We’ve previously discussed the incredible amount of construction and demolition waste that is created over the course of a standard commercial construction project. As much as 100 tons for new construction and an almost unfathomable 4,000 tons if the project first includes demolition.
Consider the fact that this is just one project and construction is just one industry and you begin to understand why many corporations world-wide have become involved in the zero waste movement. Zero waste goes beyond diverting waste out of the landfill. It involves making changes internally, to the way products are designed and the management of processes that systematically reduce and eliminate the amount of waste generated.
The modular construction industry has embraced its unique role in the movement to achieve zero waste. The Modular Building Institute recently shared a report from WRAP, the Waste and Resource Action Programme, which outlines the key ways that building design and construction processes can be revised sustainability with waste reduction in mind. Many of these design strategies have been implemented by modular builders for decades. In fact, it’s been proven that modular construction has the potential to reduce 90% of construction waste through off-site construction.
Design for Off-Site Construction
From the WRAP report: “The benefits of off-site factory production in the construction industry are well documented and include the potential to considerably reduce waste, especially when factory manufactured elements and components are used extensively.”
Extensively? How about exclusively! Over 90% of the construction process, including all the steps included in building the individual modules, take place in a climate controlled indoor manufacturing facility. What this equates to is zero material waste generated from weather (rain or snow) damage or from on-site theft. Additionally, scrap supplies are much easier to save and reuse for the next project when all construction happens at the same place. As opposed to traditional construction where tossing scrap into a dumpster is much easier than moving it to a new location.
Design for Reuse and Recovery
Again, straight from the WRAP report: “Research has identified that the reuse of material components and/or entire buildings has considerable potential to reduce the key environmental burdens (e.g. embodies energy, CO2 waste, etc) resulting from construction”
Reuse is the cornerstone upon which the modular industry was built. Temporary modular buildings are leased to meet a short-term need, after which they are removed from a site and used for a new project. As a tool in the zero waste movement, modular buildings result in twice the waste reduction. They not only minimize the amount of waste generated on the initial build, but also eliminate the need for additional raw material and energy use when buildings can be reused, as opposed to new buildings created.
Design for Deconstruction and Flexibility
From the statistics laid out in the opening of this post by Caledonian removals, we can see how much more waste is generated when a new building project must first include demolition. The advantage that a relocatable modular building offers is the ability to deconstruct, not demolish. As easily as modular buildings are assembled, they can be unassembled. At which point, they can be relocated and with some minor rework and adjustments to fulfill a new need for a business in a completely different industry.
In addition to playing a role in the zero waste movement, modular building supports green building practices in other ways including less green space disturbance at the building site, less traffic and noise pollution on the job site and energy efficient systems built into each project.
Contact our local modular building expert for more information on achieving zero waste through modular construction initiatives.
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