Posts Tagged ‘shipping containers’

Sourcing the Best Shipping Container: Top Ten US Ports

Shipping ContainersIf you are in the market for a shipping container or have already acquired a shipping container, it is helpful to understand where shipping containers come from.

Whether a new “one-trip” container or a used container, shipping containers start their life in Asia and are shipped by boat to the United States. Excess shipping containers arrive in U.S. ports and are stored in terminals and depots adjacent to the ports.


PortsSince shipping containers in the U.S. are sourced from ports, it is helpful to know which ports in the U.S. have the largest volumes of shipping traffic. This important as the volume of shipping traffic affects the both the pricing and availability of shipping containers in your area.

At Container Alliance, we have created lasting relationships with the biggest and best shipping lines and leasing companies in the industry and are very careful in the products that we select.


As presented in National Real Estate Investor, the Top 10 US Ports are:


Shipping Container in a Port

10. Port Everglades, FL

9. Tacoma, WA

8. Charleston, SC

7. Oakland, CA

6. Houston, TX

5. Norfolk, VA

4. Seattle, WA

3. Savannah, GA

2. New York, NY

1. Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA

Excess shipping containers have a wide variety of applications outside of shipping. These applications include being used for offices, residences, and storage. At Container Alliance, we are proud to offer a number of sizes and types of ship containers for sale or rent. We also offer a wide range of custom container modifications.

Please call us at (800) 386-2345 to talk to a sales rep or fill out a quote.

In the Energy Industry? Shipping Containers are the Perfect Solution

refinery-514010_640Modified storage containers are the perfect solution to the unique and challenging demands of the oil industry.

The continuing oil boom in North Dakota clearly illustrates the myriad challenges the oil industry faces in ensuring success. While the challenges faced by the oil industry in North Dakota may appear to be somewhat extreme, they are not unique and are endemic to the industry.

The issues associated with the oil boom in North Dakota have been well documented, as the explosive growth that the oil industry has brought has also been accompanied by chronic housing shortages, overcrowded and over taxed public services, and security issues. These issues directly speak to the challenges the oil industry faces in creating and supporting functional work sites in remote areas with limited infrastructure.

Shipping containers are the ideal choice to meet these needs because they are durable, portable, secure, and easily customizable.

Durable and Portable

shipping container in oil and gas industryThe oil and gas industry works in some of most extreme environments in the world and North Dakota is no exception. Placing equipment, housing, and office space becomes extra difficult in such environments and the durability and portability of shipping containers are uniquely suited to address these challenges.

Shipping containers are manufactured from corten steel and are guaranteed to be wind and water-tight. They stand up to the rigors of being transported to remote locations and are easily placed on-site with less requirements for set up than more traditional modular options.


Safe and Secure

shipping containers in the oil and gas industryThe oil industry’s move into North Dakota has been marked by huge investment into expanding oil and natural gas production. As with any large-scale construction or large-scale industrial project, this investment has been accompanied by a huge amount of equipment, machinery, and construction tools.

All of these equipment and tools require storage, especially given the harsh physical environment of North Dakota. The presence of such large amounts of equipment and machinery raises the question of security of these tools. A shipping container is the perfect solution for ensuring the security of valuable goods. Made of corten steel and with limited and secure access points, modified storage containers are inherently secure and can be easily modified with security accessories to be made even more secure.



shipping containers in oil and industryAnother major issue for the oil industry in North Dakota has been that there are not enough buildings available to meet demand. The lack of available buildings are a consequence of the oil and gas industry’s tendency to work in remote locations with small populations.

Shipping containers can be easily modified to meet the demand for more buildings and serve a variety of different applications, like portable office containers. The demand for new buildings in the oil industry encompasses every aspect of life; ranging from housing to offices to school buildings to laundry and bathroom facilities. Shipping containers are best suited to meet these needs because they can be modified off-site and quickly placed on-site. Using shipping containers allows clients to avoid many of the problems and costs associated with doing construction in remote and difficult locations.


The challenges faced in North Dakota are truly universal in the oil industry, our partner companies in Texas and Missouri have also worked with the oil industry to address many of the same challenges. See their solutions here and here.

Container Alliance is a network of shipping container sellers all around the United States. To get started with renting or buying a shipping container today for use in the oil and gas industry or one of the hundreds of other applications, contact us today by calling 800-386-2345 or get a quote now.


The Box That Revolutionized International Trade

A Brief History of the Shipping Container

Shipping containers don’t have a very complex past—that’s because as soon as the world realized how much more efficient it was to pack and stack cargo than to ship it loosely, the profit increases were too incredible to deny. 

