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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    We are doing a medium scale project using 65+ containers to form small eateries, shops etc.

    I understand they're not the greenest and better off melting the containers and so on but the project is set, shipping containers it is.

    What is the greenest/(fastest/cheapest) way to insulate and board without minimising space? EWI is off as the facade is to be shipping containers.

    I was thinking Insulated PB foamed on and only using PB fixing and giving then end users weight constraints etc.

    Or perhaps OSB board foamed on to the insulation?

    Must obviously meet Building regs.
    I really worry about IWI on steel. Read, for example, the installation guidelines from one of the main purveyors of PIR, and these stress the need to remove impermeable paint etc from behind the IWI, the implication being that you will (try to!) totally block moisture coming inwards, so you need to keep a passage outwards. Yes, this is relating mainly to masonry, but if you take it that the VCL in the containers will *not* be 100% 'tight', then the next thing the WV hits is a functionally impermeable cold thing.

    I suppose you could do EWI and clad it with the cut-off sides of shipping containers.... :)
    Icynene is sometimes used but if the surface it is sprayed onto is cold it pulls away.
    Following on from my post above, and for the sake of even-handedness, on the other hand, lots and lots of narrow-boats have used spray-foam for a great many years.... It still doesn't mean it does not make me nervous, though!
    • CommentTimeJan 13th 2018
    We used to bond and encapsulate many different materials into many different polymers.
    There is quite a bit of science involved and it usually involves a bonding layer. Ideally that bonding layer has a molecule that chemically attaches to steel at one end, and a molecule that chemically attached to the polymer at the other end. These tend to be expensive and have mechanical limitations i.e. temperature range and moisture range.
    The usual method is to rely on mechanical bonding. So shot blasting the steel, painting with a PU paint, then spraying on a PU foam.

    Using shipping container is only really viable when the price of scrap metal is low.

    One problem is that once the project is underway, it is hard to stop and change materials.
    Anyone like to make a stab at an un-insulated 'base-case' U value for an 'untreated' shipping container?
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2018
    Thanks djh. Have I missed an actual figure, though, rather than just awful?
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2018 edited
    It's a bit like a single-glazed window - the U-value is completely dominated by the boundary layers of air. The conductivity of steel is about 50 W/m.K and containers are made from 2 mm thick sheet, or thinner, so the resistance of the steel itself is 0.002/50 = 0.00004 m.K/W. So the actual resistance is dominated by the internal and external air layers = 0.13 + 0.00004 + 0.04 = 0.17004 and the U-value is 1/0.17004 = 5.88 W/m²K and a bit more for the roof and less for the floor.

    edit: corrected units
    Thanks djh - as I thought.

    Something I'm working on has just suggested a container office.

    This one on eBay insulated with Celotex/Rockwool

    Does sprayfoam insulation prevent the condensation issues?
    It might, I think, if it were 100% impermeable either throughout or on the surface, and if there were 100%-efficient adhesion with no voids. Perhaps I am a pessimist!
    So what method do they use for insulation when you get insulated anti-vandal offices?
    • CommentAuthorfinnian
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2018
    Wouldn't the principle to be to insulate internally, but leave a ventilated gap (like in a rainscreen) between the insulation and the steel? that shouldn't be too hard if using rigid insulation as the ridges on a shipping container already provide ready made channels. Most ISO shipping containers apparently already have small vents built into them.

    So a robust solution for the walls might be as simple as installing usual rigid insulation but routing some airflow channels on the back of them.
    • CommentAuthorbarney
    • CommentTimeOct 26th 2018
    Typically, they would either be closed cell spray foam applied after the framing and before the panel installation or use steel faced pre insulated panels on a simple framing system

    The one I'm sitting in at the moment is the latter type - the panels are made with a finished outer skin panel and a simple zintec inner panel - the two are brought together in a frame and blown with expanding foam into the gap - the frame stops uncontrolled expansion so the panel doesn't distort - they are then taken out once cured and assembled into the framing system with a simple gasket and bead joint

    The panels are about the same size as an 8' x4' sheet - similar on the ceiling so the number of joints is minimal

    I can't specifically see if the void between the panels and the container is ventilated by design - but there are vents on the external face that looklike they have been added to the original container (you can buy vent kits for them for their intended use)

    In the standard format, I don't think they have vents - certainly when I was involved with examining fire fighting procedures for stored materials in containers, knocking a small circular hole through the door and applying a 40bar water jet would leave a very wet container - they didn't appear to drain


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