SIP Sustainable House Thermal CA

Location: Thermal, CA

Project Information

Project Type: Residential, < 3,000 sq. ft.
Manufacturer: Premier Building Systems
Builder: SW Concepts in Partnership with Pueblo Unido CDC
Design Professional: South West Concepts
Year Built: 2023


High Performance: No
HERS/EUI Index Score:
ACH50 - Blower Test Results:
CO2 lbs./sq.ft./year:

Awards/Certifications: Building Excellence Awards

BEA: 2024 Building Excellence Award - Classic Runner Up

Building use: 
This was the first of many residences in this new and innovative project which addresses the urgent need for affordable housing for agricultural and low-income families in the Coachella Valley. Polanco families provide the essential labor force that generates over $500 million in agriculture sustaining our food system. Despite this contribution they are the largest disfranchised population if Riverside County lacking basic infrastructure and affordable housing opportunities.

While strong family networks, entrepreneurial expertise and a tremendous work ethic sustain the Polanco Parks, these farmworker communities lack financial and technical assistance to address applicable code violations and replace/repair substandard mobile homes. In 2015, the California Endowment released Affordable Housing in the Eastern Coachella Valley: Charting the Way Forward and a second report, Improving the Housing Conditions in the Eastern Coachella Valley. This model of housing addresses the need for sustainable, safe, resilient and affordable living for Southern California's Desert Valley.

How did SIP construction help you get this job?
Sustainability is key. Housing must be affordable to construct to meet California's stringent Title 24 code, and deliver deep operational savings for the long run. SIPS provide both needs, making code approved housing construction fast, and affordable, while allowing low income families to afford a new home because of lower energy/operating costs.

In addition to this 3 bedroom prototype residents can choose from a 1 and 2 bedroom option.

SIP wall thickness and core material: 6” EPS
SIP roof thickness and core material: 12” EPS

Describe the benefits of using SIPs on this project. Did SIPs help save time, labor, construction costs, or energy?
Optimized prototypes to take advantage of SIPS benefits, such as large panels (24'), long spans in roof lines for larger ceiling heights (giving the perception of larger spaces) and prefabrication of wall and roof panels delivered to the development area. Which allows the hardworking farming residents to easily construct these structures with minimal skilled labor - in record time. Which is particularly of advantage in the hot cochella valley (Palm Springs Area) where temperatures are over 100 degrees more than half of the year.

Please list any certifications the project received, such as ENERGY STAR, LEED, National Green Building Standard, WELL, Passive House, Green Globes or local green building programs:
Achieved Title 24 requirements - Energy Consult LLC Igor Pichko 424-247-7658.

Please list any energy-efficient products or design features, such as lighting, hot water heating, appliances, passive solar:
On demand hot water

Were any solar panels installed on the project? If so, indicate the size of the system:
Yes, not provided at time of application.

Please list any sustainable materials or design features not listed above, such as recycled materials, low-VOC finishes, landscaping, etc.
All low VOC finishes, low water need vegetation, solar ready/solar installed.

Any additional comments on the project:
Rural Habitat Housing Project: This was the first of many residences in this new and innovative project which addresses the urgent need for affordable housing for agricultural and low-income families in the Coachella Valley. Due to a lack of options, many of these families live in substandard conditions with limited access to essential services like healthcare and transportation. The Rural Habitat Housing Project is a new affordable housing concept currently under design aimed to provide alternative cost-effective, and energy efficient farmworker housing in the eastern Coachella Valley. Rural Habitat is Pueblo Unido CDC’s community driven core philosophy and catalyst in bringing partnerships and collaborative efforts for innovative ideas centered around provision of housing that are both flexible and sustainable. PUCDC has been able to utilize its community base to promote and strengthen collaborative efforts in achieving this feat.

The organization: Pueblo Unido Community Development Corporation (PUCDC) is a (501) (C) (3) tax-exempt non-profit organization born from the initiative of community leaders with extensive experience and knowledge of local issues and concerns in rural areas of the Coachella Valley.

The Eastern Coachella Valley is comprised of four unincorporated rural communities: Thermal, Oasis, Mecca and North Shore. The large majority of residents are agricultural worker families and they represent the local labor force that contributes approximately 430 million dollars a year in agriculture to the region. Farm workers constitute the backbone of our national food system sustainability. But despite their remarkable contribution, these hard working communities live in pervasive poverty with challenging water and wastewater conditions and few economic opportunities. A glaring deficiency of farm worker housing, lack of critical infrastructure, and community economic development opportunities continues to plague the local communities whose residents work the fields. In our judgment, this is attributed to inadequate community organizing, training and education, and collaboration with public agencies.


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