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GREEN BUILDINGS: How to Start A Shipping Container Building Project.

Conference Paper · April 2016

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Curt Truman
Columbia University


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The term built environment refers to man and his relationship with buildings, parks, green
space to neighborhoods and cities. This can also include their supporting infrastructure, such
as water supply or energy networks. The built environment is a material, spatial and cultural product
of human labor that combines physical elements and energy in forms for living, working and playing.
It has been defined as "the humanitarian-made space in which people live, work, and recreate on a
day-to-day basis." The "built environment encompasses places and spaces created or modified by
people including buildings, parks, and transportation systems." In recent years, public health research
has expanded the definition of "built environment" to include healthy food access, community
gardens, "walkability" and "bikeability. Built environment. (2016, April 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:32,

April 28, 2016, fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Built_environment&oldid=715693874


Storage container houses are popular with the eco-conscious crowd, thanks to their environmental
benefits – but those aren’t the only advantages of living in ship container homes. Popular
Mechanics and CBS News note a number of pros and cons of modern container homes. There is a
worldwide stockpile of unused shipping containers sitting idle in seaports and shipping yards around the
world. A recent documentary on The National Geography Channel estimated the number of unused
shipping containers to be approximately over two hundred million.

Countries across the globe are embracing the container home movement, with container
conversion projects in regions that include the US, the UK, New Zealand, Chili, Canada, Spain, South
Africa, the Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Norway, Switzerland and Australia – just to name a few.
Shipping Container Housing Benefits

 Repurposes the thousands of unused containers scattered around global shores

 Economical, with empty shipping containers costing anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 each
 Strong, durable and made from galvanized steel, shipping containers are typically stronger
than wooden frames
 Easy design plans stem from the modular design, with the ability to place containers side-by-
side or up to 12 empty containers on top of each other
 Reinforced and ready for action, assembled pre-built homes in as few as three days
 Resistant to mold, fire and termites
 Can be converted into homes wherever is most convenient, and then easily transported and
assembled at final destination
 Materials age well and require very little maintenance
 When building a house with shipping containers homes can be modified later on to include
new modules
 The Addis shipping container construction technique offers many benefits over other
construction techniques and materials..
 Low Structural Cost - High Strength
 Shipping containers offer a huge structural strength for a fraction of the cost of traditional
timber steel and concrete constructions. Because all the strength is contained in the structural
elements themselves, the foundation design is simpler and less expensive.
 These two factors leave more room in the budget for exterior finishes and interior design,
allowing luxurious appointment with contemporary design materials.
 Small Footprint - Large Living Area
 This construction technique is ideal for multi-story dwellings or office space, offering a large
usable area in a small footprint.
 Short Construction Time
 Once the plan is designed, the containers are prepared and fitted out at the workshop.
Construction time onsite can be as little as 7 days to fully weatherproofed condition.
 Unlimited Potential for Difficult Sites
 The structural strength of the Addis engineering technique can be used to overcome design
problems posed by difficult sites. http://www.shipping-container-housing.com/

Billed as the largest container
city in the world, Amsterdam's
massive Keetwonen
complex houses 1,000
students, many of whom are
happy to secure housing in the
city's tight real estate market.

Designed byTempo
Housing in 2006, Keetwonen
is said to be a roaring
success, with units that are
well insulated, surprisingly
quiet and comfortable. Each
resident enjoys a balcony,
bathroom, kitchen, separate
sleeping and studying rooms
and large windows. The
complex has central heating
and high speed Internet, as
well as dedicated bike parking.
Keetwonen has proved so
popular that its lease has been
extended until at least 2016

Residents may technically be

studying in containers, but by
no means are the individual
rooms bare boned. The
temporary project was
originally meant to move on
this year, but residents will be
happy to know that relocation
will not take place until 2016.
And upon relocation, yes, the
home can go with you.


LOT-EK is this fantastic

concept for a tower at 87
Lafayette Street in New York
City. The idea is for a 19-story
artists' loft building, built by
stacking containers, with
staircases at the north and
south ends. The roof of the
slanted tower would sport
solar panels.

The building in front of the

bold new design is an historic
New York City firehouse,
perhaps serving as a visual tie
to the past.

The shipping container

segments, which protrude
from the façade in varying
degrees, activate the façade in
the third dimension. These
container elements house
specific programs including
leisure spaces, bathrooms,
and kitchens. The containers,
glazed from ground to ceiling,
frame unobstructed,
transparent views to the
exterior, contrasting with the
translucent views of the mesh-
clad surfaces

SOURCE: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/g172/shipping-container-homes-460309/
De Maria Design Redondo Beach House

With its modern lines and
appealing spaces, the award-
winning Redondo Beach
House by De Maria
Design turns heads. The
luxury beachside showpiece
was built from eight
prefabricated, recycled steel
shipping containers, along
with some traditional building
materials. According to the
architects, the modified
containers are "nearly
indestructible," as well as
resistant to mold, fire, and
termites. Seventy percent of
SOURCE: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/g the building was efficiently
172/shipping-container-homes-460309/ assembled in a shop, saving
time, money and resources.
One of the containers can
even sport a pool! The lessons
learned from Redondo Beach
House are being incorporated
into a line of more affordable,
accessible designs, soon
available as Logical Homes.
Andre Movsesyan/DeMaria


