In this article, we will take a closer look at the environmental impact of Boxabl homes, examining the materials and processes used in their construction, the energy they consume, and the waste they generate.
We will also explore some ways homes can be made more environmentally friendly and provide tips and resources for those interested in building or buying a sustainable home:
Why Boxabl Homes Might NOT be Environmentally Friendly:
Because we don’t know enough about Boxabl home construction, it is hard to say they are environmentally friendly. Their use of concrete, steel, EPS foam, and laminate panels, and their shipping costs and carbon emissions, may put their carbon emissions on par with other normal home manufacturers.
How Environmentally Friendly are Basic Boxabl Homes?
Their website states Boxable homes can be compatible with most utility hookups.
That could include solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, composting and recycling, a smart thermostat, etc.
Depending on how you want to outfit your home, your Boxabl home should be able to accommodate it.
The home itself is not necessarily eco-friendly. While it is made of good materials (such as steel, concrete, and EPS foam) and supposedly has good insulation, it is more financially friendly than eco-friendly.
However, it comes outfitted with LED lighting, which might ease your mind regarding energy use and cost.
If you want your Boxabl home to be eco-friendly, you may have to do the legwork yourself.
Is Boxabl Production Carbon Neutral?
It is difficult to provide a specific estimate of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with Boxabl without knowing the details. Still, it can be assumed that they use quite a bit like any other house-building manufacturer.
Generally, manufacturing building materials, such as steel and concrete, can be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, as it typically involves burning fossil fuels.
Transporting materials to the building site and the construction process can also contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.
We don’t know much about Boxabl’s carbon footprint yet, but we can make a few assumptions:
Because Boxabl uses steel and concrete in its construction and does not include energy-efficient add-ons for the buyer, the materials may not be as environmentally friendly as we hope.
Production of cement — one of the main ingredients in concrete — involves burning fossil fuels which lead to higher levels of CO2 in our atmosphere; however, through thoughtful design strategies that minimize its use, concrete can be environmentally friendly when recycled or reused.
Steel is very energy efficient during production but can produce large amounts of air pollutants if the manufacturing process is not done correctly.
Therefore, these strong materials might not be as carbon-neutral as we would like.
Shipping & Gas:
Furthermore, shipping your Boxabl house cross-country can eat up gas and emit a considerable amount of carbon dioxide into the air.
We already know Boxabl is made in Las Vegas, so imagine shipping your new home to Maine. If you live in Portland, Maine, the shipping distance is about 2,814.1 miles.
As a general rule of thumb, it is safe to assume that the larger and heavier the home, the more gas will be required to transport it. Additionally, the efficiency of the vehicle and the road conditions along the route will also play a role in determining the amount of gas required for the trip.
But even with general math, we can assume that it would cost an average of somewhere between 100 – 115 gallons of gas to get from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Portland, Maine.
That could equate to about 2,194 pounds of CO2 emissions alone.
Being More Environmentally Conscious:
Building and obtaining materials locally to minimize shipping emissions is a great way for a company to be more environmentally conscious.
Reclaimed and recycled building materials, such as bricks and doors, can also reduce new material production.
Further steps include:
- Choosing energy-efficient insulated systems for the walls and roofing.
- Optimizing natural lighting and passive solar techniques for heating and cooling.
- Incorporating renewable energy sources such as solar roof panels or a geothermal water source heat pump system.
- Utilizing technologies such as green roofs or rainwater harvesting systems for sustainable landscaping.
- Ensuring proper waste management during the planning and construction process.
Should Boxabl use or adopt any of these methods in its manufacturing process, we could assume that they are a possibly environmentally-friendly company.
However, as we don’t know many details, we can only assume they are similar to other companies.
What Materials are Being Used for Boxabl Houses?
According to the Boxabl website, Boxable homes are made of steel, laminated panels, concrete, and EPS foam.
EPS foam is a type of insulation that is made from expanded polystyrene. EPS foam is commonly used in construction projects to reduce heat loss.
While EPS foam has some benefits, it is not necessarily good for the environment.
One of the main concerns with EPS foam is that it is not biodegradable, meaning it can take hundreds of years to break down.
As a result, EPS foam can contribute to litter and pollution if not properly disposed of.
In addition, Boxabl’s walls, floors, and roof are made from structurally laminated panels.
Laminated house panels are commonly used in prefabricated homes because they are strong, lightweight, and easy to transport, making them ideal for building homes off-site and then transporting them to the building site.
However, they are not necessarily carbon-neutral, either.
For example, suppose the lamination involves bonding multiple layers of wood or other natural materials. In that case, it is possible that the lamination could biodegrade over time, depending on the specific conditions it is exposed to.
However, if the lamination involves synthetic materials, such as plastic, it is unlikely that the lamination will biodegrade, as these materials are typically not biodegradable.
Steel & Concrete:
Furthermore, as we have mentioned, steel and concrete could be more environmentally friendly if sourced locally in the United States.
Still, the desire for cheap materials means that most companies import internationally.
Because of international imports, lack of biodegradability, and the possibility that Boxabl uses synthetic materials in their walls (which we cannot confirm or deny without more information), it is likely that the construction materials for Boxabl homes are not entirely environmentally friendly.
Where are Boxabl Materials Sourced From?
Boxabl may import steel and concrete from other countries, depending on several factors, such as the availability of raw materials and the cost of production.
In some cases, it may be more economical for Boxabl to import steel or concrete from another country rather than sourcing it domestically. However, the United States is a major producer of both steel and concrete, so it is also likely Boxabl will source these materials domestically.
Steel is made from iron ore, which Boxabl could receive from many states, including Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Concrete is made from a mixture of materials, including cement, typically made from limestone. Limestone can be found in many states, including Texas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
If they were to get it internationally, shipping materials over long distances could significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, typically involving burning fossil fuels to power vehicles.
However, the exact carbon footprint of shipping concrete and steel internationally will depend on the specific details of the shipping process.
The problem is that we don’t know where Boxabl is getting its shipments from, so while we hope it is a domestic source, it could be international.
How Long are Boxabl Homes Expected to Last?
Because Boxabl is a new company – only beginning sometime around 2017 – we don’t know exactly how well they will hold up in the future. However, we can get an idea due to the nature of their construction materials.
Concrete and steel homes can last for many decades, with some homes lasting more than 100 years.
This is because concrete is a durable and long-lasting material, and when properly reinforced with steel, it can provide a strong and stable structure for a home.
The exact lifespan of a concrete or steel home will depend on several factors, including the quality of the materials used, the design and construction of the home, and the maintenance and care provided over the years.
Also, because Boxabl doesn’t come with a prepackaged foundation or add-ons, we only suppose that the basic structure will last about 100 years.
It is important to note that the homeowner’s foundation, add-ons, and ability to care for their home can greatly change its lifespan.