By Stephanie Anderson
For every business and work setup to function effectively, an office space is essential for the team and its productivity. The equipment, systems, and the environment all contribute to making a business more efficient and successful. In today’s competitive business strata, one has to be adaptive and a step ahead to be successful. Traditional office spaces now leave room for concerns in many areas, such as cost, space, and mobility as well as environment. In such a scenario, the concept of an office is changing in many ways.
Today, modern architecture is keen on establishing sustainability at the forefront. Companies are inclined to think about their environmental footprint as ‘Green Offices’ are increasingly gaining popularity. For a green office to be established, there are various factors to be considered relating to energy efficiency, environmental design, and use of land. This goal to find a suitable, sustainable design for an office, using repurposed, recycled material has given rise to Cargotecture.
Simply put, Cargotecture is the architectural practice of using and refurbishing old shipping containers and transforming them into various habitable structures, such as homes, offices, hostels, schools, hospitals, and likewise. These shipping containers therefore become green, eco-friendly solutions with minimum investment.
How are shipping containers eco-friendly?
- Recyclable: Fundamentally, shipping containers are eco-friendly, as they are recycled. After serving their purpose of transporting cargo from one location to another, they can be reused in place of various brick and mortar settlements, thereby reducing the building of multiple new structures. They are an excellent example of being multifunctional, and reusable at the same time, for many years.
- Long-Lasting: One of the causes of damaging effects on the environment is the fast-food society we live in and the use and throw practice of products and materials. However, shipping containers are built with strength, durability, and resilience in mind. Made of Corten steel, they are weatherproof and can withstand earthquakes and natural disasters, making them an ideal structure compared to traditional office buildings that require constant maintenance, repairs, and replacements.
- Waste Reduction: Shipping containers are littered across ports after they fulfill their purpose of importing and exporting goods. Transporting them to ports and maintaining them there is far more expensive than buying them and giving them a second lease on life. This reduces waste of space and land as well as use of other materials like cement, bricks, and concrete to build new buildings and structures.
- Customizable: Unlike traditional office spaces, shipping containers are easily customizable to meet not only your business needs of design, style, space, and aesthetics, but also LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards by:
- Installing water-saving plumbing fixtures in the pantry, bathrooms, or showers.
- Solar panels on the rooftop that will massively cut down electricity costs as well as offer tax deductions on the initial investment in hardware.
- Wide windows which would enable more light to enter in, thereby reducing the need for extra lighting.
- Fixing energy-efficient appliances
- Customizing insulation, fabrications, and ventilation to reduce energy consumption on heating and air-conditioning.
Advantages of a Shipping Container Office
- Cost-Effective: Small businesses and start-ups (in particular) benefit from container offices since they are much cheaper than buying or renting a traditional office space. A cargotecture project on average is 30% more economical compared to a similar brick and mortar structure. In addition, their load-bearing capacity as well as a resilient exterior structure drastically reduces maintenance cost.
- Spacious and Expandable: Shipping container sizes range from 10′ to 40′ to suit office needs. Built to carry cargo of different sizes and weights, they are extremely spacious to accommodate equipment and furniture in a perfect layout for an efficient and seamless operation. As your business and team grows, more containers can be added and placed strategically to meet your needs.
- Mobile: Mobility is yet another factor that makes a strong case for container offices. Being devoid of a foundation, these structures can easily be transported and set-up in different locations. In a world where networking and connecting is at one’s fingertips, a portable office offers a competitive edge in expanding business prospects.
- Durable and versatile: A driving factor behind the surge of shipping containers’ popularity is their durability. Shipping containers, when maintained well, can last over 50 years, as they are designed to resist harsh and rough conditions of the sea and weather. Considering their strength and resilience, they can create versatile, vibrant, multifunctional office spaces.
- Can be customized: Shipping containers are made from graded steel that is durable enough to make changes to the interior design. With sustainability and efficiency in mind, various ideas can be incorporated in setting up a shipping container office, such as:
- A composting toilet
- Rainwater harvesting
- Solar panel and turbine vent rooftop
- Efficient water fixtures to reduce water waste
- HVAC system integration to reduce excess energy consumption
- Lighting, skylight, and window modifications
- Vegetable garden
- Safe: Shipping containers are strong-built and heavy, requiring heavy-duty power machinery, blowtorch, or even dynamite to break into. This makes theft much more difficult, thus keeping all important documents, possessions, and materials secure.
- Attract positive media attention: A lot of emphasis is placed on the contribution of every industry and business towards a green future. A business that operates in unique and eco-friendly ways is usually in the public-eye, highlighting its values and illuminating its business to the forefront.
With innovation and technology along with sky-limiting creative designs, companies can now capitalize on eco-friendly solutions on a budget. Given the benefits and opportunities in building environmentally friendly offices, shipping containers are gaining popularity as the ideal modular office style that is right for future business. Not only are they worth every penny, they also have a social impact on the community as well as protect the environment on a large scale.
Anderson is an established freelance writer who has built her career specializing in modern building architecture and construction.