Green building blocks for grown-ups

Building with freight containers – A common phrase overheard by children using building blocks to create toy structures is, “I wish I could have a house like this for real!” Shipping container construction allows grown-up architects, contractors, and construction workers do just that – create full-sized buildings with a type of green building blocks. The rectangular shape of shipping containers allows architects to stack them in a variety of ways, much like when children pile building blocks together. Unlike toy blocks, houses built with freight containers aren’t easily knocked down. Housing designers can alternate reusable shipping containers of varying lengths, turn them perpendicular to one another, stack them one on top the other, or stand them on end to offer an endless array of architectural plans that are more trendy, more sturdy, and cost less than traditional, stick-built homes.

Shipping container construction is a popular way to build low-cost housing through the use of recycling discarded steel cargo boxes. Finding adequate, reusable shipping containers is as easy as taking a trip to the local port or other shipping facility, or taking the time to peruse listings of government, farm, and online auctions. Some prefab manufacturers offer pre-insulated shipping containers. When containers are pre-insulated, it saves buyers several hundred dollars in the cost to buy ceramic insulation and the time to have a certified professional apply it to the container’s steel walls. Insulation tops the list of shipping container housing benefits, because a house built with freight containers that is insulated properly requires less energy to heat in the winter and cool in the summer.

Shipping containers housing benefits

Shipping container housing benefits are nearly endless. The process of building one of these eco-friendly homes goes from initial groundbreaking to fully livable dwelling in less time than traditional stick-built structures. The ceramic used for insulated shipping containers bonds easily to the metal walls and ceilings. This type of insulation is also non-toxic; it takes up less space than normal insulation; and it is non-polluting. Reusable shipping containers are the perfect material for underground dwellings; as their steel ally exteriors are naturally resistant to rust, mold, and mildew that plague traditional earth-berm homes. The non-corrosive steel makes shipping container construction some of the strongest buildings on earth, exceeding building codes across the country, and standing up to fire, earthquakes, and hurricanes.

Americans are sorely behind other areas of the world in the business of shipping container construction. Countries like South Korea adopted the practice of recycling steel cargo boxes years ago. Reusable shipping containers are a boon in areas abroad where building materials are less available to the general public. Compared to a grass hut, pitiful tent, or a miserable lean-to shelter, even insulated shipping containers used for refrigeration seem like a five-star resort despite the fact that they are slightly smaller than their dry box counterparts.