Building Systems and Science

The cornerstone of one of SBA’s building systems is the use of recycled Intermodal Steel Building Units (“ISBU”) containers to create structures and exterior shells. Core to this solution is an inordinately strong, exceedingly functional, and extraordinarily cost-effective building module. From shipping containers, SBA designs, builds and markets aesthetically superior homes, businesses, social infrastructure and disaster relief units guided by:

  • Unique, customizable designs that are resource efficient and self-sustaining;
  • Dramatically reduced energy consumption using emerging and proven systems;
  • Use of recycled and/or new and innovative materials that are highly resistant to natural and human forces;
  • Economical to build and assemble, as well as capable of disassembly and portability; and aesthetically comfortable and exceedingly livable.

Among other building materials, SBAuses shipping container building. There are many advantages to building with shipping containers, a few of these

  • Strength: A 40′ container is internationally engineered to weigh about 9,000 lbs, carry nearly 67,000 lbs of cargo and to be able to withstand 8 containers, all fully loaded, stacked on top of it.
  • Reuse: Millions of containers go unused around the world, they stack up at ports and become an environmental nuisance taking up valuable wetlands space. Building from containers reuses a waste stream resource and decreases the need for virgin materials.
  • Speed of build: Structures arrive and are set quickly creating a dried-in condition within hours.
  • Energy efficiency: If properly designed, the inherent qualities of the shipping container can contribute to passive energy efficiency, saving on heating and cooling costs.


While SBA uses shipping containers in many of their buildings, SBA are also in the research and development phase for other sustainable building materials. In particular, SBA also works with mortarless interlocking blocks as well as steel frame construction when these solutions are appropriate.

The mortarless interlocking block is a modular system, which is dry, stacked in running bond without mortar and then filled with grout to provide a finished wall, which can be laid up to ten times faster than conventional block by skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled laborers.

The advantage of the mortarless block system is its simplicity, flexibility and attractiveness. There are only two blocks: the combination stretcher corner-end block, and the half block. The half and combination blocks produce finished ends, pilasters and corners. The half block is also used to produce a lintel for door and window openings.

The mortarless block differs from conventional block in that it is not necessary to use mortar between blocks or between courses. Interlocking nubs position each block in relationship to those around it and each block is manufactured to a constant height to maintain the level and plumb of the finished wall.

Steel frame construction offers many advantages over traditional reinforced concrete with lower costs, sustainability and flexibility being amongst the many benefits of choosing steel framed buildings over the alternatives.


The steel framing system is an ideal framing system for virtually every country, climate and economy. A light gauge steel-framing package can be easily erected on almost any foundation system, including slab on grade or raised. Steel framing is an ideal alternative to traditional framing methods such as wood, concrete adobe or brick. Not only are light gauge steel framing materials far more economical than other construction materials, there is far less waste and the structure can be built in much less time, even with semi-skilled labor.

Some of the advantages of a steel frame building system include:

  • Better, faster and no waste – Mobile and stationary roll-forming machines produce basic stud walls and trusses. The studs are punched and dimpled acting as placement clips and screws are placed in the holes. The roll-forming machine offers an efficient, economical system for steel framing and a better way to build metal stud walls.
  • Wind and earthquake resistant – Engineered to a seismic 4 rating, all framing components feature positive connections feature that provide seismic and wind protection. The steel framing system is engineered for wind exposure C, per Uniform Building Code and is designed to withstand winds from 90 – 119 – 155 mile per hour (144 – 176 – 229 kilometers per hour), depending upon the region and design.
  • The strength of steel – Designed to satisfy building requirements for almost any area, the steel framing system is wind, earthquake, corrosion, termite and dry rot resistant, and does not add consumables to fire. A stronger structure, straighter walls and flexible floor plans are a result of the system. In addition, the roof truss system is far more rigid and durable during shipping and installation than a wood truss system for easy top chord connection.
  • Durable and easy to assemble – The steel frame system is galvanized (zinc coated) for maximum corrosion resistance. Framing members may be precision cut at the factory for easy assembly or roll formed on site. Assembly is quick and easy, using electric screw guns. If cutting in the field is required, an electric saw is all that is needed.
  • Precision engineered – A wide variety of standard floor plans, starting from 36 square meters, to 59.5 square meters, and expanding up to 118.9 square meters are available. The system is easily adapted for practically any custom size, dimension or shae. With this system, customers can get ultimate flexibility and economy with a wide variety of floor plans, including single, split and two level configurations.