The shipping container revolutionized the world trade industry by amplifying efficiency of shipping. Prior to the popularization of containerization, goods traveled the seas loosely on cargo ships. When the world shipping industry realized that this was far from the best way to transport goods, contributing to globalization in a major way.

Cargo Ship

Photo Courtesy of Dendroica Cerulea 

North Carolina trucking entrepreneur Malcolm McLean thought up the shipping container, popularizing it in a way never done before with similar structures. The first overseas trip using containers in 1956, according to The Economist, cost McLean only $0.16 per ton to load, as opposed to the whopping $5.83 per ton to load that people were paying when shipping cargo loosely. Combined with speedier loading and unloading of products, retail prices saw massive decreases. Everyone won.

Widespread use of the modern shipping container took a few years to take off, but it sure did. Between 1966 and 1983 the share of countries with container ports rose from 1 percent to almost 90 percent. Ports got larger, both in the US and abroad, allowing more trade with more places. This international expansion aptly corresponded with a major period of economic growth in China. Looking at the United States’ trade relationship with China today, the increased efficiency provided by the shipping container was monumentally beneficial to both parties.

Cargo Ship 2

Photo Courtesy of International Labour Organization

Before McLean popularized the shipping container that’s now a staple in modern industry, similar structures were used to transport goods by both land and sea.

The life of the shipping container:

1795: Horse-drawn wagons in the form of containers carry coal through mining regions of England

1830s: English railroads begin carrying semi-portable containers

1929: Seatran Lines carries railroad boxcars on ships between new York and Cuba

1940s: US Army uses containers to load and unload ships during World War II

1956: Malcolm McLean’s first shipping container takes its inaugural voyage

2006: California architect Peter DeMaria creates the first shipping container home in Redondo Beach


To rent or buy a new or used shipping container today, call Container Alliance at 800-386-2345 or email us at Get a quote now.

Shipping Containers: Your Solution for Cramped Student Housing

College degrees have never been more in demand, and accommodating the huge waves of new students with living space can grow costly and complicated.

Architects and designers around the world know that storage container living makes both a sustainable and attractive solution for situations where space is tight.

The college dormitory is a classic circumstance in which a simple shipping container can make the construction of student housing a lot more seamless. When a freshman class is larger than expected, university planners are forced to either pack students like sardines in existing structures—oftentimes putting three occupants in rooms that are designed to be doubles—or begin the complicated and expensive process of building new traditional dorm structures from the ground. Save time and money with shipping container dorms!

Several universities in Europe, as well as one in South Africa, have discovered the possibilities of turning shipping containers into fully functioning living spaces for college students. Schools worldwide are faced with the task of housing thousands of students, calling for cost-efficient and space-efficient architectural solutions.

Shipping containers fit the bill—and then some. Not only do they allow developers to save money and space; they also promise security and durability, lasting for years with minimal upkeep. Containers are also easy to transport.

See how architects around the world have utilized shipping containers to contain their students.


Exclusively using abandoned and recycled materials, a group called Citiq Developments has turned unused grain silos into student housing for 400 students. They perched four stories of stacked shipping containers atop the silos in this project called Mill Junction in Johannesburg.

The eco-friendly nature of this building’s structure doesn’t stop on the outside. Citiq estimates the building’s features to decrease energy by 50 percent in comparison to a conventional building. The indispensible shipping container parts of the greater structure allow for long-standing sustainability that matches this energy-conserving efficiency.

Supplemental to the basic living spaces inside of the containers are communal kitchens, Wi-Fi, study space, a gym, and other recreation rooms. A colorful and inviting roof offers more lounge space, allowing for sprawling views of the city. This is not the first or last shipping container housing project in Johannesburg, but it still serves as an innovative example of the extent to which shipping containers prove to be logical design solutions.



CROU is another example of student housing transformed with shipping container dorms. This structure took “going green” to a couple different levels, recycling used containers to hold its students as well as choosing containers that are literally green. The structure is also designed to save 20 percent more energy than normal structures.

Olgga Architects created “CROU” in Le Havre, France, arranging 100 shipping containers into pyramid-like structures. Each individual container makes one room for a student, including a kitchenette, dining area, bathroom, desk, and bed, utilizing the seemingly small space into comfortable storage container living with everything student life requires.

Le Havre is also home to the second busiest port in France, making it no surprise that “CROU” is not the only shipping container student housing project in the city. Hundreds of shipping containers become available portside after their original jobs are done.


Cité a Docks is a four-story building in this same city, also turning 100 shipping containers into student apartments. Cattani Architects equipped each 258 square-foot room with bathrooms, kitchens, free Wi-Fi, and heat and sound insulation. The effective arrangement of the containers counteracted potential fallouts of container structures, allowing for strategically placed open spaces and common areas.

