Are Modular Buildings Sustainable?

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?

Sourcing Materials

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.

Book cover: Sustainable House, Michael Moore

Speaking of carbon emissions & other pollution, in Sustainable House, Michael Moore says next time he would use more prefabricated modular cabinetry in kitchen and bathroom, for more energy efficient production, including reducing the number of workers’ vehicles rocking up to his house daily during construction.

Manufacturing Process

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


  7 comments for “Are Modular Buildings Sustainable?

  1. January 22, 2013 at 1:55 am

    If you had planned to manage the construction of your home, make sure you clearly understand the responsibilities that come with this process. Unless you have the knowledge and time necessary to acquire permits, hire contractors and keep the project flowing smoothly, you might be more satisfied working with a New Jersey modular builder who provides turnkey services. Choose a builder who will educate and inform you; one who will monitor lot acquisition, permitting and construction from start to finish.

  2. November 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Modular is great. Small modular is even better. Energy efficient small modular is best. Make it unique, beautiful, and sturdy, and you’ve got a winning combination. Please see for 5 models of modular cabins, built in a custom off-grid facility on a Kentucky Amish farm, and delivered fully assembled and ready for same day use. Off-grid solar power options also. Can build and join together onsite 2 modular cabins in a T formation for double the square footage. Beautiful eastern white pine from floor to ceiling, with exposed post and beam construction. Amish-built quality.

  3. May 26, 2016 at 8:10 am

    I am certainly considering all the factors mentioned here. Now I’ll be more cautious with the green things I buy.

  4. November 4, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Because modular homes can be disassembled and moved I definitely think they are sustainable. They look great too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. August 31, 2017 at 6:30 am

    If used with the right materials, modular homes are definitely sustainable because of their ability to be disassembled. Great post for things to consider. Thanks for sharing!

  6. December 22, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I think it is. Because its modular everything is supposed to be bolt on.

  7. May 10, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Great post! Planning to consider all of these points. Hopefully, I can definitely apply them. Anyways, thank you for sharing this. Cheers!

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