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A prototype project to reuse plastic water bottles to form a thatch roof -- to help people to create shelter from discarded materials.

This Kickstarter project will fund the construction of our first FULL SCALE MOCK-UP in Old Westbury, NY!

The prototype bottle-shelter mock-up we aim to build with this campaign. It is curved to test water run-off at every angle.
The prototype bottle-shelter mock-up we aim to build with this campaign. It is curved to test water run-off at every angle.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

We have already designed the SodaBIB (Soda-Bottle Interface Bracket) plastic shipping pallet. It disassembles into brackets that anyone can use as structure to build roofs.

Breaking apart a SodaBIB Shipping Pallet into roofing purlins.

The little 5'-0" x 5'-0" prototype roofs we made last year work great, but it's time to build a real roof -- the size of a garden shed -- to test THE WHOLE SYSTEM! With these funds, we will achieve the following with this mock-up:

  • First, we'll construct (5) five full SodaBIB Pallets. They will be used with real fork-lifts to lift real loads of water bottles -- to demonstrate compliance with international shipping specifications.
  • Then, we'll film how we can break apart the pallets with almost no tools -- which is the way to combine them with used water bottles to make a roof!  
  • Next, we'll build a barrel-vault shaped roof structure out of typical lumber. The curve (barrel vault) will help us test the roofing system on every possible sloped roof!
  • Then, we'll assemble the whole roof -- pallet pieces and spent bottles -- to demonstrate that anyone can build one of these roofs with no power tools! These roofs are intended for developing countries and disaster areas, so it's important to us that this prototype roof be made with few industrial resources.
  • Finally, we'll show the world! All the above steps will be filmed, and spliced into a documentary-style movie. The whole structure is modular, and intended to be disassembled and reassembled elsewhere. We are researching ways to reach the public by re-consrtucting it in NYC-area sculpture parks, local farmer's markets, and possibly Grand Central Station!
An early mock-up of the SodaBIB pallet deck.
An early mock-up of the SodaBIB pallet deck.

This Kickstarter project will build a roof. But more importantly, it will be the first full-scale proof-of-concept model to show the world better ways of designing reusable consumer goods. We believe that "disposables" like bottles and pallets should be able to serve many life-spans (bottles-->roof or pallet-->lumber), and this is just the next step in illustrating how this philosophy can work.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The mock-up design and construction will be organized by three NYIT full-time professors, two of whom are licensed to practice architecture in New York State. The project aims to engage a New York State engineer to finalize the technical aspects of mass-producing the design.

The mock-up is designed to test life-cycle and performance of both components of the product. The first phase will test the pallet in its original use, for shipping. The second phase will test pallet disassembly, and re-use as a roof membrane with water bottles.

PHASES

This project will continue in three phases. Funding is sought to realize the first two.

PHASE 1 - Create five prototype SodaBIB shipping pallets. Using laser cutters on the NYIT campus, paid student-workers will template, cut, and assemble five SodaBIB shipping pallets. These pallets will be tested in real-world scenarios, and used with forklifts to lift hundreds of pounds of water bottles.



PHASE 2 - Create a full-scale SodaBIB roof, made completely of PHASE 1 pallets and recycled bottles. The roofing purlins will be harvested from the pallets in PHASE 1, and students will assemble the roof by duplicating existing conditions in developing countries or relief areas.

The steps of building our mock-up roof. Foundations, structure, substructure, and purlin attachment.
The steps of building our mock-up roof. Foundations, structure, substructure, and purlin attachment.


The roof is designed to test many variables. Foremost, it will be a form of barrel vault so that we can test how water bottles perform at a variety of angles. Further, we will arrange them at varying overlaps to test for minimum required overlap. Just as importantly, we will test the roof for solar performance, record wind performance, and measure light permeation through various colored bottles arranged in tiled patterns.


