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Living Off-the-Grid in a Sustainable Shipping Container Home

They Aren’t Just for Shipping Anymore.

In a few short years, shipping containers have become the basis of a new, ultra-sustainable style of architecture (aka cargotecture, a portmanteau of cargo and architecture.) It’s not hard to see why.

Shipping containers are tough, durable, and widely available for very reasonable cost. Used shipping containers sell for as little as $1,000. And repurposing an old shipping container saves over 7,000 pounds of steel from landfills.

There are other benefits to using a shipping container as building blocks. Since all containers have the same width, and come in standardized lengths and heights, you can easily apply a design across multiple homes. Builders can easily stack and combine them into a larger structure.

These homes are also easy to move from place to place. This gives homeowners the freedom to live just about anywhere – in the deep woods shrouded by trees, at the edge of an ocean-side cliff, or nestled in a valley.

Designers are already doing amazing things with shipping containers. Now, one group of builders is taking this form of architecture to the next level with a sustainable, ultra-green, off-the-grid home.

Sustainer Homes

Sustainer Homes, a start-up company from the Netherlands, has developed a prototype for an innovative shipping container home that runs exclusively on environmentally-friendly resources.

The completely self-sufficient house fits a bedroom, bathroom, full kitchen and living room into just 323 square feet of space. The interior is lined with wood-free ECOboard panels, which are made from recycled farm waste like grass and straw. All the walls and ceilings use a non-toxic, plant-based paint.

What makes the Sustainer Homes model remarkable is the fact that it is completely self-reliant. There is no need to connect to the energy grid, water, or sewer system. Instead, miniature wind turbines and solar panels power the entire house from top to bottom, and a series gutters gather rainwater. Wastewater from the sink, shower, and toilet runs through a plant-based filter six times before being sent back into the ground, where it dissolves naturally.

It may exist off-the-grid, but the home is far from being low-tech. Sustainer Homes plans to rig their houses with an onboard computer, smart thermostat, and 4G LTE modem for high speed internet.

A single home, complete with all the amenities, costs just $112,700 CDN.

Why Build with Shipping Containers?

Sustainer Homes sees their sustainable shipping container homes as the answer to the housing crisis. Like young Canadians, young people in the Netherlands are struggling to pay rising rents or enter an exorbitant housing market. Shipping container homes could provide an affordable and environmentally-alternative.

Not only are they less expensive to build, but the homes save the homeowner money. After all, a self-sustaining home has no water, electricity, or heating bills.

“Independence and sustainability define the home of tomorrow,” say the Sustainer Homes team. “We’re pioneering in all aspects of future living: modular, mobile, smart.”

Currently, the Sustainer Homes are only available in the Netherlands, as they’re built to match the Dutch climate and comply with Dutch building codes.