Although this container complex is painted in what many would perceive as a dreary gray, the architects say that the metal structure allows for easier distinguishing between the different containers, making for a cohesively attractive total design.



A Dutch developer was presented with the project of creating homes for an influx of students left on their Amsterdam university’s housing waiting list, but on a site that required relocation after five years. With a need for stable housing with convenient mobility, he turned to none other than shipping containers as his primary building blocks for the structure.

This developer, Quinten De Gooijer, took the idea of sustainable storage container living to the next level, converting not 100 but 1,000 containers into individual apartments rentable to students. He aimed to create eco-friendly, affordable housing for Dutch students without sacrificing quality.

At full price, students can rent a container at about $600 per month with all utilities included, and with the government rent subsidies that students are entitled to; the rent is only about $400 per month. As this price is for the entire container, perfectly adequate living space, the model of housing allows students to live comfortably for affordable prices without roommates.


Whether you need to house 1,000 students or just want your own sustainable and portable living space, consider purchasing a new or used container to create the home right for you. Container Alliance can hook you up with a new or used container with the modifications needed to make your container your own.

They Made a City of Containers—And You Can Too:
Utilizing Containers for Retail

A group of developers in San Andrés Cholula, Mexico has taken the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) to a new level. The innovative designers have created a “city” with buildings made strictly with recycled shipping containers and topped them off with a plethora of reused materials.

“Los containers,” as it’s called by the locals, prides itself on principles of sustainability and style, maintaining a vibrantly cohesive design throughout its connected art galleries, restaurants, bars, boutiques, bakeries, dry cleaner and bus depot—all inside of shipping containers.

This 50,000-square-foot strip mall has all the makings of a hip hangout spot for anyone looking to spend a leisurely yet unconventional afternoon or evening.

Can’t make it down to Mexico? Take a few cues from Container City’s groundbreaking ideas in container renovation to learn how salvaged shipping containers are more of a solution than a compromise. Their out-of-the-box thinking reverberates and keeps customers coming—the idea is a hit. No matter the scale of your retail needs, containers make perfect structures for the aspiring restaurateur or pop-up shopper.

Container City street view

Here’s why:

1. Distinction. A container on the street dressed up as a café stands out from other buildings, and for a positive reason. In today’s age of amplified green-consciousness, people appreciate efforts at sustainability. Reusing containers reduces the waste of them. Not only will most people acknowledge this, they’re likely to be curious as to what’s inside the repurposed container.

 2. Portability. For someone trying to open up shop with little money, a permanent location is usually hard to find. If your retail space is in a container, however, it can move around just as easily as you can. The weather-resistant nature of containers also makes them functional anywhere from Florida to Alaska.

 3. Customizability. Unless you would prefer to receive it as-is, we can modify your container to suit you or your brand’s individual needs. A container can be equipped with heat/AC fixtures, roll-up doors, windows, skylights, shelves—and if we haven’t done it before, we’ll work with you to make the container the perfect space for whatever you’re selling.

Top 10 Coolest Container Structures

10.    PUMA City, Shipping Container Store – LOT-EK

 PUMA City 1

The Puma container store features 24 containers, is three stories high, and makes up 11,000-square-feet.  This project, known as Puma City, definitely deserves a spot in the top ten.  Designed and constructed by the NYC/Napoli based office LOT-EK, the Puma container store was created by a practice that has been known for their projects involving used shipping containers. Though it was created back in September 2008, this project opened up new ideas to shipping container companies around the globe.  The whole concept of Puma City was to make it eco-friendly while making it mobile; this shipping container structure, made of 24 refurbished containers are totally dismountable, making it mobile and being able to be shipped to any location needed.   With three floors including two decks and a bar/lounge with lower lighting completes the whole look of Puma City being given a bigger feel of durability than just a prefabricated structure that can be easily folded up and moved around.

PUMA City 2


9.      Starbucks: Reclamation Drive-Thru


With a LEED-certification in hand with stores all across the United States, Starbucks Coffee knew they had to do something green soon to put their new certification into use.  Right outside their headquarters in Seattle is a shipping container yard, which actually inspired Starbucks to start what they call “Reclamation Drive-Thru”.  Starbucks had already been using shipping containers for a while to import tea and coffee from around the world. However, many of the like-new shipping containers that were used to import Starbucks’ materials are forced into scrap yards like the one outside the Starbucks Headquarters. The Reclamation Drive-Thru project was inspired by this concept of keeping these shipping containers already throughout Starbucks’s supply chain and out of a one-time use waste stream.  The innovative structure consists of a 450-square-foot drive-thru and walk-up styled store made with refurbished shipping containers.  This Starbucks store is made up four refurbished shipping containers, though one of them is a 20-foot container used for garbage, storage and recycling.