PHASE 3 - To finalize designs with beverage suppliers and pallet manufacturing companies, making the SodaBIB pallet a reality. This requires technical-level collaboration with engineers, materials specialists, and industrial designers on the creation of a steel mold for mass production. [The BIB mold will be milled from hardened steel, and the BIBs will be pressed from High Density Polyethylene].


WHY DOES THE WORLD NEED THIS!?

Simple: Millions need better shelter. We all need a better way to deal with water bottles. This project helps solve both problems!

For better or worse, water bottles are being shipped all over the world, used once, and being discarded. In relief areas, and developing countries, we can help people make shelter from these materials!

The secret to this system is that it redesigns the pallets that corporations use to ship beverage bottles. We have designed a pallet that people can dis-assemble without tools, and use as a roofing sub-structure! Anyone can attach used bottles to it by pinching the cap -- no nails, screws, or glue!

This system is easy: even children can assemble this roof with very little instruction.

This system is universal: no special tools or construction skills are required because the pallet ships with the bottles it needs!

This system defeats bureaucracy: corporations can lazily adopt environmentalism with this purchasing decision -- and donate used pallets as a tax write-off.

As a result, we can help make thatch roofs all over the world -- in both disaster relief areas and developing countries

Example existing pallets -- that cannot be reused to create shelter.
Example existing pallets -- that cannot be reused to create shelter.

SPECIFIC DETAILS - LOTS OF DETAILS

The SodaBIB is designed as part of a beverage specific, international shipping pallet made from recycled resin (plastic). The SodaBIB shipping pallet de-laminates into four, 40” by 48” sheets, each of which break into (12) 4'-0" purlins (horizontal supports) with integral Bottle Interface Brackets. Each purlin has a row of holes that overlap the water bottles that relief agencies most often sent to subtropical and tropical disaster areas.

Testing the diameter of early mock-ups. The system works with almost any bottle type!
Testing the diameter of early mock-ups. The system works with almost any bottle type!

The SodaBIB System addresses our excessive waste by enabling anyone to make useful building materials from two types of plastic: blow-molded PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and resin, thereby directing this waste away from landfills and oceans.

GOOD ROOFS ARE BRIGHT, SAFE, & THERMALLY HELPFUL

SodaBIB encourages craft, up-cycling, and participatory architecture. These roofs promote a cool interior with natural ventilation and light. Plastic water bottles absorb heat when empty but do not radiate heat like corrugated metal roofs. SodaBIB up-cycles the design intelligence of both bottle and cap. The bottle shape introduces gaps between layers for natural ventilation; the cap threading secureds bottles to the BIBs. To counter the greenhouse effect, SodaBIB roofs can be splashed with white paint or infilled with reflective material. SodaBIB roofs need no tools to assemble, are light, repairable, and beautiful.

WHERE SODABIB ROOFS ARE NEEDED

SodaBIB roofs are designed for use in tropical climates, where they passively can cool the buildings they cover. The roofs are designed to overlap bottles enough to protect even from driving rain, but be perforated enough to let hot air escape across the entire roof membrane.

One can see a host of potential sites for SodaBIB roofs in tropical landscapes. From a relief point of view, consider the types of natural disasters that occur in the tropics (earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tropical storms). Every place people will need emergency water, they'll need shelter too. 

WHERE TO BUILD - AND WHY THERE?

The full scale SodaBIB shelter will be constructed initially in a publicly accessible, highly visible parking lot at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)’s Old Westbury campus in Nassau County, Long Island. Other exhibition venues in the New York metropolitan area will be sought during the display and testing of this mock up. NYIT will seek external media coverage for the project with local (and national) news outlets (and bloggers), issue news releases, and pitch the story to reporters who cover architecture, sustainability, etc. News releases tracking the project’s progress and updating the NYIT community will be posted on the NYIT website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts as well as the NYIT Alumni Magazine.

Building projects are common at NYIT's Old Westbury campus -- the institute's last two Solar Decathlon Houses were recently built there.
Building projects are common at NYIT's Old Westbury campus -- the institute's last two Solar Decathlon Houses were recently built there.

