Sustainable Luxury Living, in a Shipping Container

Sustainable Luxury Living, in a Shipping Container
  • Opening Intro -

    Sustainable living has become a virtual art form for individuals dedicated to reducing their impact on the earth and the environment.

    Every day people are coming up with new, exciting and innovative ways to reuse, repurpose and refit objects that would otherwise be discarded - turning them into vital, useful resources.

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One of the most impressive ways that environment friendly individuals have managed this is through the construction of low-cost, recycled-material homes. Over the past 30 years, all manner of objects – from huge to tiny – have been used to create surprisingly luxurious living spaces at a fraction of the cost of traditional building methods. Many such spaces have even helped contribute to the development of new technologies like renewable energy appliances and earth-friendly insulation.

Old shipping containers and enormous metal or corrugated steel boxes used in the global transportation of cargo have become a favorite material for such home builders because of their size, durability and relatively-basic design. These features, plus many others, have allowed a number of modern property owners to create a sustainable luxury living space for an incredibly low price. As the popularity of this construction method grows, new benefits to these real-life Legos are being discovered all the time.

Here are just a few of the sustainable features of shipping containers:

The Ultimate Space Saver
Many homes that incorporate shipping containers challenge traditional space conventions. The average container is roughly 40 feet long, eight feet wide and eight feet high – a total of 320 square feet. They can be stacked and arranged in a variety of ways, but they never have to expand beyond their original dimensions. This means that heating and cooling the space is extremely affordable. Also, any number of vents and windows can be easily positioned to maximize airflow and natural light – cutting down on power needs.

The limited space also encourages the inhabitants to be more conservative in their needs. Rooms are often multi purpose, depending on how they are arranged, and the compact floor plan encourages more use of natural, outdoor spaces. Many shipping container houses beautifully incorporate their natural surroundings through porches, decks, gardens and atriums.

Low Cost
The cargo industry is not always booming, and many containers sit unused for years or even decades at a time. Most shipyards will be willing to part with their containers for $1,000 to $2,000 – making them one of the cheapest materials available for the amount of square footage they provide. Once purchased, the materials are easily transportable – for obvious reasons.

The fact that a multiple-person home can be designed and constructed for under $50,000 means an awful lot of room is left in the budget for innovations and improvements. Solar panels and wind turbine generators are not commonly known for their low cost, but when a family’s budget is not wrapped up in materials and fees, such investments suddenly become a perfectly practical option.

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Insulation and Power
Shipping containers are fire and rust resistant, so virtually any type of element a home builder wishes to introduce to the construction will not be a problem. In cold climates, fireplaces can be added to multiple rooms to provide added heat, while water fixtures can be used to help cool the air in the summertime. The flat metal roofs of the containers are also an ideal place for solar panels. Some people have even added green roofing tiles designed to soak up rainwater and snowmelt. With a little resourcefulness, a shipping container home can be taken completely off the grid in no time.

Easy Modification
Specialists in sustainable living will be able to work with construction companies and architects to decide the best way to arrange and modify a shipping container house – maximizing options for power supply and maintenance. Since the containers are essentially just metal husks, no modification is out of the question.

• Roofs can be removed to create self-sustaining indoor gardens.
• Containers can be buried to create full indoor pools.
• Containers can be upended to create a tall space with a natural skylight or even a shaft for a solar-powered elevator.

The possibilities are virtually limitless
Shipping containers may be one of the most feasible recycled materials to ever be used for home construction, and as global commerce continues to change, they may become more available than ever before. For those with the dedication and ingenuity to create real, sustainable living space with such materials, the rewards – both financial and emotional – will be truly astonishing.

Sustainable living is not a fad, it is a logical trend that human beings must accept in order to retain their quality of life. Unless more people become dedicated to maximizing the resources that others would commonly discard, the planet may never recover from the past few centuries of waste.

Marc Grant is Social Media Coordinator with Tradequip.com, a website that enables people to sell new or used oil rig and water well equipment, as well as a number of oilfield fishing tools.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glamourschatz/6045966020/

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