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College of Idaho dorms made from shipping containers open to students

Two new unique dorm buildings are now open for students on the Caldwell campus.
Credit: C of I
The College of Idaho's innovative and sustainable new modular dorms are now open for students.

Students who attend the College of Idaho now have an innovative and sustainable choice for housing.

Two new dorm buildings made out of decommissioned shipping containers are now open for students on the Caldwell campus.

They are the first residence halls of their kind anywhere in the U.S.

The dormitory halls are named Sawtooth (blue trim) and Owyhee to recognize significant geographic areas in Idaho.

The new dorms were built by the Caldwell company indieDwell after the college experienced a housing crunch in 2019 and needed affordable housing that could be constructed quicker that traditional student housing.

There are now 54 new beds spread across 46 single rooms and four double rooms between the two buildings.

"This residential housing solution provides an exceptional living space for our students and is consistent with the College's desire to support sustainability of the environment," said Vice President for Finance and Administration Richard Erne. "Combining these factors with the overall economics, the new housing project fits perfectly into our residential housing program."

Each building is three stories tall and constructed out of 40-feet-by-8-feet shipping containers weighing 16,000 pounds each. In all, 36 shipping containers were used for the two buildings. 

The buildings are also more energy efficient than traditional construction. The design incorporates energy-efficient appliances, HVAC system, high-density insulation, and LED lighting throughout, among the many key energy components.

"We are grateful to partner with The College of Idaho on this project where we extended our model of providing energy efficient, durable, sustainable and healthy housing to one of Idaho's signature college campuses," said Pete Gombert, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of indieDwell.

Most of the suites in each dorm are built with one large common living space that includes a full-size refrigerator, kitchenette, quartz countertops and water efficient kitchen and restroom features. Five individual bedrooms and two individual bathrooms extend off each common space.

Students moved into the dorms in August while finishing touches were still being done to both residence halls, including landscaping.

"One of my favorite aspects of Sawtooth suites are how large the living spaces are in every suite. All four of my roommates and I are able to comfortably do homework and study together in the space," said senior Madison Kingsbury, who is also a resident assistant in Sawtooth Hall.

A video tour of the new dorms being constructed can be found on the College of Idaho's YouTube channel.

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