For many years the humble shipping container was considered nothing more useful than being a metal box to either transport goods in a safe and secure manner, or a robust place to store things. Times have changed a lot over the past few decades and so have peoples’ views on the varied uses and applications of shipping containers. In fact, containers are so versatile that they are used for so many different things, such as portable toilet blocks, roadside kitchens, mobile cafes, office space and so much more.
One key area where shipping containers have been put to positive use is in the home building industry. Around Australia and the world, millions of homes have been either partially or fully constructed out of new or used cargo containers. This is a trend that is increasing daily.
Another thing that’s firmly focused on in the modern world when it comes to construction is sustainability and being kinder to the environment. Are shipping containers a good choice when it comes to this very important aspect of home construction? Can they really help to reduce the carbon footprint we have on the planet?
The answer is yes, and we’ll look at some of the key reasons why in this article, and it’s these reasons that have put shipping containers high up the list when it comes to modern building materials and sustainability.
Shipping Container Homes Rescue Millions Of Containers From Landfill
While there are multiple millions of shipping containers across the globe being used for many and varied purposes on a daily basis, millions of used shipping containers are also discarded globally every year. Without repurposing these abandoned containers, they would simply end up as useless junk, rusting away somewhere and littering the planet.
It would be an absolute shame for so much good steel to go to waste. It’s also not something that’s kind to the environment if these containers are left in ports, industrial sites and cluttering up landfill.
Containers are massive items and it’s simply not cost-effective to melt them down so the steel can be fashioned into other materials. The better way is to make use of the inherent properties of the shipping container and use its structure for positive purposes. This is the most eco-friendly solution overall.
Shipping Container Homes Help the Environment Through Smart Recycling
While shipping containers come in some custom sizes, the three main standard sizes are:
Rather than attempting to recycle the metal in small bits and pieces, it’s far better to put the container’s structure to good use. Melting down steel or trying to create scrap metal out of shipping containers uses a lot of energy and can cost a lot of money.
A wiser choice is remodelling an existing container, using it’s basic shape and robust build, to construct another building or structure. When homes are built from shipping containers, this practice is really doing the environment a major favour on several levels. Some of the world’s most sustainable homes are predominantly built using shipping containers.
The Downsizing Trend Has Led To More Container Homes
Many people across the globe have caught onto the downsizing trend and the many benefits associated with living in smaller or tiny homes. One of the greatest benefits is cost. These homes are much cheaper to buy or build, and take far less maintenance to look after.
As tiny homes obviously don’t need to be big, this has seen a major upsurge in new or used shipping containers being employed as the major building material. People can build a very functional and comfortable tiny home out of one 20 foot shipping container. Cargo containers offer the perfect building solution for the home downsizing market.
When containers are repurposed for home building, far less man-made resources are being consumed during the building process. Instead, recycled material makes up the bulk of the overall construction. This spells great news for our planet’s sustainability.
Smaller homes also have less lights and electrical appliances, which means those dwelling in them use far less electricity. In fact, with solar power installed, these tiny homes can generally run everything completely off the power of the sun.
Even RVs and other forms of mobile home are now being constructed with shipping containers.
Building Homes From Shipping Containers Is a Faster Process
The faster a home can be constructed, the less impact the process will have on the local environment. Less time on-site means less fuel being used for machinery, and less travel to and from the construction zone.
Homes fashioned from shipping containers can predominantly be built off-site, with the finished portions being transported to the building site for installation when construction in a factory has been completed. This not only means build time is sped up, but also leads to far less travel to and from site. This equates to less fuel being burned.
In a way, shipping container homes are a sort of prefab home construction.
How Homeowners Are Making Their Shipping Container Homes More Sustainable
The original paint in a shipping container can contain toxins, so dwellers are sealing the paint to thwart any issues. Also, the marine flooring in used containers could be contaminated from substances transported or stored within the container, so flooring is often removed and recycled for other purposes.
Homeowners are also insulating their container homes, which helps with sustainability due to less electricity being used to either keep the container cool in summer or warm in winter. Spray foam insulation has proven to be the easiest to apply.
Recycled materials are often used to create both indoor and outdoor furniture and storage areas, yet another way shipping container homeowners are helping to save the planet. Building vegetable and herb gardens on top of the home’s roof also aids sustainability; not only in producing organic food, but this also assists to insulate the container home.
Shipping containers recycled for the use in home construction really are playing a major role in helping the environment. Not only are they a cost-effective building material, but are also perfect for the downsizing movement.
The humble shipping container will continue to play a significant role in the planet’s sustainability for many years to come.