07/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Reduce, Recycle, Reoffice?

A concept borrowed from developers in London and Amsterdam has made its way to Providence, RI with the announcement there of the "Box Office," an office building constructed from 32 used steel shipping containers. Due for completion in 2010 and designed by local architect Truth Box, the Box Office will have 3 stories and 12 separate office and studio units. With construction still to begin, it is nearly 40 percent leased, a huge statement in this economy.

This new office building is attracting start-up businesses, artists, and small businesses -- mostly due to its innovation and low cost, of course. More importantly, its location in a blighted part of town is another form of recycling in that it's bringing back an overlooked area. Outside its unique design and aesthetic, taking out-of-service shipping containers and giving them a second life is another aspect of sustainability that can't be overlooked.

Sustainable and green mean many things. Most importantly, the highest level of green attained is the foresight to either create or adapt ideas that can make economic sense in the mainstream. Although Box Office is relatively small in the scheme of commercial real estate development, don't be surprised to see many of the larger corporations taking the steps of reducing, reusing, and recycling to not only cut their own carbon footprints but to apply green principles to help them grow.

Jonathan A. Schein is the publisher of and