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Building in a time of climate change

Climate change is without a doubt the foremost challenge of our era. Politicians and non-governmental organisations the world over are putting increasing pressure on businesses across all industries to consider and limit the environmental impact of their operations.

Meanwhile, consumers are ever more vigilant about the environmental footprint of the products they buy and the sustainability credentials of the brands they patronise in this time of climate change.

climate change construction

Laying the foundations of a greener future

Within the UK, construction accounts for half of all carbon emissions produced by machinery and production. It is therefore no surprise that the government has started to pass legislation stipulating that construction firms must adopt green practices within their production process, for example through the use of energy-efficient technologies. The aim is to halve the energy usage of new buildings by 2030.

Whether architects and builders are seeking to ensure a building is energy efficient once operational or to reduce the environmental impact of the building process itself, modular buildings have huge potential to help tackle climate change.

Waste not, want not

Traditional construction sites produce an incredible amount of waste materials. The modular process, however, is extremely material efficient. The UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme estimates that modular construction can reduce waste materials like cement, bricks, timber, concrete, wood pallets, shrink wrap, cardboard, and plasterboard by up to 90%.

Since decisions are validated earlier in the offsite building process, material purchasing is more precise, which means less unused material at the end of a project. Plus, since materials are stored and handled within a safe and clean factory environment (as opposed to on a building site exposed to the elements and potential theft) leftover materials are intact and can be kept and used for the next modular project. Many modular companies, like the UK’s leading brand Elliott, have made a commitment to “refit, reuse, recycle, reconfigure” their customer’s products to ensure that their operations have a neutral or positive environmental impact.

Less energy, more efficiency

Modular construction relies on an assembly line process, which is by nature very energy efficient. It uses fewer materials, and since the creation of components is standardised, the margin for error (and therefore material waste) is greatly reduced, not to mention the safety benefits.

In terms of operating efficiency, modular buildings can be fitted with all the latest technologies to optimise energy consumption, which for the occupier has the added benefit of cost savings. These can range from solar energy panels for generating electricity to drainage systems that allow water within a building to be re-used.

An energy-conscious energy company

When Elliott were commissioned by UK energy giant, Centrica to provide portable buildings for a major project in Lincolnshire in 2016, sustainability and energy-efficiency were key. Centrica hired 14 Eco-cabins that were installed in a double-stacked formation at the plant to provide offices and welfare accommodation for a temporary workforce. Compared to standard portable buildings, Eco-cabins offer greater energy efficiency through features such as double-glazed windows, high-performance wall and roof insulation, PIR lighting and thermostatically controlled heating.

Modular buildings fit the bill when it comes to limiting the environmental footprint of construction projects, without compromising on budget and time constraints or sacrificing quality and aesthetics.