Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Eco-Friendly Homes

Ever think about building your own affordable, energy-efficient home that could withstand anything, come hell or high water and still be an ecological purist. I know, you're thinking of prefab. But the problem with the prefab movement is that it, like most new construction, typically uses less-than-sustainable resources, like steel and wood. (True factory production could indeed reduce our ecological footprint by eliminating the waste typical of construction, but that's still quite far from reality.) And the problem with environmentally sound but old-fashioned building techniques is that they require too much time and skilled labor to solve our society's need for affordable green housing on a grand scale.

Well there may be a solution to scouring the earth for the magic bullet in home building, and that solution may be the weird, pragmatic beauty of the used shipping container. Cheap, strong and easily transportable by boat, truck or train, these big steel structures now litter the ports of America as mementos of our Asian-trade imbalance. (Many more full containers arrive on our shores than depart, so ports either ship them back empty -- to the tune of about $900 per -- or sell them.)

Hurricane proof, flood proof, fire proof, these metal Lego blocks are tough enough to be stacked 12-high empty -- and thus can be used in smaller multistory buildings. Used containers (which can be picked up for $1,500 to $2,000) often have teak floors and sometimes are insulated. The bright orange, blue and rust corrugated boxes may not appeal to everyone. But contemporary hipsters find them not just the ultimate in postmodern appropriation but aesthetically pleasing as well.

The idea is not new. Examples of designers incorporating shipping containers into residential designs date back to 1982. Lately though, a field known as container architecture has evolved, offering the hope that what was once only a post-industrial pipe dream can emerge as a practical new building form. A handful of architectural firms around the world -- from New York to New Zealand -- have built prototypes or plans for shipping-container homes. You can learn more at: www.treehugger.com/files/2005/01/shipping_contai.php

Here's a poem why you decide on an interior decorator:

Harry Houdini On Holiday

In the poem version about the untied military boots war breaks out in a
virtual car chase allowing vandals a bumper-sticker of green lights for miles
before the night is lit-up by artillery fire.

Two sacred mounds of prickly hats are blindfolded then forced to stand before
the hangman's noose where scat looks like a lavish Hollywood movie where
identity theft grows up to be urban blight's stage prop.

The blindfolds don't care. Neither does bird flu. It brings a twig to the empty
c-cup then brides porcupine quills to boycott any notice of amnesty, so long as
those little metal weighs are still sown in buttons of window drapes.

This poem first appeared online at: www.foame.org
Copyright 2007 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.
Visit my e-zine at: www.concelebratory.blogspot.com
And music blog at: www.medleymakersant.blogspot.com

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