8.      Caterpillar House – Santiago, Chile


On a hillside overlooking the Andes Mountains just outside Chile’s capital city, Santiago resides a house made out of shipping containers known as the Caterpillar House. This property measures at about 3,800-square-feet with a grand total of 12 refurbished shipping containers (five 40-foot units and six 20-foot units) and then an open top container used as a swimming pool.  Some of the containers are at an angle because they wanted the shipping container structure to flow with the scenery around it as much as possible, so the home actually slopes against the hillside.


Adding on to the endless features to this eco-friendly house are the multiple windows, skylights, and adjoining pieces put together with the containers.  Instead of an expensive, energy-sucking, air conditioning unit, the Caterpillar House features passive cooling which is distinctively made to make full used of the natural cool air that comes down the mountains—which will eventually pass through all the windows, doors and ventilated façade of the Caterpillar House.  Given the size, location, and features of this house, the Caterpillar House uses the most model level of home energy requirements to where not much money is being spent, but being saved.


7.      Hurley H20 Campaign – 2012 US Open of Surfing

The US Open of Surfing is a surf competition that happens every year at the end of July in Huntington Beach, California. Shipping Containers are usually a prime option to use for these types of events because of their design, durability, and mobility.  Nike sponsored the 2012 US Open and Hurley, being owned by Nike, launched their H20 clean water campaign.  For this, a booth was designed for the event to inspire water activism and push for cleaner water.  Again, refurbished shipping containers were used to create this booth, which was used as a water-filling station where thousands of fans of the US Open could come up and refill their reusable water bottles.  The company IPME (Innovations, Projects, Management & Equipment) gave the refurbished used shipping container that was used in the making of the Hurley water station.  The Hurley H20 booth was also used in the Hurley Pro in late September of that year.


hurley h2o

6. Shipping Container Hotel 

Although currently on a winter break, “Sleeping Around” is group of 20-foot shipping containers turned into luxury hotel rooms. The hotel boasts its portability, explaining on its website that although it’s currently in Antwerp, Belgium, it can and will go anywhere. This movability is paired with an ecological essence—it’s a hotel made of recycled containers with “ecologically responsible” materials inside. These qualities may attract many eager guests, but “Sleeping Around” is an exclusive activity; there are only four hotel rooms, a breakfast/lounge container, and a sauna container, making it the ultimate cool container setup. After the pop-up hotel’s winter break, the rooms are available for booking on Sleeping Around’s website (

 Sleeping Around

Photo from


5. Illy Pop-up House

 Italian coffee-makers Illy Café created a five-room home recently—that opens up like a lily and then folds back into its compact size. The core material? A shipping container. Illy Café unveiled this pop-up house in 2007 to promote its espresso-making method of coffee packaged in small capsules, while displaying sustainability by using a recycled shipping container. The attractively cohesive design of this shipping container structure, in conjunction with its unique portability, ignited significant buzz upon the pop-up shop’s 2007 debut.


Photos from


4. Ecopods

Whether you are looking for a fully-functioning living space or just an area to lounge, Ecopods can provide an eco-friendly pod to get the job done. It operates with an 80-watt solar panel and therefore saves you from the rising prices of electricity. Like all other cool container-made structures, Ecopods are completely portable. The company caters to customers seeking both residential and commercial space.


Photo from


3. Cove Park Cubes

A very green (literally) artist retreat met the sustainability of a shipping container structure in western Scotland’s Cove Park, a year-round retreat for artists to gain inspiration. The artists can choose to live in pods formerly used on BBC’s “Castaway 2000” TV show or cubes converted from freight containers. The container cubes double as living and working spaces for the artists, including decked balconies that overlook the stunning Loch Long Sea.

Cove Park

Photo from


2. BBC Broadcasting Studios

 BBC Studios 1

BBC has built two studios on top of 18 shipping containers in London, a traditional building perched on a three-story container structure. BBC was keen to build this new structure with environmental impact in mind, hiring Container City for the task. Given the global prominence of BBC for both entertainment and journalism, the company’s choice of shipping containers for one of their major buildings brings new international light to the architectural concept.

BBC Studios 2

Photos from


1. ECOntainerBridge

Aiming to provide a gateway to Ariel Shannon National Park of Israel, this colorful construction will put together recycled steel shipping containers to form a tunnel-style bridge. The minds behind the plan, Yoav Messer Architects, vowed to do all of the construction off-site so as to avoid damaging the natural beauty of the site. “From a conglomeration of waste to a lifeline,” says the architect group on their website about the bridge. The bridge will accommodate pedestrians, bikers, and shuttle vehicles.


Photo from