The shipping industry benefited greatly from the introduction of cargo containers in the early twentieth century. The International Organization for Standardization was formed in 1947 for the purpose of creating standards of dimension for commercial and industrial shipping containers and products. The introduction of standardized container sizes made the formation of a worldwide shipping industry inevitable, as trade costs were greatly reduced and the mass-production of cargo container ships began in earnest. Today the shipping industry spans the globe, with the busiest ports handling thousands of tons of cargo per year.
With the green movement becoming ever more popular, cargo containers have begun to be used as personal storage containers or even as living spaces after they have been decommissioned. Unconventional architects have started designing homes based around cargo containers and recycled steel in general.
That being said, despite their popularity as a green alternative to other construction methods such as steel buildings, there are still problems with cargo containers. For example, their touted “green-ness" overlooks the fact that the vast majority of steel produced worldwide, approximately sixty-four percent, is recycled; in fact, in the United States, almost ninety percent of all steel is recycled. Therefore, the supposed legitimacy of recycled cargo containers because of the green factor falls a little flat once the facts are known.
In addition, there are other problems associated with using cargo containers. The majority of them can be attributed to one simple fact: they are unattractive as buildings. This fact is exemplified by the example of a city in Arizona, Apache Junction, that actually banned the use of recycled cargo containers for housing. The city claimed the reason was that residents had been complaining of declining real estate prices due to the cargo containers beginning to make a definite presence in the market. It is important to note that this resulted from the fact that not only were cargo containers ugly, but they were also very cheap, thus exerting downward pressure on prices.
This example only points to the unattractiveness of cargo containers as a point counting against them, not for them. Another problem of cargo containers is that they were never designed to be used as housing, but as shipping containers. For this reason alone, they make for poor storage containers and even worse living spaces.
If residents of big cities and urban areas are looking for appropriate storage or living facilities, steel buildings can provide all the benefits they are looking for without the unattractiveness of cargo containers. Plus, steel buildings are made from recycled steel, which automatically makes them functionally green even if they are not specifically marketed as green. This article will review the benefits of steel buildings and show that they are a superior building material to recycled cargo containers.
Steel buildings, due to the fact that they are recycled, cost up to sixty percent less than wooden buildings. The efficiency of steel buildings is attested to by the following statistic: a steel building takes only as much as three or four recycled cars, but a wooden twenty-five-hundred-square-foot house might take as much as seventy trees in order to get enough wood to build it. Thus, steel buildings use much less recycled steel than wooden buildings use wood, which makes them very attractive to home buyers or builders with an eye towards costs.
Due to the chemical properties of steel as a metal, steel buildings characteristically offer increased safety for occupants that wooden buildings do. Since the main parts of a steel building are usually prefabricated, which means that they are constructed off-site and brought to the construction site ready to be assembled, this makes the actual building process very easy. All the builders have to do is fit the pieces together and screw or weld them into place. This ensures that the building will be very sturdy for decades to come because steel does not rot or fall apart as it gets older like wooden buildings do.
In addition to their sturdiness, steel buildings also have no susceptibility to ants or termites or any other insect infestation because of the fact that insects do not like steel. Now, cargo containers have this advantage, too, which is another reason why they have become so popular. What cargo containers do not have, however, is the stability that regular steel buildings do. This because recycled cargo containers are recycled, and therefore will not last as long as steel buildings because they have already been in use for a long time, usually decades.
In the final analysis, steel buildings clearly pull ahead of recycled cargo containers because of their stability, their endurance, and the fact that steel buildings take the green cake over cargo containers. It is better to have a building that is made from recycled materials that will last a long time than to have a used building that may fall apart at any moment.