NYIT promotes green technology in various educational areas. NYIT students presented the SodaBIB idea at the 2012 New York State Business Plan Competition. (NYIT funded their travel and housing, and they won a judge’s choice award for this work.) Also, the SodaBIB Project was featured in the  NYIT 2012 Energy Conference - where Professor Van Nest presented on the “Shelter Panel”. These are just two ways NYIT is helping build audience appreciation and understanding of this work


SODABIB'S GUIDING PHILOSOPHY:

The SodaBIB project is about making products with multiple life-spans. We take to heart the command REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE; in an ideal world, nothing should end up in the recycle bin because our products are so well designed, that we’re constantly putting them to better use -- not sorting them into bins. We should be recycling as a last resort -- especially because our recycling programs are so ineffective!

Bottling companies create 2,680,000 tons of non-biodegradable PET bottles each year, of which only 27% are recovered. As much as we try to recycle, Plastic is in our oceans, in our drinking water, in our food and in us. Recycling efforts are stymied by the array of different plastics. SodaBIB permeates one stream of plastic products, making PET valuable and visible so as to enhance recycling efforts and to call attention to the problem

This reinforces a larger issue: that the producers of single-use products should be held accountable for the life cycle of their products. Soda BIB creates multiple markets for two types of non-biodegradable product, creating what Samantha MacBride calls a “fine grained channel of diversion” for these modern wastes, targeting its “heterogeneity and potential toxicity” . SodaBIB is designed so as to “enable the construction of (social and physical) infrastructure” ….” to promote extended producer responsibility” for their product. (Recycling Reconsidered (Urban and Industrial Environments) - ISBN: 0262016001)

WHAT'S SO COOL ABOUT THE SODABIB PROJECT REWARDS

Our project's guiding philosophy helped u DESIGN our rewards. We recognize that this project will generate a lot of scrap material -- material that we don't merely want to recycle, but upcycle.

All the jewelry you see in the rewards section is designed to reuse extras form our construction process! An observant viewer will see the shapes that make these pieces are the cut-aways from our prototype pallet! Each piece is designed with the love and care that can turn any material into a work of art.

We look forward to sharing these jewelry pieces with our friends -- both as a way to help others literally OWN a piece of this important project, and as a symbol of reuse and conservation that marks ecologically sensitive consumer.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

There are several challenges to overcome in order to get this system to market.

First, we find the shipping pallet design and manufacture industry a secretive one. In our research, our team has tried to get factory tours several times, only to be politely rebuffed by existing manufacturers.

In order to convince manufacturers to change the design of these pallets, we really have to show them what's possible. To change minds in this risk-averse, $15B industry, we want to tour representative through the building this project produces, AND show them that the roof was made completely without hand-tools. We also have to show them that the SodaBIB pallet preforms to all their industry specification -- lifting, durability, and wash-ability requirements that are quite strict.

Second, the design of this building really must demonstrate many different deployments of the SodaBIB system. The roof will be curved to show the complete range of slopes that the system drains, but we will also strive to make it out of a variety of structural materials -- disaster zones may have scrap lumber, bamboo, metal, or other materials. We have to show that this roof can sit on anything.

This project is one step in a greater effort to change minds about how we consume resources. As with all such efforts clever steps and demonstration models do a lot more to convince minds than preaching. This is one such effort.

FAQ

  • We have spoken to aid workers who work in tropical climates. Especially people who have recently volunteered in Haiti. They have faith that the plastic will hold up, because so many discarded plastic bottles are not being cleared from streets and abandoned areas -- for years. Further, there are plastic-bottle projects like ours that have lasted down there for years.

    Our contacts have raise a different concern. In places where resources are scarce, theft is common. By creating commodities out of discarded bottles, they believe such roofs may simply be brazenly stolen. They see scenarios where someone leaves for a day trip, and returns to a roofless home. We're still working on a way to prevent this through better design.

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  • Our roof is designed to combat several shortcomings in current those currently used in developing countries.

