Puerto Rico Should Rebuild with Shipping Containers

Shipping containers could be the green housing solution for Puerto Rico.CREDIT: Getty Images

Shipping containers could be the green housing solution for Puerto Rico.CREDIT: Getty Images

Puerto Rico Should Rebuild with Shipping Container Homes

SG Block offers an innovative was to build affordable, eco-friendly housing in hurry.

By Kate L. HarrisonAuthor and entrepreneur@kate_l_harrison

It is not hard to understand how large the demand is for quick, sustainable housing after natural disasters like 2017's big Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria. Yet rebuilding after a natural disaster can take years. One solution, according Paul Galvin, SG Blocks' Chairman and CEO, can be found in "the humble shipping container." These containers "have aggregated at ports around the country, collecting dust and challenging our ingenuity by their unused economic potential," he explains. Now, after many years of building, testing, and engineering -- and the blessing of the International Code Council (ICC) with an ESR number -- the company's containers can be re-used as everyday construction materials, making them "the same as a piece of wood or a single red brick."

SG Blocks, Inc. (NASDAQ: SGBX), has developed a method of transforming shipping containers into pre-fab homes that could be used to quickly provide housing in devastated areas. The company transforms each container through its GreenSteel™ process. This includes the cutting of windows and doors; sidewall removal; welding of framing, beams, and columns as the project dictates; and the use of primer and top coatings. From there, the container is delivered to a site and the finishing responsibilities are handed off to a local contractor. Alternatively, the container can be sent to an intermediary facility to be finished and then installed onsite. Pricing starts at $150 per square foot. According to a rep for the company, each structure is both earthquake and hurricane resistant.

Their recent certification by the ICC is a significant development for the company and the international construction community. This is the first time a recycled material has ever been approved and codified as a building material by the ICC. In addition, the ICC has now established a standard in this growing sector of global construction. This will help building officials to maintain quality control as the industry expands. The expectation is that the technology can now be transferred and licensed globally for faster adaptation to meet increasingly urgent housing needs around the world.

"Now when we see shipping containers stacked around the country, we see hotels, military bases, emergency housing, mobile retail, apartment buildings, and a honeycomb for storing sensitive equipment," Galvin says. "SG Blocks attracts clients that see the world in the same way: not for what it is, but for what it could be. What many people see as a raw and empty container, designers, architects and engineers are beginning to see as something new and exciting. The opportunity to pre-fabricate steel modules and install them as structures that are green, safe and economically advantageous is here. Another advantage is that doing so takes half the time with a much smaller carbon footprint."

SG Blocks' clients include top brands such as Lacoste, Puma, Mini Cooper, Aman Hotels, Taco Bell, Marriott, Starbucks, Equinox and the U.S. Military, among others. The client list spans a wide-range of industries, with more joining each month. "We hope to spur the use of greener and faster means of delivering the structures of tomorrow," Galvin notes. For places like Puerto Rico, where 80-90% of the homes were destroyed this autumn, tomorrow can't come soon enough.

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