One of the main issues that are cropping up with shipping container architecture is things are often pushed onto recycling being the green solution, then you get greens telling us how toxic the paints are and how transportation is a waste of energy.
The important thing is though if its available and usable its green. If it isn’t and in many cases they aren’t then we are looking at modular construction for buildings which is a more viable method for many uses. I originally worked on this type of system in the late 90s for use in classrooms and clinic construction in the UK as a temporary solution.
Temporary often means a decade as they are generally put into place as an immediate solution while discussions, planning and funding are found for building the main buildings that will replace them. During this time though many of these units would return after years of being in the field and be revamped before sending back out. Which does show the fact they were extremely reliable and resilient to weather. Add to that having slot walling meant that upon return walls would be rejigged to suit the new layout for the building they were becoming. Very little wastage as all windows and doors ended up back in other buildings if not used.
The fact is the shipping container idea developed this new concept which is now fairly old in use but still has a growing market which does appear China is gearing towards the housing industry with.
I can see this being the future of shipping container homes as the dimensions are still in place although the walling systems have been completely redesigned.
Its probably one of the biggest issues facing container homes as well as the reason many people get put off from building a shipping container home. In reality though there are several options open to people and they don’t all involve specialist equipment.
The best insulation comes from a foam spray currently that can be added externally or internally. Generally I would advise externally as it saves wasting space on the inside of the structure. At the same time the foam spray doesn’t leave spaces for vapour build up which could cause rust or rot long term.
There are DIY kits as shown in the one I added from Amazon personally I advise getting a company in or looking at hiring the industrial equipment especially if doing the entire container also remember to get safety gear as this stuff is extremely sticky and another good reason to get a professional in is insurance.
The next method is using things like glass fibre or injected insulation in between cavities internally or externally. First issue is that it doesn’t seal 100% and if vermin find their way in they can nest inside the walls. It also doesn’t carry the same insulation properties as the foam with a much lower rating currently although like most things in the industry everyone is pushing for better quality and standards so that could change. Also looking at alternative methods there are many other things that can be used on the same principles but I advise a bit of time and research on any insulation methods as every salesman doesn’t give you the negatives just the sales pitch. For me I would go with the batten method with many projects purely down to low cost and also ease of installation.
Specialised insulation or heat reflective paints are still in the early days but do work to some degree can’t really rate them myself as I have yet to find some here in the Philippines but do know the industry says their great while other people are a bit more skeptical so would need some feedback on these types of methods as simply it needs “proof in the pudding” rather than industry fed information
The other method which is my favorite but not always easily available is natural cooling which can be as simple as placing the shipping container home in a shaded area, building a trellis on the side that gains the most sun and growing plants that will cover the trellis. Or raising the building off the ground to allow natural heating and cooling due to using the elements to assist. During the day air travels under the home at the same time the sun heats the exposed ground area which at night naturally can heat the home. Adding into the mix air ducts to naturally force cool air through the home with no running costs or adding a secondary angled roof to use as shade as well as rainwater harvesting are all alternatives. One I thought of while visiting someone’s farm recently with spring water everywhere is running natural water flow under or over a building to cool the building from the water supply while using the same feed to the fish ponds so that the water isn’t wasted.