Just 30 miles from Santa Monica, huge shipping vessels power in and out of the Port of Long Beach in California. Cranes load and unload huge shipping containers made of corrugated steel and laden with goods from across the globe.
When those containers are emptied and the products sent down the distribution lines dictated by global capitalism, the massive boxes either go back to sea or enter their own secondary market as storage facilities, temporary offices and, if Michael Bodell has his way, as homes, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
Bodell, a Santa Monica resident and former Santa Monica College art and design student, plans to launch a venture to take retired shipping containers and turn them into the pre-fab homes of the future, complete with eco-friendly certifications and some social justice thrown in for good measure.
Rather than melting the old containers down and crafting something new out of the raw materials, keeping the containers whole and refurbishing them in line with modern living standards prevents further use of energy and is, in theory, green.
Some wood is necessary to reinforce the structure, particularly after holes have been cut for windows and doors, but it takes only a tenth as much, Bodell estimated.
"Hopefully, they'll be adopted as basically the new wood," Bodell said.
Sustainable features like acid-washed concrete floors, solar panels on the roof and recycled denim insulation to replace fiberglass round out the concept, leaving the eventual buyer with a chic, LEED-certified home.
Shipping-container architecture is a relatively new concept in America, although it's been used for over a decade in Europe and some developing countries as a way to make decent homes, quickly.
Read more about building a green home.