Ou(r) Values: Why Insulation is Always Top of Mind.


Unless you’re an architect, engineer, or general contractor, you might not know what an R-value is and why it’s important. Even in the mobile hospitality sector. Especially when you’re building amazing experiences from shipping containers.

“An R-value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.” – Google

Let’s say you’re at a festival in Arizona and there are two exhibits crafted from shipping containers. The first container is not insulated. You go inside and it feels like an oven. The second container is properly insulated and is so comfortable that you might not want to leave. We’re the second container.

Here at Boxman Studios we’re more than just a shipping container company. Our goal is to make our structures as comfortable, and compliant as necessary in order to create great experiences for our clients. That’s why R-values are something we consider for every project.

Many people think that once you have a shipping container shell, you just throw some furniture inside, hang a couple of monitors, and bingo, you have a cool immersive experience. Except, if you’re at that festival in Arizona, it’s far from cool. Corrugated steel has a very low R-value.
*From left to right: An industrial inventory control at a nuclear facility. A beer taproom in Boston. A mobile chocolate retail store. Each of these spaces encounters varying climates and require varying insulation solutions.

Permanent structures in the US have to adhere to the International Building Code (IBC). Part of that code references insulation, and R-values. The idea is to make structures as air tight as possible. No heat in. No heat out. This leads to energy efficiency, and increased comfort. Different kinds of structures require different R-values. Different kinds of materials help determine an R-value, and different components of a structure all have their own R-values (roof, sides, etc.)

But here’s where it gets interesting. IBC codes don’t just apply to permanent structures. Depending on how long you’re in a city, you may have to adhere to things like R-values (or electrical, mechanical, plumbing codes.) And because of the climate variation across the US, there are different R-values for different parts of the country. Finally, some states and cities have their own codes which supersede IBC codes, in which case you’ve got to know what those are in order to adhere to them.

It’s all pretty confusing, but knowing how to make the most compliant, comfortable shipping container experience possible is what makes us different. We don’t just want to build cool things, we want to design, develop, and deploy the kinds of experiences that make our clients happy. And that means doing things right.

We do all the due-diligence necessary to ensure we’re building structures correctly. We offer a range of insulation options, and always build to the strictest code in order to ensure that tours go off without a hitch. And that whether you activate in New England or Los Angeles, your customers and your fans are comfortable.