Sixteen weathered shipping
containers are trading their
lives at sea for windows,
insulation, and electricity
and, eventually, human
inhabitants through a new
project coming to Grand
Avenue. The 9,500-pound
steel boxes will form the
architectural and aesthetic
base of Containers on
Grand, a complex of eight 1-
bedroom apartments that
will sit on less than half an
acre off 12th and Grand

contractor and architecture
firm behind the project, is
aiming to make the
containers rental-ready by
the spring. The boxes were
shipped to Phoenix from Los
Angeles in October and
November and are sitting in
an industrial lot awaiting
transformation. Re-
purposing shipping
containers is one way to
reuse resources the country
already has available.

The Oscar is a new Mixed-
Use project that will include
8 residential units and
between 4 – 8
commercial/retail mixed-use
spaces at the ground level.

Beginning the Trend

The first person to thank for

the Shipping Container
Revolution is a man named
Malcom McLean, who, in 1956
changed the world by
inventing the first shipping
container concept, which not
only brought the cost of
loading and unloading down
90%, but speeded the loading
process of a ship, from days to
just a few hours.

There was much resistance to

the change from the Dock
Workers Unions and shipping
companies. The Dock
Workers would need to layoff
many employees, and
shipping companies must
modify their ships to
accommodate the new thing
called a shipping container.

It wasn't until the mid-1970's

that containers became
standard on every ship
globally. The US Military
began demanding them for
their shipments and supplies
globally, and the success was
so great the shipping
companies had no option.
Thus, the ISO Shipping
Container was fully born,
legitimate and standardized as
we see it now. Fill it at the
factories; truck it to the ship;
load it 5-10 containers high;
unload at the destination port;
load onto another truck or rail
car, then off load
The first step, most contractors agree, is to find a reputable distributor. “Shipping companies
don’t want people calling them for one or ten containers. They prefer to sell to dealers,” says Barry
Naef, director of the ISBU Association (ISBU stands for intermodal steel building units, the term for
containers used specifically for construction). He recommends checking the extensive international
list of dealers on the Eco Green Sources website. And don’t despair if you live far from the ocean.
Thanks to a network of inland distribution hubs, says Naef, “there are as many [containers] in the mid-
US and Canada as there are at the ports, at nearly the same prices.” A dealer can help arrange for
overland transport of your container via 18-wheeler truck.

If you do decide to purchase a genuine seafaring container, you’ll need to keep a number of
factors in mind. First is size (see graph A) although dimensions are generally standardized, your
safest bet for projects that join multiple units is to purchase a single brand (perhaps one whose logo
you fancy). Houston-based architect Christopher Robertson, who has designed both upscale
residential and disaster-relief housing using containers, recommends choosing “high cubes” (HQ),
which are about a foot taller than standard, because the smaller size can feel claustrophobic after
installing insulation. Lengths vary from 8 to 53 feet, with 20 feet and 40 feet being the most common.
Whichever you choose, Robertson cautions that the costs of transportation and modification quickly
add up. “There’s a real misconception that building with containers is absurdly inexpensive.
Unfortunately, that’s not true at all,” he says.

Assuming you’re still hooked on the many other benefits of container construction, you’ll need
to think about age and condition. Options range from virtually unscathed “one-trippers” to eight-to-ten-
year-old retired containers, with varying degrees of rust, dents, and warping. Your choice depends on
your design goals. For Brook van der Linde, an artist who built a DIY container home with her
husband in Asheville, cost and sustainability were more important than perfect condition. “Our goal
was to use materials that were headed for the landfill. Our containers were constructed in 2005 so
they had a good long life going to China and back,” she says. Robertson, on the other hand, sought
out one-trippers for his residential project. “They’re a little more expensive but they look a lot better. If
they start having a lot of dings and rusts, you lose the aesthetic pleasure.” http://www.dwell.com/how/article/how-

Shipping Container Homes, Plans, and Cargotecture Designs

The Container Home trends continue to grow. The Shipping Container Home plans and
Shipping Container Home designs are more plentiful now than ever before. A recent news article in
Time Magazine entitled, "Old Shipping Containers Are New Housing Trend" points out the cargo
home architecture and container home designs remain the fastest growing trend in Green
construction. The Time Magazine news article quoted the Director of the Intermodal Steel Building
Unit Association (ISBA) indicating the actual construction of Shipping Container homes has more
than doubled in 2015. Architects, engineers, and designers are showing interest in Container home
construction and ISBU modules at a record pace. http://www.containerhomes-info.com/.
Container Specifications
California Container Transport stocks a wide variety of container types to meet your storage and transportation needs. The
table below reflects the standard sizes available. Sizes and weights may very slightly between different container manufacturers.
However, we can modify any of our existing container stock to meet any custom specifications you desire.


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