Starbucks is about to open a Seattle-area store made mostly out of four upcycled shipping containers, the New York Times reports.
The prototype – unusual for Starbucks in that it is take-out only – may be followed by more container-based stores, company spokesman Alan Hilowitz said.
He said Starbucks was attracted to the idea of re-using the containers that transport its tea and coffee from abroad, and also liked the portability of the construction. If a given site is only available for two or three years, the company could put a container-based store there, then break it down and move it somewhere else.
Starbucks is not the first company to appropriate shipping containers for building use. In October 2010 Clif Bar & Company unveiled a new HQ that uses repurposed materials from shipping container wood to blue jeans. The 115,000-square-foot former valve manufacturing plant was also one of the first buildings in the state to follow the 2008 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards, and features a “smart” solar array to supply nearly all of the building’s electricity needs.
Peter DeMaria, principal of DeMaria Design Associates, said the U.S. gains millions of used containers every year because of its trade imbalance with China, and using them in construction takes a fraction of the energy of using virgin steel.
In its Global Responsibility Report this spring, Starbucks said it is on track to meet a goal that beginning in December 2010, all new, company-owned stores will be built to achieve LEED certification. Last year it completed the pilot phase for LEED volume certification, with ten store design and construction projects audited and approved by the U.S. Green Building Council.