Title:
Modularized Self-sustaining Building System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-sustaining modularized building system comprised of prefabricated components. The self-sustaining utilities are fully integrated into the modules, allowing service and protection agencies to operate in remote areas in an eco-friendly manner.



Inventors:
Fennell, James R. (Colorado Springs, CO, US)
Application Number:
12/031623
Publication Date:
08/20/2009
Filing Date:
02/14/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H14/00; E04B1/348; E04H1/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, CHI Q
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
James R. Fennell (Colorado Springs, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shop manufactured modularized, self-sustaining building system where the basic module options comprise a general sleeping/working module, a living module with kitchen, laundry, and bathroom facilities, and a service bay module where each module is itself self-sustaining and operates independent of any connected modules in regards to power, water, heating, and cooling.

2. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the general sleeping/working module is comprised of structural insulated panels used to frame the walls, roof, and floor, and where openings for doors, windows, and other building systems are added to the panels when fabricated in the shop; where the interior and exterior finishes are also applied in the shop; and where the module is self-sustaining in regards to power, water, heating, and cooling.

3. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the living module is comprised of structural insulated panels used to frame the walls, roof, and floor; where openings for doors, windows, and other building systems are added to the panels when fabricated in the shop; where the interior and exterior finishes are also applied in the shop; and where the module is self-sustaining in regards to power, water, heating, and cooling, especially in regards to water usage.

4. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the service bay module is comprised of structural insulated panels used to frame the walls and roof; where openings for doors, windows, and other building systems are added to the panels when fabricated in the shop; where the interior and exterior finishes are also applied in the shop; where the floor is vehicle-grade concrete, pavers, rock beds, or other options; and where the module is self-sustaining in regards to power, water, heating, and cooling.

5. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the module foundation system is comprised of micropile helical piers.

6. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the modules are configured to operate on DC power that is derived from a roof-mounted photovoltaic array and stored in storage batteries for dark hours usage.

7. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the modules are also configured to operate on DC power that is derived from a wind turbine generator and stored in storage batteries for later usage.

8. A modularized, self-sustaining building system powered from a DC power source as in claim 6 wherein the power distribution throughout each module is to DC outlets and LED lighting.

9. A modularized, self-sustaining building system powered from a DC power source as in claim 6 wherein there is a biodiesel generator outputting DC power as an emergency back-up power source.

10. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the water is pumped in or transported in to fill fresh water storage tanks where it is used by the building inhabitants and then the water is filtered and purified for reuse until it is unusable at which point it is either distributed as gray water irrigation water or sent to a septic tank and associated leach field.

11. A modularized, self-sustaining building system where water is pumped in or transported in to fill fresh water storage tanks as in claim 10 wherein the module is equipped with existing low water using devices such as toilets, showers, sinks, and laundry equipment.

12. A modularized, self-sustaining building system where water is pumped in or transported in to fill fresh water storage tanks as in claim 10 wherein all water in the system is tasked to the fire suppression system when called.

13. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the modules are heated using hot water collected from roof mounted solar collectors and collector tubing in south-facing walls and then stored in the insulated crawl space as in-floor radiant heating that is re-circulated for maximum efficiency; and where the same hot water collection system provides the hot water for domestic use.

14. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the modules are cooled using structural features that include shading on the south, east, west, and roof of the module so that the sun does not strike the buildings surface.

15. A modularized, self-sustaining building system as in claim 1 wherein the modules are also cooled using low voltage remote condensers to remove heat from module interiors and re-circulate the cooled air using wall-mounted air handling units.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to self-sustaining modularized building systems designed primarily but not exclusively for services and protections agencies. The modularized building system components are of three possible module types that are prefabricated to include self-sustaining utilities. The three module types include service bay modules, sleep/work modules, and water-use modules. The modules are all designed with active and passive solar features. The water-use modules are designed to use local or transported water, then recycle and reuse until considered wastewater.

Service and protection agencies, including emergency response, fire service, airport services, military, and disaster relief often operate in areas away from utility access or make an institutional choice to operate in an eco-friendly manner. The present invention addresses the need for the application of utilities in an eco-friendly manner based on modular design principles.

Modularized buildings for remote or urban locations are a well-established invention. The standardization of designs and structure has been addressed in various ways by U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,493,996, 4,573,292, 4,327,529, and 4,263,757. Modularized buildings that directly allow for integrated water usage have been addressed by U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,070,661 and 4,763,451. These inventions presume utilities will be provided while the present invention does not rely on provided utilities and instead provides its own utilities.

