Ever since I was a little kid I’ve seen movies in which these huge boats were stacked 10 shipping containers high. What happens to these shipping containers after they have seen their 10 years of shipping products? All too often they spend the rest of their time in shipping container graveyards where they sit unused in stacks of blue and orange just like a child’s container of Legos.It is only within the past 10 years or so that people have started to recycle these giant 8000 pound boxes into livable homes. This idea is out there and many people around the world have ran with it. The freedom and economic benefit allows for all types of shipping container homes. We have little houses in the woods used for hunting or weekend getaway spots, huge apartment complexes, Starbucks, Taco Bell, but most commonly houses for the average American household.
There is a large ecological benefit to recycling these 40 foot boxes of steel as the framing of houses. The average 2,400 square foot house requires about 16,000 board feet of lumber and over 14,000 square feet of other wood products. For those of you that don’t know what a board foot is, it is a piece of lumber one-inch thick, one foot wide, and one foot long. This is equivalent to approximately four logging trucks full of wood, about 28 trees, to build one house, and that isn’t even considering the other 14,000 feet of other wood products. Some of these shipping containers are built using 85% recycled or eco -friendly materials. A natural way of insulating the ceilings of these houses is to incorporate a living-garden which also ends up filtering rainwater so that it may be used for other purposes. There are other ways to efficiently insulate these metal tins and if you do it right you can reflect about 95% of outside radiation, and resist the loss of interior heat which lowers heating cost and decreases dependency on coal and other fossil fuels.
I know that some of these concepts seem expensive. However, it is actually the opposite; a fairly large sized home can be constructed out of three 40’ x 8’ x 9’ storage containers. In fact, the eco-friendly designs of a 2,400 square foot house can be constructed between $150,000 and $175,000, which is 20% cheaper than an average house of the same quality. To reiterate, these houses create a permanent home for the shipping crates instead of rusting in some lot near the coast, and work towards keeping trees in the ground. So next time you think of how you can Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, don’t forget about where you call home.
Written by Colton Lowry, ESLLC 2015-2016