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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Inspiration-How a Delhi Startup Is Turning Old Shipping Containers Into Eco-Friendly Schools and Buildings.

Learning can happen anywhere, some wise folks may say. Aadhan, a Delhi-based social enterprise founded by Nikhil Dugal and Akshat Goel, has interpreted the adage in a way you have never seen before.Aadhan builds classrooms — and a host of other spaces — from discarded shipping containers.

Aadhan is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘box,’ an apt name for the startup that unleashes the design potential of boxed spaces. Shipping containers are unlikely to come in mind when one thinks classrooms, or homes, but the Aadhan team considers it to have many advantages over traditional brick-and-mortar structures.

“We found that containers were already being used in India, as temporary offices for construction sites,” Nikhil says. But there were two major drawbacks. The shipping containers weren’t always old — some construction sites even had it built from scratch leading to a lot of energy consumption. They also did not take contamination measures, which was harmful for people living and working regularly in these spaces.”

Founded in 2015, Aadhan took an eco-friendly approach to container space keeping in mind everything the co-founders had learnt during their research.
The base materials for these spaces are shipping containers that have been retired from the sea

Moreover, using these containers helps to prevent industrial wastage. According to the Aadhan team, every container used prevents around 1.3 tonnes of Corten Steel from being scrapped, and uses only about 400KWh of energy. In comparison, scrapping an entire container uses about 8,000 kWh.

The company offers turnkey solutions to its customers, including design, fabrication, delivery and installation. Promoting complete sustainability, the company also enhances these spaces with solar energy or dry toilets on request.

Along with building spaces, Aadhan is expanding in other areas of sustainability measures too. “A lot of people who approach us are interested in organic farming and sustainable measures. We are now hoping to develop hydroponic farms in containers,’ says Nikhil.

The team makes sure that every container-turned-space is approved for habitation and meets the eco-friendly standards of the brand. Since its start in 2015, Aadhan has won a number of awards including the Award for Innovation in Social Entrepreneurship by the Impact Investors Council, India and Top 10 TATA Social Enterprise Challenge 2016.

The need for sustainable infrastructure is more acute than ever. Whether it’s for school or homes in challenging terrains, Nikhil and Akshay offer environment-friendly solutions. As Nikhil says, “It’s a small step, but it’s an important one.”

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