The building sector globally currently consumes more energy (34%) in comparison to the transport sector (27%) or the industry sector (28%). It is also the greatest polluter, with the biggest prospect of significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions when compared with other sectors, free of charge.
Buildings present an readily available and highly inexpensive possibility to reach energy targets. A green building is just one that minimises energy use during design, construction, operation and demolition.
The need to reduce energy use through the operation of buildings is already commonly accepted worldwide. Changing behaviour could cause a 50% decrease in energy use by 2050.
Such savings are strongly relying on the quality of buildings. Passive buildings are ultra-low energy buildings in which the necessity for mechanical cooling, heating or ventilation could be eliminated.
Modular or prefabricated green buildings, designed and constructed in factories using precision technologies, will help achieve these standards. These buildings are better quality and a lot more sustainable than buildings constructed on-site through manual labour. They are potentially doubly efficient in comparison with on-site building.
However, despite support for prefabricated house there are a number of hurdles in the form of a prefab revolution.
Factory production means modular green buildings are better sealed against draughts, which in conventional buildings can account for 15-25% of winter heat loss.
And factories likewise have better quality control systems, ultimately causing improved insulation placement and energy efficiency. Good insulation cuts energy bills by approximately half in comparison to uninsulated buildings.
Because production inside a factory setting is on-going, instead of based on individual on-site projects, there exists more scope for R&D. This raises the performance of buildings, including which makes them more resilient to disasters.
As an example, steel warehouse in Japan have performed very well during earthquakes, with key manufacturers reporting that none of the houses were destroyed with the 1995 Hanshin Great Earthquake, as opposed to the destruction of several site-built houses.
Buildings constructed on site probably can’t reach the same benefits as modular buildings. Case studies in the UK show savings of 10% to 15% in building costs as well as a 40% decrease in transport for factory in comparison with on-site production. Factories also don’t lose time as a result of bad weather and have better waste recycling systems.
Sorting waste at Sekisui House Ltd Recycling Centre. Karen Manley
As an example, Sekisui House, a Japanese builder, carries a system for all those their construction sites where waste is sorted into 27 categories on-site and 80 categories inside their recycling centre for the best value in the resources.
On-site building is available to the weather. This prevents accessibility precision technologies expected to produce buildings towards 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.
By way of example, numerical controlled machinery provides more precise machine cutting that can’t be matched by manual efforts. This, combined with modelling, fixing and testing 98dexppky helps guarantee that factories produce more airtight buildings, in comparison to on-site production, reducing energy leakage.
High-Tech Factory, Shizuoka, Sekisui House Ltd. Karen Manley, Author provided
Under 5% of the latest detached residential buildings in Australia are modular green buildings.
In leading countries like Sweden the rate is 84%.
In Japan, 15% of all their residential buildings are modular green buildings created in the world’s most technologically advanced factories.
Globally, you will discover a trend toward increased market penetration of green modular buildings. Yet their adoption in the Australian building sector has been slower than expected.
Constructing houses on-site is less sustainable. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr, CC BY
However, we could still catch up. The most up-to-date evidence shows that strengthening building codes and providing better enforcement is the most cost effective path towards more sustainable housing.
Australia doesn’t possess a great record here. Our building codes might be better focused, stricter, and certainly our enforcement could be a lot better.
Building for future years
As the biggest polluter along with a high energy user, the construction sector urgently has to reform for climate change mitigation.
You will find serious legacy issues. Mistakes we made previously endure through the entire life of buildings. Building decisions we make today can be very costly to reverse, and buildings work for decades! Within Australia, a timber building will probably last a minimum of 58 years, plus a brick building a minimum of 88 years.
Currently, potential building owners are funnelled toward on-site construction processes, in spite of the clearly documented great things about light steel villa. This can be reflected from 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 back up the modular green building industry.