Four Reasons Why Modular is More Sustainable Than Traditional Construction

Over the past decade, modular construction has grown substantially. A recent report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills has estimated the total value of the offsite construction industry at £1.5 billion, with the potential to grow to £6 billion.

Attitudinal changes towards offsite building techniques, as well as their increased sustainability and capabilities as seen on many high-profile jobs, have all contributed to this growth.

Matthew Goff, director of UK operations at Actavo | Building Solutions, gives four reasons why modular is overtaking traditional construction methods in the sustainability stakes:

1. Modular buildings are manufactured in controlled environments

It is widely recognised that modular has the potential to reduce overall construction programmes.

In most cases, while onsite ground works are being completed, building modules are being manufactured in a controlled, factory environment. This means a large portion of works are completed simultaneously, reducing the building programme from the outset.

Once modules are delivered to site – pre-fitted with electrics, plumbing, heating, doors, windows and internal finishes – they are carefully craned into position on prepared foundations. This is a key driver for education facilities where disruption to staff and pupils needs to be kept to a minimum.

Offsite construction is up to 50% quicker than traditional – buildings can be created onsite in timeframes as short as just four weeks.

2. Modular buildings are often recyclable

Offsite construction can reduce up to 90% of waste generated when compared with traditional construction methods. Some modular buildings are now manufactured using recyclable material from other projects.

Being adaptable and flexible to changing needs, modular buildings are easy to move without disturbing surrounding landscapes. Think of a school campus which needs to evolve as systems develop and additional space is required.

Modular allows and, following the introduction of BIM (building information modelling), can plan for any future changes throughout a building’s life cycle – from concept to demolition.

3. Offsite construction uses less energy

Compared to an equivalent, traditionally-built project, up to 67% less energy is required to produce a modular building.

Not only is the actual construction of the building ‘greener’, but the building is also energy- efficient for life. Modular buildings are now being installed with energy-efficient systems such as energy-efficient glass, geothermal systems and solar panels.

Offsite construction also impacts on the carbon footprint of a building, as it allows for a reduction of the total number of deliveries to sites by 90%.

4. Modular can be built to the exact same standards as traditional

The key benefit of modular construction is the essential quality benefits which come with working in a controlled factory environment. Buildings are designed and built to the same, higher sustainability standards as traditional construction such as BREEAM, PassivHaus and AECB.

Unlike traditional construction, there are many cost savings associated with modular buildings, stemming from a reduction in project timeframes and leading to reductions in overall costs.

Although changing views of offsite construction methods are continuing to increase its popularity, traditional methods still account for the largest market share in the building industry. As the construction sector develops and adapts to meet changing Government strategies, modular will be increasingly employed across the industry.

For more information about sustainable, modular buildings, please visit: