Modular Buildings are often billed as a green alternative to traditional construction methods, but what factors should be considered when choosing a sustainable construction method?
Modular buildings are becoming a popular alternative to traditional construction methods. The off-site building process has many benefits including lower costs, quicker build times and lower levels of disruption. They can be designed to fit in with existing buildings, as an extension for example, or can be used as permanent or temporary standalone structures.
Many modular companies boast about their environmental credentials, but why exactly are modular buildings seen as being sustainable?
Sustainability should be considered at each step of a building’s life span, starting with the sourcing of raw materials used in the build. The best materials will be:
- Obtained from a sustainable source. When using materials such as wood, ensure the timber is taken from forests that are sustainably managed, to prevent the critical effects of deforestation.
- O-zone friendly. Products should be free of chemicals like ozone damaging CFCs, and you should look for a materials’ ODP – their Ozone Depleting Potential. This should, ideally, be zero.
- Long-life and maintenance free: Choosing materials that will last for a long time means less waste and environmental impact sourcing and manufacturing replacements.
The techniques used by modular construction companies means that materials such as those above are more available to them. Hardy ‘Plastisol’ is a common wall or roof cladding, and many insulation materials now have an ODP of zero.
It is not just materials that should be sustainable, the construction techniques involved in creating the building should also have a low environmental impact. Important factors include:
- Build Time: The longer time it takes for construction, the longer other negative aspects of construction work occur (including pollution). A reduction in build time will also save you money and inconvenience.
- Carbon Emission: In the UK, Building Regulations require construction to have a certain maximum level of carbon emissions. A good, sustainable company will exceed these regulations.
- Pollution: The amount of pollution caused, particularly by petrol fuelled vehicles, should be at a minimum.
The unique nature of modular construction means that build time and pollution are heavily minimised as vehicle usage is low. On-site construction can take as little as a few hours and materials are transported infrequently to the factory – which is also a time-saving method as weather conditions and material shortages are less prevalent problems.
Performance & Disposal
An environmentally-friendly building should have low carbon impact, good levels of insulation, water saving devices and other green credentials. It should be long-lasting in design; modular buildings benefit from being easy to dismantle and relocate – they can either be moved to new premises or resold if they are no longer needed. At the end of their usable life, the majority of components should be able to be reused or recycled.
Choosing a Sustainable Construction Company
If you are keen to have a sustainable building, choose a company equally as passionate who already have an active environmental contingent or attempt to absorb extra costs themselves – you should not be made to feel that sustainability is a secondary issue.
Ask for a specific presentation on environmental concerns and look out for the factors mentioned above. Also consider asking the following questions:
- Are the company accredited for their environmental policies?
- Are there good relationships in place with suppliers of sustainable raw materials?
- Are there intensive recycling facilities in place for both materials and old buildings?
- Are the company showing diligence in green matters – is there an environmental management system, perhaps?
This guest post was submitted by Servaccomm Modular Building Solutions. To find out more about the sustainability of modular buildings, or to enquire about your own project, visit Servaccomm.co.uk.