The building sector globally currently consumes more energy (34%) than the transport sector (27%) or maybe the industry sector (28%). Additionally it is the largest polluter, with the biggest prospect of significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions compared to other sectors, at no cost.
Buildings present an easily accessible and highly inexpensive ability to reach energy targets. An eco friendly building is one that minimises energy use during design, construction, operation and demolition.
The requirement to reduce energy use in the operation of buildings is currently commonly accepted around the globe. Changing behaviour could result in a 50% reduction in energy use by 2050.
Such savings are strongly influenced by the standard of buildings. Passive buildings are ultra-low energy buildings when the need for mechanical cooling, heating or ventilation could be eliminated.
Modular or prefabricated green buildings, designed and constructed in factories using precision technologies, might help achieve these standards. These buildings are better quality plus more sustainable than buildings constructed on-site through manual labour. These are potentially two times as efficient in comparison with on-site building.
However, despite support for prefabricated house there are numerous of hurdles when it comes to a prefab revolution.
Factory production means modular green buildings are better sealed against draughts, which in conventional buildings can take into account 15-25% of winter heat loss.
And factories also have higher quality control systems, creating improved insulation placement and better energy efficiency. Good insulation cuts energy bills by around half in comparison with uninsulated buildings.
Because production inside a factory setting is on-going, as an alternative to based upon individual on-site projects, there may be more scope for R&D. This improves the performance of buildings, including which makes them more resilient to disasters.
For instance, steel workshop in Japan have performed well during earthquakes, with key manufacturers reporting that none of their houses were destroyed from the 1995 Hanshin Great Earthquake, as opposed to the destruction of countless site-built houses.
Buildings constructed on location probably can’t attain the same benefits as modular buildings. Case studies in the UK show savings of 10% to 15% in building costs and a 40% lowering of transport for factory in comparison with on-site production. Factories also don’t lose time as a result of bad weather and possess better waste recycling systems.
Sorting waste at Sekisui House Ltd Recycling Centre. Karen Manley
As an illustration, Sekisui House, a Japanese builder, features a system for all those their construction sites where waste is sorted into 27 categories on-site and 80 categories in their recycling centre for the greatest value through the resources.
On-site building is open to the weather conditions. This prevents access to the precision technologies required to produce buildings to the highest environmental standards. These technologies include numerical controlled machinery, robotic assembly, building information models, rapid prototyping, assembly lines, test systems, fixing systems, lean construction and enterprise resource planning systems.
For instance, numerical controlled machinery provides more precise machine cutting that can’t be matched by manual efforts. This, put together with modelling, fixing and testing 98dexppky helps ensure that factories produce more airtight buildings, when compared with on-site production, reducing energy leakage.
High-Tech Factory, Shizuoka, Sekisui House Ltd. Karen Manley, Author provided
Less than 5% of new detached residential buildings within australia are modular green buildings.
In leading countries such as Sweden the rate is 84%.
In Japan, 15% of all their residential buildings are modular green buildings manufactured in the world’s most technologically advanced factories.
Globally, there is a trend toward increased market penetration of green modular buildings. Yet their adoption within the Australian building sector is slower than expected.
Constructing houses on site is less sustainable. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr, CC BY
However, we are able to still get caught up. The latest evidence suggests that strengthening building codes and providing better enforcement is the most cost effective path towards more sustainable housing.
Australia doesn’t have got a great record here. Our building codes may be better focused, stricter, and certainly our enforcement could be a lot better.
Building for the future
As being the biggest polluter and a high energy user, the building sector urgently must reform for climate change mitigation.
There are serious legacy issues. Mistakes we made before endure throughout the life of buildings. Building decisions we make today are often very costly to reverse, and buildings go on for decades! Around Australia, a timber building is probably going to last a minimum of 58 years, as well as a brick building at the very least 88 years.
Currently, potential building owners are funnelled toward on-site construction processes, in spite of the clearly documented benefits associated with prefabricated homes. This is reflected inside the low profile presented to modular housing within the National Construction Code and an absence of aggressive and well enforced environmental standards. We clearly need better policy to assist the modular green building industry.