Contain Yourself: The Future of Sustainable Living?

Sprawling landscapes peppered with colorful homes is a picture painted over and over again depicting our great land and all its living pleasures. However, in the future, living in one of these structures just may become more burdensome than ever before. If suburban and rural homes do not crossover into self-sustaining practices, it will only be a matter of time before living in a one family structure will be relegated to the über-wealthy. More people will be forced into dense dwelling situations to share energy costs. However, apartment living may also become too much of a financial drain on working class families as they too struggle with energy challenges. Affordable housing is continuing to become scarce and therefore more green architectural innovation has emerged. One such attempt is the ability to turn shipping containers into living complexes.

The Container

container-houseFor decades the shipping container has been the staple of global goods transport. It is easily moved by air, sea or land without any manipulation to the structure whatsoever. They transport everything from toys to telephones and can take an enormous beating from any natural element as well as constant movement wear and tear.

Disaster Relief

Even before hurricane Sandy’s wrath, New York City began a housing disaster relief project through the shipping container architecture sector. Plans were in the works to be able to rapidly roll out and even stack entire communities of livable shipping containers complete with every creature comfort available. Starting with a studio space of approximately 480 square feet, disaster victims are offered all needed amenities including a living room, kitchen and bathroom as well as independent septic tanks and dependent or independent energy grids. This proposal is nearly complete and, according to the NYC Office of Emergency Management, should be capable of deploying around late 2013. The green benefit is twofold. It will enable disaster ravaged communities to continue living rather than draining critical emergency funds and it is a prototype for the possibility of future self-sustaining complexes.

Already in the Works

Shipping containers are practically indestructible with the ability to resist fire, mold, and termites. Production is usually local offering a reduction in resources and materials as well as transfer costs. Plus, many containers are constructed of recycled materials and London has already dubbed several developments, ‘Container Cities’ with some reaching as high as six stories. Solar, closed-cell soya foam insulation and floors made of recycled tires are a few of the green friendly ways these shipping containers can be transformed. A container home can be folded and shipped anywhere coming in at about $184,000 for a three bedroom, two and a half bath, 2,000 square foot unit with upwards of 70% made of completely recycled material.

Just think, the next time a debilitating storm hits a community it just may need to simply press a button and have itself close down until it passes. Shipping container communities may be the next step in smart, sustainable living.

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