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Forget Big-Box Stores. How About A Big-Box House?

May 30, 2012

When it comes to architecture, sustainability and affordability can mean many things: Salvaged wood becomes new flooring, old newspapers are shredded into insulation.

But a few architects are taking green building one step further: creating entire homes and businesses out of discarded shipping containers — an approach some have dubbed "cargotecture."

Approximately a quarter-million shipping containers pass through Oregon's Port of Portland each year. These are big boxes — 40 feet long and weighing thousands of pounds.

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America is the land of opportunity — that's the bedrock of the American dream. Many expect each generation to do better than the last.

That dream of economic mobility is alive and well for Pam Krank and her husband, Brian McGee. The two are proud owners of The Credit Department Inc., a successful business in the Minneapolis suburb of Mendota Heights.

"Mostly manufacturing companies around the world will hire us to study their customers and tell them how much ... unsecured credit they should grant to each customer," Krank explains.

This is the first of two stories we're doing this week on organ transplants. See the second story, What Air Traffic Can Teach Us About Kidney Transplants

Ashley Dias, 26, is waiting for lungs. She has cystic fibrosis and needs a lung transplant to survive. She's got a tracheostomy tube in her neck so she can only mouth out words.

Last week, the researchers who put out the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers said their index rose in May to "its highest level since October 2007" — before the last recession began.

But when it comes to economics, there always seem to be an "on the other hand" moment coming — especially when the economy appears to be at a turning point.

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