    Today, many of our target area's homes are made from corrugated metal roofs. [1] These get oppressively hot from solar radiation (forcing inhabitants to sleep outside.) [2] They block all natural light (creating dark, unhygienic homes). [3] They are dangerous in storms (since they are hard to secure without a Home Depot nearby, the metal becomes wind-driven projectiles in storms).

    Our roofing solution functions essentially like a thatched roof. (Think Gilligan's Island). The overlapping bottles let hot air indirectly leak out, while still blocking the rain. It lets tons of light in -- but constructors can still fill bottles with paper, foil, or paint to block as much sun light as they need. It can be easily dis-assembled before a storm, or is not dangerous if destroyed in high winds.

    In short, our roofs are better because they are healthier, safer, and less expensive (they're made from free materials!).

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  • Yes. People in developing countries have access to all kinds of refuse, including discarded bottles. To most dietician's dismay, soda is a product found in every country on earth.

    What most countries don't have are recycling programs.

    Most important to the success of this system is that it interface with ALL kinds of bottle products. We cannot predict what bottles will happen to collect in various areas. So far, we have a system that interfaces with all Coke/Pepsi products, and a different one for Poland Springs products (different threading diameter.)

    Perhaps best, we aim to partner with relief organizations that receive bottled water donations by the pallet-full. This way our pallets can go WITH the bottles to relief areas around the globe.

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  • Our research finds that the plastic (specifically PET) will survive natural tropical temperatures, but not the kind of temperatures associated with a fire. PET's melting point is about 250-260 ºC. As a result, melting and off-gassing is not a concern for daily use.

    (But UV damage does make plastic more brittle over moths of exposure.)

    A side project goal is to construct another, smaller prototype with scraps -- to be placed on the NYIT Manhattan building's tar roof next summer. This mock-up will is designed demonstrate all these principles next summer -- it gets to about 140 ºF up there...

    Last updated:
  • This kind of damage to plastic is called light degradation. Generally, it's the UV portion of sunlight that most damages (PET) beverage bottles. The damage yellows the plastic, causes it to cloud, and makes it brittle.

    The first two forms of damage are no reason to worry for us. In developing countries where electricity is scarce, a yellowing -- but still light-filled -- roof is much better for folks than any opaque metal ones. Also, if the roof bottles become cloudy, that's ok too, because it will make light that comes through diffuse and general.

    How soon bottles become UV-brittled depends on how thick the bottle is made. We all know contractors that use those white 5-gallon plastic drums that seem to last forever. They have (1.5+ mm) thick walls that are very durable. But at the scale of our project, Coke and Pepsi bottles are very thick (.635 mm), while Poland Springs "Eco Friendly" [sic.] bottles are almost half the thickness(.39mm). Still, all these bottles will last YEARS in sunlight, before growing too brittle to use -- it will take DECADES for our roofs to break because of brittleness.

    Generally, this is what makes plastic water bottles so dangerous for the environment. They take 500-1000 years to biodegrade, and some current studies suggest PET doesn't really break down. It just breaks into smaller and smaller bits...

    Last updated:
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    You're an Awesome Person; we appreciate your help. And to show our gratitude, you'll be listed on the SodaBIB.org web site list-of-donors as an "Awesome Person" (if you want).

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    You're a Really Awesome Person. We appreciate that a lot. For that, you'll be listed on the SodaBIB.org web site list-of-donors as an "Really Awesome Person" (if you want).

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    You're a Catalyst-Level Donor. Not only will your donation be listed on the SodaBIB.org web site (if you want), but you'll get a personally-designed, project-themed postcard in your mailbox, signed with gratitude from our team. Frame it for display in your business or home!

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    Donate $50 and we'll send you a one-of-a-kind custom-designed unisex lapel pin -- upcycled from the extra materials in our prototyping process. You will own a piece of the project! The pin features our very own SodaBIB Shelter Logo: an abstract pattern of bottles within a house. Of course, your donation will also be cited on SodaBIB.org's list-of-donors.

