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Recently, we reported on the alternative use of old shipping containers as houses. This is an extremely efficient use of resources, and we were lucky enough to land an interview with Rosie of CS Shipping Containers. CS Shipping containers is a company based in the UK that works to convert old shipping containers into homes, and other uses. She answered a few questions that we had on what her company does, and what she likes about going green!
What are the common uses for converted shipping containers? What do you feel are the advantages?
In honesty the most common conversions we get asked to do are offices, classrooms and site accommodation. The most recent is that we have been asked to get involved with a large project which involves converting 146 containers into workshops which will be sited in West London. We have also been involved in quoting for lots of work to do with the 2012 London Olympics. The most unusual conversion we have done is possibly for an observatory which had a sliding roof and was housed in a pub car park – a different way of seeing stars after a good night out perhaps?The advantages of using shipping containers are many. I suppose the most obvious is the fact that they are so easily transportable and can easily slot into the existing infrastructure. Think how brilliant that is for providing affordable housing for nurses, teachers, firemen etc in inner city areas where they can be close to where they work.
What is the process involved in converting them?
That really depends what we are converting them into! But most containers need insulating and lining. Traditionally this has involved using rockwool and either plasterboard or faced plywood but we have been experimenting with ceramic paint which has been pioneered by NASA and have been very pleased with the results. Not only has it superb insulating properties but does not lose any space internally, which, as a shipping container is only 8′ wide is always at a premium. We usually would put in windows and doors, heating and electricity and then fit the containers out according to our customers specific needs.
What kind of pricing range can one expect from your company?
A container just for storage ranges from £725. An average office conversion is about £4,000 but we have been involved in projects that have cost tens of thousands of pounds.
I noticed you’re a UK company. Any thoughts about bringing your business to the United States or elsewhere in the world?
We quite often get asked to quote for projects in the US but as a young company we are not really set up to do that as yet. It is something that we would love to look into in the future, particularly as my business partner was educated in New York and still has close family out in Westchester.
This is a green blog. How do you feel your product is making the world greener? What is your favorite “green” aspect of working with these containers?
In the UK only one in every five shipping containers returns to the shipping industry. The rest are released onto the domestic market and are stockpiled in ports etc. The sad truth is that it is cheaper for shipping lines to buy new containers wherever they need them rather than move old shipping containers around. Finding ways to reuse these containers by converting them into offices, housing etc is really rewarding – particularly when on average you can use recycled materials for anything up to 80% of the work if the customer is keen. A huge “green” benefit is the construction time of these projects as, on average, times are reduced by over 33% which makes a huge difference in terms of the amount of power and labor that is required.
My favorite aspect of all in working with shipping containers is just how inventive you can be in using them and how energy efficient they are. They are ideal for putting on solar panels and even a green roof. I get really excited when I hear of “green” ways of using them in the environment – such as by partially burying them for example -or when I see them used in different ways such as an the Containart art pavillion in Singapore. But if you were to ask me what really I would like to see more of, then I would harp back to my previous answer about providing affordable housing for people who, in today’s economic climate in particular, need to have the security of not having a mortgage.
So there you have it… some great information from Rosie over at CS Shipping Containers. Look for more from them coming soon… and we’ll be sure to let you know about it as soon as it happens, here at Go Green Street!