t’s called “the core” and it may play a role in international emergency relief situations and more Williston building projects.
Rod Russell brought a background in home construction to the new design, which puts bathrooms and laundry facilities in one central part of a housing unit and minimizes the need for pipes beneath floors. A patent is pending, but Russell has brought the design to the Bakken in the newly constructed Moen Ranch Crew Camp near Epping.
The camp includes 60 beds and 30 spaces of graveled truck parking, with six bedrooms and two bathrooms in each of the 10 units. Russell said in early September that he was in discussion with several companies to contract them out at a negotiable price of $80 per night, per bed.
The lodging is also designed to be highly efficient, with insulated LED lights, reflective coating, and a layer of foam that holds in heat in the winter and cold in the summer.
“It’s like sleeping in an igloo cooler, it is that efficient,” he said. “What we are doing is building for the winter here.”
Although Russell said he’s sometimes skeptical of a “green” movement that is at times actually less economical, finding ways to save on high energy bills or use resources wisely is exciting.
“Efficiency is everything to me,” he said. “To me, that’s what green is.”
Although this particular construction is not solar-powered, it could have been, and Russell said he regrets making the choice to connect with a nearby power hook-up, which will be more expensive in the long run. But in other permanent constructions he is considering in Ray, Tioga, and Trenton, he plans to go the solar route.
“It really does have a place up here,” he said.
Although the idea of a foam lining isn’t new, the lack of pipes passing through the foam is the difference with the core, he said.
“It’s all those holes through it that weakens the integrity of it,” he explained.
Russell, who resides in Idaho, said he has been developing the idea for a housing design that puts utilities in one place for nearly two decades and began designing the core five years ago.
“I kind of challenged myself to come up with a better way,” he said.
Bringing experience with FEMA and the Red Cross to the design, Russell said he also saw an opportunity to use it in the lives of people whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by major disasters.
Potentially, the core unit could arrive in a disaster area and be used immediately as a toilet and shower, with a temporary construction built quickly around it. But what sets the idea apart is that the core could be saved when the emergency passes and be integrated into a permanent house for displaced people.
“That’s a very efficient use of resources,” he said.
Russell said the design went all the way to the White House in consideration for use in Haiti, hitting a snag in funding as questions arose in how to allocate funds for a temporary and permanent solution.
It also missed the Japan emergency by about a week, but Russell said he hopes to be able to get it on the ground in any future emergencies – even ones closer to home, like the Minot floods.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said.
Overall, the costs of construction are somewhat high but pay off in one and a half to two years in energy savings, he said.
“We don’t build it cheaper, but we build it better,” he said.