Modularized solar buildings have been addressed by several inventions, the most interesting example is U.S. Pat. No. 4,325,205. This particular invention makes detailed use of passive solar techniques applied to the interior and the exterior walls. The present invention does not directly use the primary glass face and interior design. Rather, the present invention uses exterior shading or heat-gathering systems, as the season warrants.

The invention which tries to address the needs of remote self-sustaining buildings is embodied in U.S. Pat. No. 6,393,775. This invention is a modularized utilities container that is equipped to provide utilities to buildings in remote locations. The container is either integrated into new or existing buildings or it is adjacent to the building to which it is supplying power, water processing, and sewage disposal. The present invention addresses the same needs, but the processes are integrated into the building design and are eco-friendly.

The present invention's goal is to provide a self-sustaining modularized building system comprised of prefabricated components. The self-sustaining utilities are fully integrated into the modules, allowing service and protection agencies to operate in remote areas in an eco-friendly manner.

Whatever the merits of the inventions cited above, the present invention is able to meet the fully integrated, self-sustaining goals as the others are not.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF INVENTION

Many agencies, for example rural fire service, must set up stations in remote locations where there is no easy access to utility services. The present invention is electrically self-sustaining, designed with photovoltaic collection arrays and wind generator to collect and distribute power, stored in battery cells for nighttime or calm periods, with a biodiesel generator as a backup system. In addition to active solar collection, the south, east, and west sides of the structure are equipped with movable shading devices that disallow direct solar gain during the cooling season and allow full gain during the heating season.

In addition to power, the exampled fire service facility must also meet water use needs. The water-use is addressed with a storage tank for domestic water and the automatic fire sprinkler system. This allows the water to be provided by a local well or other water source, or to be transported in from a remote location. Domestic water is distributed to low-water faucets and valves. Toilet water is collected, filtered, and stored until distributed as gray water. Gray water is discharged to landscape irrigation, septic drain field, or septic storage, depending on local conditions.

The hydronic heating system relies on roof-top hot water collectors to heat the water. The water from the roof-top collectors is either distributed immediately to radiant heat devices in the module or is stored in the hydronic storage tank. Additionally, water for a geoexchange well can be integrated into the heating system using the same methods, where the water is either distributed to the radiant heating system or stored in the hydronic tank.

The present invention includes three module types: a service bay module, a sleep/work module, and a water-use module. The service bay module addresses, for example, the need to house and service firefighting vehicles and equipment. It requires only self-sustaining power and hydronic heating. The work/sleep module, for example, provides firefighter sleeping space and office space. It requires only self-sustaining power and hydronic heat. The water-use module is the most fully self-sustaining module. It provides, for example, firefighter kitchen and bathroom facilities. The water-use module requires self-sustaining power, hydronic heat, and the domestic water system.

The modules are designed to be configured together in any variety of ways. For example, some remote firefighting locations may be volunteer sites and require only a few service bays and a water-use module. Other locations may be fully staffed and require many bays, a water-use module, and several sleep/work modules. The self-sustaining modularized building system of the present invention provides the mechanism to address this plurality of needs while maintaining an eco-friendly footprint.

DRAWING DESCRIPTIONS

FIG. 1 Overall Floor Plan

FIG. 2 Isometric View of Sleep/Work Module with Structural and Enclosure Systems

FIG. 3 Sectional View of Sleep/Work Module with PV Service and Hydronic System

FIG. 4 Floor Plan of Sleep/Work Module

FIG. 5 Elevations and Roof Plan of Sleep/Work Module

FIG. 6 Isometric View of Water-use Module with Structural and Enclosure Systems

FIG. 7 Sectional View of Water-use Module with PV Service, Hydronic System, and Domestic Water

FIG. 8 Floor plan of Water-use Module

FIG. 9 Elevations and Roof Plan of Water-use Module

FIG. 10 Isometric View of Service Bay Module with Structural System and Enclosure

FIG. 11 Sectional View of Service Bay Module with PV Service and Hydronic System

FIG. 12 Floor Plan Service Bay Module

FIG. 13 Elevations and Roof Plan of Service Bay Module

FIG. 14 Isometric View of Connector Module

FIG. 15 Sectional View of Connector Module

FIG. 16 Floor Plan of Connector Module

FIG. 17 Elevations and Roof Plan of Connector Module

FIG. 18 Sectional View of the Auto-closing Window Shade

FIG. 19 Diagram of Photovoltaic Power System

FIG. 20 Diagram of Hydronic Heating System

FIG. 21 Diagram of Split-unit Air Conditioning System

FIG. 22 Diagram of Potable Water Storage and Distribution System

FIG. 23 Diagram of Waste-water Filtration, Recycling, and Discharge System

FIG. 24 Diagram of Automatic Sprinkler System

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION

The complete physical integration of the modules for the preferred embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 1. The floor plan shows the sleep/work module 1, the water-use module 2, the service bay module 3, and the connector module 4. Each of the functional modules, sleep/work, water-use, and service bay, are designed so that additional modules can be easily assembled and integrated for larger facilities than are illustrated in this embodiment. Although FIG. 1 illustrates only one sleep/work module, one water-use module, and one service bay, each module is self-sustaining and expansion is easily accommodated by providing interior doors. The connector module 4 is primarily to transition between a sleep/work or water-use module and the service bay module.

