Off-Grid Shipping Container Cabin

By: Craig Stephens (York Sustainable Enterprise Consultants)

In recent years there seems to be a growing buzz around the concept of sustainable living, and largely sustainable housing. From the tiny house movement, to net zero or zero carbon homes, and retired shipping container homes, there are many interesting and beautiful ways to live both sustainably and comfortably in Canada.

The Rioux family has made it their mission to construct an off-grid cabin built mainly out of retired shipping containers in order to lower their negative impact on the world. The “Octopod” a name largely inspired by the couples 4 year old daughter, is a unique hub and spoke design structure, with a large central octagon room and 7 radiating containers serving different purposes including: kitchen, dining room, 2 bed rooms, storage room, washroom, and sauna. The 8th side was left open so that they could build a deck facing their waterfront.

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The building was constructed with the cooler Canadian climate in mind and features 3 wood burning stoves (one as the main heat source, one in the kitchen for cooking, and one in the sauna), in floor thermal heating, a 1 Kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, battery storage as well as an elevated water tower system, direct current (DC) wiring for LED lighting, refrigeration and air circulation fans, and a cool roof system – all of which meets Ontario’s building code requirements.

Utilizing solar power, energy storage, and a wood furnace, their cabin is completely off-grid and independent of all municipal services (and utility bills), something most people only dream about. The Octopod is the evidence necessary to prove that it is possible to live comfortably off the grid, and locally within Ontario.

Using retired shipping containers is a great way of recycling an otherwise large and obtrusive item that has reached the end of its primary-use life. The containers are made of steel that is corrugated in order to give it extra strength, which makes them perfect for secondary uses. At the end of their “shipping” life, they can be repurposed as small structures such as shops, homes, sheds and other buildings since they are very strong, lockable, durable, and stackable – somewhat like Lego pieces.

The Octopod is a great example of how with some creativity and ingenuity Ontarians can live sustainably and comfortably all the while being completely off-grid.

The Octopod can be found near Bobcaygeon Ontario, and will be the site for a Green Energy Doors Open event this year (2016) on September 10-11 from 9:00am-2:00pm showcasing the buildings’ design as well as the energy efficiency techniques that have been implemented.

More information on the GEDO event can be found here: //

And more information on the Octopod can be found here:

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