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    Donate $51 and we'll send you a set of modern stud earrings. They feature the cylinders that result from cutting holes to make our reward keychains, and they fit PERFECTLY on classic stud mounts. Of course, your donation will also be cited on SodaBIB.org's list-of-donors.

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    Donate $52 and we'll send you a set of custom SodaBIB sparking hanging earrings. We composed these earrings from the surplus plastic pallet piece that sparkle most in the light! These earring help you own an even bigger piece of our project, and offer a classic one-of-a-kind design. Of course, your donation will also be cited on SodaBIB.org's list-of-donors.

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    Donate $53 and we'll send you a keychain -- also upcycled from our production process. This irregular shape features our very own SodaBIB Shelter Logo: an abstract pattern of bottles within a house. Of course, your donation will also be cited on SodaBIB.org's list-of-donors.

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    Donate $60 and we'll send you a custom SodaBIB pendant -- designed to upcycle the clearest pieces of our pallet production surplus. This pendant coordinates well with our hanging earrings! And reused bottle fragments are used as spacers between plastic pallet pieces to create visual interest and catch the light! Of course, your donation will also be cited on SodaBIB.org's list-of-donors.

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    You're a Gold Member UpCycler. Thanks! That's kinda really mind-blowing for us. Just like Silver-level Donors, you'll be a direct part of up-cycling in our fabrication process. When we laser-cut our first few pallets, there will be tons of those extra pieces -- precision-cut circles and other voids. We'll send you a custom-designed *necklace* assembled from those extras so that no material goes unused. The pieces form our project's shelter-oriented logo, which you can see on our page. Of course, your donation will also be cited on SodaBIB.org's list-of-donors (if you want).

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    You're a Platinum Member UpCycler. Wow! That would really make our week. This is the kind of generosity that we go home and immediately tell our families about. Just like Silvers Donors, you'll be a direct part of up-cycling in our fabrication process. When we laser-cut our first few pallets, there will be tons of those extra pieces -- precision-cut circles and other voids. We'll send you a custom-designed *necklace* assembled from those extras so that no material goes unused. The pieces form our project's shelter-oriented logo, which you can see on our page. Of course, your donation will also be cited on SodaBIB.org's list-of-donors (if you want).

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    You're a Visionary-Level Donor. It's just amazing to know there's people like you in the world -- and you can generously support a conviction that architecture can make the world a better place. Just. Wow. You'll receive pretty much all of the above, and a BOOK! That's right, we're making a not-found-in-bookstores, limited edition book about designing a building the prototype. You'll get your very own copy. Like above, you'll join us in up-cycling the fabrication extras by receiving a one-of-a-kind key chain and necklace. You'll also receive a postcard of gratitude -- with a personal message from the project organizers.

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    You're an Angel-Level Donor. This transcends words. Thank you. As a token of our gratitude, we'll send all of the above -- the special commemorative book, the up-cycled key chain and necklace, and the postcard. Also, we want to immortalize your generosity in the book, with a few special words about your support. We'll send details for you to approve as you see fit.

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    You're a Muse. Seriously, you inspire us. At this level, we are able to share something really special with you. Consistent with our up-cycling philosophy, one of the project organizers has realized New York City's FIRST home built entirely from shipping containers. It will be our pleasure to organize a special Muse-level architectural tour of this ground-breaking, five-level home, and to share some of the secrets of how it can help solve shelter problems for decades to come. We'll suspend the normal tours -- people pay big bucks to see it. Of course, all of the above is headed your way, too.

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    You're a Golden Muse. This simply rocks our world. We'll need a few days to recover. Of course, everything above is headed your way -- the tour, book, jewelry, etc -- and a special dinner will be held in your honor in New York City's first Shipping Container home. Bring your friends! We want a chance to toast your awesomeness!

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    You're an Ultimate Muse. You're amazing. At this level of generosity, we'll arrange for a one-week stay in the ground-level studio apartment of New York City's first and one Shipping Container House. Details to be arranged after the campaign concludes.

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Funding period

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