FIGS. 2, 6, and 10 illustrate how each module utilizes the same helical pier foundation 5 system. The piers are augured into the earth leaving the top of the pier flush with the finished grade, which is approximately six inches below the floor elevation. At the perimeter of the modules the space between the piers is filled with a landscape block retaining wall 9 to form a frost barrier. FIG. 2 illustrates how landscaping block retaining walls 9 are used to create the necessary crawl space beneath portions of the sleep/work module and the water-use module which is used to house the hydronic storage tanks 27 and, in the water-use module FIG. 6, the domestic water tanks 36 and grey water storage tanks 45. FIG. 10 illustrates that the service bay floors are comprised of precast concrete slabs 6 set directly on the grade with the accompanying hydronic tank embedded in the grade or fill. In alternative embodiments, concrete pavers or rock beds are optional flooring material for the service bays.

Beginning with the sleep/work module FIG. 2, the supports of the module are comprised of wood or metal columns, beams, and trusses 7, The walls, roofs, and non-vehicular floors are frames using structural insulated panels (SIP) 8. The SIPs consist of extruded light-gauge steel studs at 16 inches on center with the cavities filled with rigid insulation. The SIPs are shop fabricated with appropriate openings for the doors, windows, and building systems, and delivered on site for installation. The insulation value of these panels is extremely high, minimizing heat loss and heat gain and thereby lowering the heating and cooling requirements.

The windows and doors 11 are aluminum units set into the aluminum wall panel system 10. In the preferred embodiment, the aluminum wall panel system 10 is comprised of Alucobond® Exterior Finish. This product is composed of a high level of post-consumer recycled content and is easy to conform to both corners and curves.

The single-pitch roof is south facing in order to optimize solar collection. It is comprised of a membrane roofing system 12 on which is installed the thin-film photovoltaic array 14 and the solar water heating array 26 which cycles water through the hydronic storage tank 27.

FIG. 3 is the sectional view of the sleep/work module that illustrates the two solar systems. The first system is comprised of the thin-film photovoltaic array 14 that then stores power in the battery bank 19 (FIG. 4). The second system is comprised of the solar hydronic collections system 26 on the roof and on exterior of the south-facing walls. The hot water is then store in the hydronic storage tanks 27 and distributed to the in-floor radiant heat panels 29 (FIG. 2 and FIG. 6) as needed.

FIG. 4 illustrates an open floor plan for the sleep/work module and also illustrates the use of the SIPs 8 and the aluminum frame window and door units 11, the location of which can be altered to address multiple module or site design needs. In addition to construction features, the floor plan illustrates the placement of the module battery pack 19 in a wall unit.

FIG. 5 illustrates the exterior view of the sleep/work module with the roof-mounted thin-film photovoltaic array 14 and solar water heater array 26. Additionally, one sample wall is illustrated with the aluminum panel wall 10 and the aluminum frame windows 11. Over the windows are mounted the fixed auto-closing window shades 13 (FIG. 2 and FIG. 10). The shades are used to control heat gain through the windows when the wall is exposed to full sun. The shades are illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 10, and are discussed later in the description FIG. 18.

The water-use module, as illustrated in FIGS. 6, 7, and 8, has all the same attributes of the sleep/work module and then additionally has a domestic water storage system (FIG. 20) and the waste-water filtration system (FIG. 22). The domestic water storage tank 36 is filled by transported water, local surface water source, well, or local water main connection. The tank 36 is filled using an exterior water inlet station 35 and distributed to fixtures using a DC powered water pump 37 (FIG. 22). The fixtures, as in FIG. 8, are low-water use sinks (kitchen 39 and lavatory 40), showers 41, and toilets 42. Additionally, the kitchen in FIG. 8 utilizes DC appliances 24 and equipment 25 which are powered by a roof-top solar array and in-wall battery pack as configured in the sleep/work module.

