Shipping containers are stacking up at our ports and are truly both a waste product and an excellent building material. They are waterproof, and very strong.
Refrigeration containers are aluminum and insulated but not as sturdy. A better way to go is to insulate a steel one. They are 20'x8'x8'6" high. Many of us have been amazed at how long it has taken for builders and architects to discover this wonderful modular building option.
The architect that has the most thoughtful designs I have seen for container architecture is Walter Scott Perry. He is developing an extremely sophisticated system of stacking, insulating and framing containers. Permitted in California, his system is very thorough.
It is important to shade the steel structures to reduce heat island effect and also to limit heat build-up inside and reduce energy cost. The best way to build a container structure is under shop conditions and then erect it onsite. This is how Ecotech container systems are made. The cost of their container systems for residences is approximately $100 a square foot.
The embodied energy in containers stacked up around the world is significant and they are sitting at ports rusting away, creating a visual blight and local community concerns. This issue can truly end with a positive and happy win-win situation. Bravo for building with containers!