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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Milan Bruncvik

Comparative Study of Resource Efficiency of Shipping Container Based Homes

ABSTRACT
This thesis analyses the shipping container architecture and the conversion of shipping containers into homes. Striving to answer the key question whether or not: Is the conversion of shipping containers and their use in shipping container architecture an efficient way how to deal with shipping container excess?
The method to reach that goal starts with definition of research areas: #1 new shipping container, #2 used shipping container, #3 typical UK house and #4 typical US house that would be compared to each other. They all were assessed with respect to their cost ($) and the energy embodied in them (kWh). The operating energy (energy in use or running energy) of research areas was not considered. In order to ensure a proper comparison both the cost and embodied energy was recalculated per floor area producing two important criterions: cost per meter squared ($/m2) and embodied energy per meter squared (kWh/m2). The analysis of those criterions then produced the final results:
Utilization of used shipping containers in shipping container architecture represents an efficient way how to deal with shipping containers excess. The difference in embodied energy 387 kWh/m2 between a used shipping container (478 kWh/m2) and a typical UK house (865 kWh/m2) represents almost 45% savings. Likewise, the difference 194 kWh/m2 between a used shipping container (478 kWh/m2) and a typical US house (672 kWh/m2) still represents about 29% savings in embodied energy.
The use of new shipping containers in shipping container architecture is from the energy point of view very similar to conventional construction. The embodied energy is almost the same for both a new shipping container (855 kWh/m2) and (865 kWh/m2) a typical UK house.