The service bay, as illustrated in FIGS. 10, 11, and 12, is structurally composed of the same components as the sleep/work module, with the exception of the floor, which is composed of precast concrete slabs 6. Additionally, the service bays are equipped with folding SIP doors, either vertical or overhead, which are operated by a DC power motor. The hydronic heat tank 27 in the service bay is a buried structural tank with fill packed around it. For power, the service bay has thin-film photovoltaic array 14, battery storage pack 19 in FIG. 11 and FIG. 12. For heating, the service bay has a solar water heater array 26 and a hydronic storage tank 27. Heat is distributed using a baseboard radiant heat panel system 30.

The connector module, as illustrated in FIGS. 14, 15, 16, and 17, is constructed in the same method that was described for the other modules and includes a thin-film photovoltaic electrical system 14 and a solar hydronic collection system 26 on the roof, and hydronic storage tank 27.

The details of the auto-closing window shade 13 are illustrated in FIG. 18. Over windows 11 fixed within the SIP wall are insulated shades that are opened by means of an interior manual cranking system and are equipped to close on a shade-release timer. These insulated shading devices are provided on the south, east, and west sides of the structure. They are closed during times of full sun on a particular wall to reduce solar gain on exterior walls during the cooling season. During the heating season they are open to increase solar gain. During the transition seasons, the shades may be positioned as needed.

The solar power system, as illustrated in FIG. 19, is used in each module type and is a DC system. The power system begins with a roof-mounted photovoltaic array 14 as the collection system. Additionally, there is a wind generator 56 tied into the collection system. A lightning arrestor 15 is inserted in the system between the array and the combiner box 16 to halt and discharge any over-voltage atmospheric electrical charges. The combiner box 16 combines the various photovoltaic module strings and has a 15 amp breaker. From combiner box, the collected electrical charge goes to the DC disconnect 17 which serves as the master breaker box for turning off all incoming DC power. From the DC disconnect, the power connection is to the charge controller 18. The charge controller 18 can accept up to 100 volts incoming and regulates the charge of the batteries by outputting at a standard 48 V. Furthermore, the charge controller regulates the deep discharging and charging of the batteries, turning off all incoming power to the batteries when the battery bank 19 is fully charged and there is no draw down of power on the system. Once the battery bank is fully charged, excess power is distributed to the domestic water heating element 25 located in the domestic water storage tank 36. The battery bank 19 is typically installed in one of the module walls with eight or twelve batteries in a series, depending on the predetermined building needs. The output from the battery bank is at 48 V to the main control panel 20 which is the main distribution panel to DC equipment 25, appliances 24, and outlets 22.

The hydronic heating system in FIG. 20 circulates water throughout each module. Each module is equipped with a roof-mounted solar water heater array 26 from which hot water is circulated through a pump valve 28 where it is either directed to a storage tank 27, to the in-floor radiant heat panels 29, or the baseboard radiant heat panels 30. Additionally, the collected modules can use a heat pump 31 to draw ground water from a geo-exchange well 32 to circulate through the heating system. The water controlled by the heat pump also circulates through a pump valve 28 that either sends the water to the storage tank 27 or through the in-floor radiant heat panels 29 or the baseboard radiant heat panels 30.

For cooling, all the modules use the split-unit system illustrated in FIG. 21 wherein the modules have wall-mounted air handling units 34 with remote condensers 33 that remove heat from the interior air using closed-loop cooling coils. Additionally, the geo-exchange well, as seen in FIG. 20, can be used to draw the constant temperature water back into the radiant baseboard 30 and in-floor system 29 as part of the cooling system.

Potable water storage and distribution, FIG. 22, is applicable to the water-use module. The system begins with a water inlet valve 35 that is used when the water reaches the site. The inlet valve 35 provides external access to fill the water storage tank 36. A water pump 36 then distributes water to the low-water use appliances 38, including kitchen sinks, lavatories, showers, and toilets.

Wastewater is then collected into the wastewater filtration system as illustrated in FIG. 23. Wastewater from the low water use kitchen sink 39, lavatory 40, and shower 41, are routed through the drain lines 43 to the gray water storage tank 45. All collected wastewater, including from the toilet, is processed by a filtration and reclaiming unit 44 for distribution to the irrigation system 47 or to a septic system 48 depending on local conditions.

The fire suppression system in all modules, as illustrated in FIG. 24, is controlled by a low-voltage fire alarm control system 53. When the system is triggered, the misting heads 54 are fed water by a DC pump 51 that draws water from the hydronic water storage tank 27, In the case of the water-use module, water is also drawn from the domestic water storage tank 36. The flow of water from the hydronic tank 27 into the fire suppression system is controlled by the hydronic water control valve 50. The flow of water from the domestic water tank 36 into the fire suppression system is controlled by the domestic water control valve 49.