Yes, there is no question that modular construction is greener. Take the example of construction waste – off-site methods are far more efficient in terms of construction waste reduction than on-site construction.
Here is one example; many on-site contractors will include up to a 10% material contingency in their projects to cover, among other things, damage from weather and trades damages during construction. Because on-site contractors do not normally store excess materials for future jobs, even if there were no damages, this 10% contingency winds up in the waste stream.
Off-site factories are naturally more efficient with their materials. At Miletus Group we own our own modular factory. When we calculate materials for a job we use a factor of 0% percent for weather and trades damages to materials. This makes our overall waste stream very small. Because our facility is organized and weather tight, it is very easy for us to handle materials and waste. Throughout our facility we have separate bins for various construction materials that we can not use again. This means recycling is easy for us and we wind up recycling over 95% of the limited waste we do generate. Very little of our construction material winds up in the landfill. It would be great if on-site builders could make similar claims, but it is highly improbable that on-site construction could ever meet these numbers due to the very nature of the environment in which they work.
Visit AIA’s new KnowledgeNet Modular and Prefabricated Architecture group. There are a couple of documents from the UK on this very subject. They are a few years ahead of us on this issue. It is good reading.
If anyone reading this has further data to support the efficiencies of off-site construction, please do feel free to let us know directly and we will post it.
© Miletus Group, Inc. 2011