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promoting sustainable construction with modular design.

Sustainability in construction is in the spotlight at the moment, both in terms of making existing infrastructure more sustainable and how new constructions can be developed and implemented in a more environmentally conscious manner.

The Government has launched an ambitious scheme for improving the energy efficiency of existing public buildings [1] whilst the Environmental Audit Committee has made a recommendation that whole-life carbon assessments should be mandated for all new buildings [2].

There is significant pressure on the industry to explore alternatives to traditional builds in order to reduce waste, deliver in a more efficient manner and incorporate carbon reduction strategies into each and every new structure that is built. To truly make a difference, this adoption of innovative approaches to construction must be embraced equally by commercial and residential construction firms, and today, we are looking at modular construction as a potential solution.

Benefits of modular construction

1. Reduced waste.

Modular buildings have already been proven to offer cost efficiencies whilst reducing build timescales, pollution during construction and disruption to local residents. However, recent studies further demonstrate that they can also reduce steel waste by up to 98% [3].

During modular construction, materials are kept indoors and protected from the elements. This reduces the likelihood of materials succumbing to defects or environmental damage and being rendered unsuitable for use. The construction company maintains total control of its production line and can ensure that all materials are allocated and used to reduce, if not totally eliminate, wastage.

Because much of the production process is automated, measurements can be more accurate and components designed to interact precisely with one another once on site.

2. Reduced workforce requirements.

Building modular structures requires a smaller construction crew than traditional builds, which in a period where recruiting to the industry is proving challenging [4], can only be of benefit.

Specialist quality control is maintained during the offsite build and all applicable standards and codes are achieved prior to installation at site, ensuring that modular buildings are fit for purpose and designed to last. By centralising the quality control personnel, they can oversee a number of builds from one location, reducing the need for travel or a larger workforce to provide a presence across a number of sites.

3. Future-proof.

Not only are they built to last as long as their traditional counterparts, but they are also re-configurable, lending themselves to changes of use or upgrade during their lifetimes. Where a traditionally built construction may have to be demolished in the future, a modular equivalent may be relocated or adapted to deliver a new purpose. This flexibility in the build makes a modular building infinitely more recyclable than a traditional brick and mortar build, where up to 90% of its construction materials become debris at end of life and are unsuitable for reuse. 

4. Energy efficient.

The production facilities used to create modular constructions are typically operated in an energy efficient fashion, and the buildings that they develop are designed for sustainability. Engineers operating within the production facilities can ensure that the humidity, temperature and air pressure inside the facility is optimised to reduce wastage or damage to construction materials.

They can also incorporate next-gen technologies into the design of the builds, such as photovoltaic solar panels that can capture renewable energy to provide power to the resulting structure.

Modular construction can even deliver energy efficiencies in traditionally inefficient data centres, whereby modular cooling systems can be installed, utilising cool air from the exterior of the building to reduce the indoor temperature, whilst heat generated by the IT equipment is removed via a heat exchanger. This minimises pollution and can significantly reduce the operating costs of such buildings, increasing profits and the comfort of the staff within.

Build Space involvement

We believe that sustainability is the key to securing the future of the construction industry, and we are proud to have delivered teams to support the development and implementation of many modular constructions to date. We feel that it is essential to develop more efficient processes and to collaborate across the industry, learning from the experiences of others and developing appropriate strategic partnerships in order to create a circular economy wherein we can all thrive.

Modular construction can help to achieve the challenging targets set by our government and we stand ready to support any firms that wish to take the leap, with the provision of skilled and experienced talent that can supplement existing teams, take the lead on implementing new policies and bring new insights to the table. To find out how we can help your business to embrace advances in building technology, please contact us today.



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