when the phrase “I’m building with ISBUs” pops up!

And don’t give up on your dreams! My movie debut is right around the corner! I can FEEL it!


See ya next time!

8 comments for “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr Deville!

  1. henaynei
    October 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Mazel Tov! What an opportunity to give ISBUs and Container Home Consultants a little “screen time.” It’s perfect!

  2. zehboss
    October 26, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Have you moved on past GSHP systems yet? GSHPs are limited by the efficiency of the compressor, maximum COP in the 4 to 5 range. Solar Thermal Absorption units run all off solar and there for have a COP of infinity since paid for input is zero. Direct gain solar with high retention active thermal mass also has a COP of infinity since paid for input is zero. Concentrated solar is another option to consider in projects. I have used each of these types of systems with great results. Love your container work!


  3. October 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    For those of you looking in that don’t understand “the lingo” – When Brian says GSHP, he’s talking about Ground Source Heat Pumps.

    GSHPs are powered systems (they are electric) that take heating and cooling a structure right to the ground, literally. They do this by tapping into the stored energy of the greatest solar collector in existence: the earth. These systems use the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.

    How do ground source heat pumps work?

    GSHPs have loops, both closed or open, that are installed in three distinct ways; horizontally, vertically, or in a water source like a lake or a pond. (I’ve even seen them installed in irrigation canals.) The loop type just depends on what you have to work with. Your site will almost certainly determine the most economical choice for installation of the ground loop.

    In a closed loop system – water or antifreeze solution is pumped through plastic pipes buried beneath the earth’s surface. Sounds easy enough, right? During the winter, the fluid collects heat from the earth and carries it through the system and into the building. But in the summertime, things change significantly. During the summer, the system reverses itself to cool the building by pulling heat OUT of the building, where the system actually carries the heat out of the house and into the ground.

    If you think it through, this process creates free hot water in the summer and delivers substantial hot water savings in the winter.

    But I mentioned Open Loop Systems, too, right? Well, Open loop systems operate on the same principle as closed loop systems and can be installed whenever you have an adequate supply of water available. The difference here is that you discharge the water. Benefits similar to the closed loop system are obtained.

    In a Solar Thermal Absorption Unit, you use roof-mounted solar tube collectors to provide hot water to absorption units, that in turn provide cold water to air handling units on the roof. Cold air is then circulated through pre-cast (usually concrete) hollow core ceiling slabs of the office, providing cool air and radiant cooling. The way this system is woven into the building structure defines how sustainable and committed it’s builders and occupants are to “living green”. I’ve seen it done in a lot of places, and it’s being accomplished in places like Dubai with great success.

    Solar thermal collectors work by using a lens (like a Fresnel reflector optic) to concentrate the suns energy, sometimes up to 25 times more, in fact. The optic system is built from lightweight and incredibly reflective mirrors (usually made of aluminum) which pivot in unison to “track” or follow the sun. This whole system is sealed, to protect it from dirt, grime and Mother Nature.

    Solar energy is collected from the mirrors in a high performance receiver tube and sent a space dedicated to producing air conditioning.

    Inside that AC room you use a “double-effect absorption chiller” that converts the heat into chilled water. This cold water then supplements the cooling for the structure.

    Obviously, Brian is a “big dawg” working on big projects. Most of this “tech” is well beyond the families we usually assist, building super-insulated energy efficient homes and it would exceed the boundaries we find ourselves facing as we build small sustainable homes and “small to mid sized” commercial structures.

    I hope that Brian will share some some of his experiences with us, possibly with examples of his work… and how it can relate to smaller structures with less budget!

    Thanks, Brian!


  4. admin
    October 31, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Good stuff Maynard!

  5. Donovan Canzio
    February 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm

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