Shipping Container Architecture: Is It Really Green?

Shipping Container Architecture: Is It Really Green?

Micki Howl
Sep 19, 2011

Transforming shipping containers into habitable homes isn't a new concept to our Re-Nest community. So far, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive in favor of this type of re-use but now, an alternative viewpoint is emerging arguing that there may be more of a downside than originally thought.

The pros of this trend (dubbed "cargotecture") have been laid out before:
• Cost - at approx. $900 per container, these structures are much more affordable than a typical home.
• Durability - Since these containers are shipped all over the world in extreme conditions, they are built to last.
• Availability - The shelf life of these containers is short and the shipping container "graveyards" are quickly growing.

Brian Pagnotta, writer for Arch Daily points out that the cons may outweigh the pros when it comes to the eco-friendly rating of this trend. The two main arguments to support this are:
• Use of hazardous chemicals - The exterior and interior of these containers are sprayed with toxic chemicals, including lead paint.
• The additional manpower and fossil fuels it takes to transform these containers has been greatly underestimated.

He concludes that while there are several positive aspects to this architectural trend, in the end "it is typically not the best method of design and construction."

Where does "cargotecture" rank on your eco-friendly scale?

Read More on this Subject
Arch Daily, The Pros and Cons of Cargo Container Architecture
Behind the Scenes of Shipping Container Architecture

(Image: Homey Shipping Containers from Numen Designs)