Industrial shipping containers are beginning to find new life as job site trailers, housing structures, storage, and work spaces instead of simply being discarded. Given that there are almost 25 million empty shipping containers that have been retired from usage in the world, repurposing them is a sustainable measure that minimizes waste. Since most containers are discarded after only 10-15 years of use, they’re usually in good condition and can be easily reused. They’re long-lasting, durable, and don’t require a significant amount of maintenance, making them ideal for storage purposes or as shelter for either personal or professional uses. Using them for a commercial space like movie theatres or bistros can lend a quirky and unique edge to your business, while using them as home structures may offer sustainable and discounted housing to those who need it.
How Large Are These Industrial Shipping Containers?
The most standard 20 foot shipping container can contain 1,150 cubic feet. A 40 foot cube (height) can hold 2,700 cubic feet. You could sack over 3,500 shoe boxes in the 20 foot container and almost 8,500 shoe boxes in the 40 foot container.
Most shipping container homes will use the 40-foot size — they’re eight feet wide and eight and a half feet tall. Each unit gives you about 300 feet of space; putting four containers together, usually side by side will provide a three-bedroom home that has about 1,200 square feet. Given that the average studio apartment in Manhattan is a little under 600 feet,
Most shipping container homes use 40-foot units. Standard 40 feet shipping containers are eight feet wide and 8.5 tall, and each one gives you about 300 feet of living or office space. Situating four of these of these containers side-by side will create a three-bedroom house around 1,200 square feet.
What are the Benefits of Using Industrial Shipping Containers?
Durable and Long-Lasting
Shipping containers can last anywhere from 20-25 years, as long as they’re well kept up and painted regularly. Steel shipping containers in particularly often reach the higher end of the lifespan spectrum and don’t require too much maintenance. They tend to be weather-resistant and can withstand 100 mph winds if they’re on a foundation or 175 mph winds if anchored with pylons. If you live in an area that’s high risk for tornadoes and hurricanes, these container-homes are more sturdy than you might expect and a great choice, whether you opt for single units or connected units.
There are some job sites that estimate that building using shipping containers can save as much as 40% in costs, compared to using traditional construction methods. You have raw material already built in and the basic structure of four walls, a roof, and floor built in. Of course, costs vary depending on the future use of the container — a job trailer or storage might be less expensive than an office or home, for example.
Furthermore, if you’re creating a housing structure using an industrial shipping container, you only need about two to three weeks, as compared to the four to six months that it takes to build a brick and mortar structure.
The shipping containers themselves are very eco-green, considering that they’re composed of 85% recycled steel and if they’re demolished they’re 100% recyclable. Repurposing them in construction saves on new materials that need to be produced. Indeed, reusing just one 40 foot container reuses around 3,500 kilograms of steel and saves 8,000 kWh in energy that would be needed to melt the steel down.
Structures made out of containers are easily mobile and can be stacked, don’t necessarily a foundation, and have a myriad of creative uses. From more traditional homes and office spaces to a space for industrial equipment that can hold air compressors or chemical processing equipment to being remodeled as hip or quirky restaurants or movie theatres, there are so many uses for these containers.
There’s no reason shipping containers need to sit idle when there are so many ways for them to be repurposed and provide useful spaces for communities all over the world.