A private school in Costa Mesa, Calif., says it is the first in the country to recycle old shipping containers into classrooms. The Waldorf School of Orange County, which serves pre-kindergarten through high school students, used 32 modified shipping containers to expand its campus, adding four classrooms, an art studio, a life-science lab, offices and an auditorium.
The project, which was awarded with the city’s Green Design Award, boasts other eco-friendly features, such as drought-tolerant landscaping and recycled materials on boardwalks and hardscaping.
But architectural news website Arch Daily recently pointed out several drawbacks of reusing shipping containers, which may make “cargotecture” less environmentally responsible than previously assumed.
To make them more durable for ocean transport, shipping containers are coated with toxic chemicals such as lead-based paints – which may pose a health risk to future inhabitants. Arch Daily also reported that the ecological footprint of converting a shipping container into a building is higher than currently estimated, including the energy expended to sandblast the container and replace the floors, the hazardous waste produced during this process and the fossil fuels burned when transporting the container to its final destination.
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