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Are Container Homes Eco-Friendly Homes?

Posted on April 2, 2020 by Garrett Crocker
Ladybug on blade of grass

What are the environmentally-friendly aspects of a shipping container home? There are quite a few — from the use of fewer materials and resources in their construction to the fact that they’re incredibly long-lasting.

There’s also the fact that shipping containers can be relocated quickly to places where people are in desperate need of housing. For example, after natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes.

That positive facet of container home living may not appear on most lists of eco-friendly housing. It should, though, due to the efficiencies built into the process of locating containers. That is to say, the handling systems and the infrastructure — cranes, ships, trains, etc. — in place to move them from one place to another with speed and efficiency.

Even better, areas that are prone to natural disasters can prep for them beforehand by using containers to house residents.

“The units are capable of meeting or exceeding hurricane codes in Miami-Dade and seismic codes, like in California,” says David Cross of SG Blocks.

According to The Spruce, the building materials used in container homes “are also resistant to many of the problems that plague traditional wood-frame homes: fire, mold, leaks, and wood-boring insects.”

“Certainly termites and other varmints aren’t interested in steel,” Cross says.

What Makes Container Homes Eco-Friendly?

Another environmentally friendly — or at least efficient — aspect of container home living is that these homes can be built in locations that are traditionally unsuitable for housing. For example, container homes can be embedded on steep hillsides of propped up with support beams on extreme slopes where the land is not used (or can’t be used) for other purposes.

There’s also the fact that reusing something — e.g., a recycled shipping container — rather than building something new is also inherently enviro-friendly.

Plus, consider that a storage container can be retrofitted into a tiny home without the need to harvest timber that might typically be necessary to build something from scratch.

“Shipping containers are left abandoned every year,” writes Sara Barnes at “By using them for a dwelling, you’re repurposing steel and giving it a new life. In addition, your recycling cuts down on other materials like concrete or bricks.”

Affordability, Arrangeability

The folks at Sundog Structures, who make container homes, bring up a good point, too. Container homes are affordable, which means more money left over for other things.

“By saving money on property fees and construction, you can invest more money into making your home comfortable, eco-friendly, and technologically-advanced,” they write. “You’ll have more money to spend on ‘green’ appliances, which will allow you to live a more environmentally-friendly life, without breaking the bank.”

Another overlooked aspect of building shipping container houses is that they can easily be arranged to take advantage of natural light to make the living space warm and inviting — or cool and inviting. In fact, managing heat and cool spaces inside a tiny house is easily accomplished. 

Finally, as fully modular units on a plot of land, these green buildings make the best and most efficient use of the available square feet. Interior finishes can be just about anything, too!

Finally, container homeowners can also utilize tried-and-true measures to make their container home even more eco-friendly. For example, residents can install rainwater collectors, build compost heaps and grow their own veggies.

Container Stop

As we’ve written elsewhere on the Container Stop blog, “the tried-and-true methods of energy and resource conservation work just as well — sometimes better! — in a container home.”

Container homeowners can also add:

  • Solar panels
  • Low-flush toilets and showerheads
  • Ceiling fans
  • Tankless water heaters
  • LEDs
  • Insulation

And because of a container home’s smaller footprint, many of these eco-friendly practices can potentially have a bigger impact.

Make sure to consult your local building codes to see where you can get started on your own dream shipping container home.

Please browse the Container Stop website for more great ideas about container home living. 

And as always, if you have questions, get in touch!

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We’ve built cabins, garden sheds, and tack rooms with our containers. Have an idea for your shipping container? Let us know!

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