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Published: June 1, 2023

Shipping Containers for Greener Building

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Green building is a popular movement as industries and consumers become more concerned with environmental issues and sustainability. Shipping container buildings are an ideal choice for commercial projects looking to go green. The green building industry has rapidly evolved, and there are already many things architects, builders, and consumers can do to make structures more environmentally friendly. Among those is the use of modified shipping containers for new building projects. The many benefits of shipping containers, including their ability to be modified and adapted, make them ideal for green building designs.

What is Green Building?

Green building is the concept of designing and constructing buildings to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. There are many ways in which green buildings differ from traditional buildings, from their original designs to the actual construction process.

  1. Resource Efficiency

Green building involves using required and available building materials and resources as efficiently as possible. This may include upcycling and recycling, in which builders give new life to existing materials, objects, or other building components. Resource efficiency also requires the reduction of construction waste. This can be achieved by either generating less waste or finding innovative ways to use materials that would typically be discarded. 

  1. Energy Efficiency

Excessive heating or cooling needs often result in unnecessary energy expenditure. Proper insulation and ventilation is important to reduce energy use. Energy systems can be made more sustainable by designing buildings to integrate solar panels, wind turbines, or other renewable energy systems.

  1. Water Efficiency

Water collection and water use reduction can help to make water systems more efficient and less wasteful. Integrating rainwater collection systems allows for water reuse for things like landscaping and cleaning. Using water-saving and low-flow fixtures in construction can minimize water consumption.

  1. Site Selection

Repurposing existing building sites reduces the need for new construction on undeveloped land. Green site selection may also include considering access to public transportation. Choosing locations with easy access can reduce the environmental impact associated with commuting and individual vehicle use. 

  1. Environmental Protection

Green building requires consideration of the materials used in terms of their effect on the environment. Using sustainable and non-toxic materials for insulation, finishes, and other building elements promotes indoor air quality and reduces environmental harm. Appropriate stormwater management also helps to protect surrounding environmental structures, bodies of water, and ecosystems. 

  1. Lifespan and Durability

Building with materials that are durable and can withstand harsh conditions reduces the need for frequent repairs or replacements. Lifespan of buildings is increased when original designs allow for easy scalability and adaptability, reducing the need for new construction when and if additional space is required.

Why is Green Building Important?

The extent to which builders and consumers prioritize sustainability and environmental protection will vary, but in general the concepts that drive green building are universal. Construction and renovation is moving towards greener practices for many reasons that benefit the environment, industries, and populations.

Environmental preservation:

The use of sustainable materials, energy-efficient systems, and renewable resources helps to reduce the impact on the environment and preserve natural resources for future generations.

Energy conservation:

Reducing energy consumption through measures like efficient insulation, smart and intuitive HVAC systems, and the use of renewable energy resources like solar will decrease reliance on fossil fuels and lower overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Cost savings:

Green building practices often result in long-term cost savings. Energy-efficient systems and technologies can significantly reduce utility bills, while proper insulation and design help maintain comfortable indoor climates and reduce the need for excessive heating or cooling. 

Health and well-being:

The indoor air quality, natural lighting, and non-toxic environment that results from green building creates healthier living and working environments. Improving indoor climates can reduce the risk of things like respiratory issues, allergies, and other health problems associated with poor air quality in living and working spaces. 

Increased property value:

Green buildings tend to have higher property values due to their energy efficiency, lower operating costs over time, and positive environmental impact. This can attract eco-conscious buyers and tenants who are willing to pay a premium for sustainable features. 

Regulatory compliance:

Many places have begun to introduce building codes and regulations that require greener building practices. Prioritizing green construction from the beginning, starting in the planning stages, helps to ensure compliance with regulations and avoid potential penalties or fines down the road. 

Corporate social responsibility:

For companies and businesses, pursuing green building shows a commitment to sustainability and upholds their corporate social responsibility. Besides being a positive move for the environment, this can also boost a company’s reputation and attract new business.

Resilience and adaptability:

As climates fluctuate and we see more frequent impacts from natural disasters, greener structures that incorporate more resilient design principles are more likely to last.  

Job creation and economic growth:

The increased construction of green buildings leads to job creation in sectors like renewable energy, manufacturing, and construction. This is excellent for employment and economic health, but also moves towards building a greener economy in general. 

How are Shipping Containers a Good Choice for Greener Building?

  1. Shipping containers are repurposed and upcycled.

By giving shipping containers a new, repurposed, and upcycled life as building components, it reduces demand for new construction materials and minimizes the need for extraction and processing of raw materials.

  1. Shipping container construction reduces construction waste.

Building with shipping containers reduces potential construction waste as the containers are already prefabricated. There is less cutting, shaping, and scrapping of material during the construction process from start to finish. 

  1. Shipping containers can be easily modified for energy efficiency.

Since they already create a solid base structure that is sturdy yet uncomplicated, shipping containers are easy to modify with things like insulation, ventilation, high-performance windows, energy-efficient appliances, and other features that reduce energy consumption. 

  1. Shipping container structures offer modular and scalable design options.

Container structures allow for easy scalability and adaptability to changing needs. Green container buildings can be designed to allow the addition of more containers for more space as needed, reducing the need for new construction.

  1. Shipping container buildings can be mobile and reusable.

Many container buildings can be designed to be easily relocated or broken down and reused, reducing the need for new construction when buildings need to be moved or repurposed. This promotes the sustainable use of existing lots and reduces the impact of demolishing or rebuilding structures.

What are Some Green Modifications that Can be Made to Shipping Container Structures?

Designs will vary according to things like need, budget, and architectural vision, but there are a variety of green modifications that may be possible in designing shipping container structures. Some examples include:

  • Solar panels to harness renewable energy for lighting, heading, and electrical uses
  • Rainwater harvesting systems that can help conserve water resources by reusing rainwater for things like toilets or irrigation
  • Insulation of the walls, roof, and floor to reduce heating and cooling needs
  • Energy-efficient appliances and lighting to reduce power usage and overall energy consumption
  • Sustainable and non-toxic interior finishes like low-VOC paints, sustainable flooring, and reclaimed wood features
  • Green roofs or living walls that look great while providing insulation and improving air quality
  • Water-efficient fixtures like low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads

Considering shipping containers for building is a great start for designing greener structures. If you’re looking for a custom shipping container design to fit your needs, M1 Containers has the design, modification, and maintenance expertise to plan your ideal shipping container building. Contact M1 Containers today!

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