Your building sector globally currently consumes more energy (34%) than the transport sector (27%) or even the industry sector (28%). Additionally it is the biggest polluter, with all the biggest possibility of significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions compared to other sectors, at no cost.
Buildings provide an readily accessible and highly cost-effective chance to reach energy targets. A green building is a 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 worldwide. Changing behaviour could cause a 50% decrease in energy use by 2050.
Such savings are strongly influenced by the standard of buildings. Passive buildings are ultra-low energy buildings where the desire for mechanical cooling, heating or ventilation can be eliminated.
Modular or prefabricated green buildings, designed and constructed in factories using precision technologies, will help achieve these standards. These buildings are high quality and more sustainable than buildings constructed on-site through manual labour. They can be potentially doubly efficient in comparison with on-site building.
However, despite support for prefab house there are a number of hurdles in the way 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 also have higher quality control systems, ultimately causing improved insulation placement and better energy efficiency. Good insulation cuts energy bills by around half compared to uninsulated buildings.
Because production in a factory setting is on-going, rather than based upon individual on-site projects, there is more scope for R&D. This improves the performance of buildings, including making them more resilient to disasters.
For instance, steel warehouse in Japan have performed very well during earthquakes, with key manufacturers reporting that none with their houses were destroyed through the 1995 Hanshin Great Earthquake, as opposed to the destruction of many site-built houses.
Buildings constructed on site probably can’t achieve the same benefits as modular buildings. Case studies in the UK show savings of 10% to 15% in building costs along with a 40% decline in transport for factory when compared with on-site production. Factories also don’t lose time because of bad weather and also have better waste recycling systems.
Sorting waste at Sekisui House Ltd Recycling Centre. Karen Manley
For example, Sekisui House, a Japanese builder, features a system for those their construction sites where waste is sorted into 27 categories on-site and 80 categories within their recycling centre for the best value from your resources.
On-site building is open to the weather conditions. This prevents access to the precision technologies required to produce buildings on 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.
As an example, 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 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
Less than 5% newest detached residential buildings australia wide are modular green buildings.
In leading countries such as Sweden the speed is 84%.
In Japan, 15% of all the their residential buildings are modular green buildings manufactured in the world’s most technologically advanced factories.
Globally, there exists a trend toward increased market penetration of green modular buildings. Yet their adoption from the Australian building sector continues to be slower than expected.
Constructing houses at your location is less sustainable. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr, CC BY
However, we are able to still catch up. The latest evidence implies 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 could be better focused, stricter, and positively our enforcement may well be a lot better.
Building for future years
As the biggest polluter plus a high energy user, the building sector urgently has to reform for climate change mitigation.
There are serious legacy issues. Mistakes we made in the past endure throughout the lifetime of buildings. Building decisions we make today can be extremely costly to reverse, and buildings last for decades! Within Australia, a timber building is probably going to last a minimum of 58 years, and a brick building at least 88 years.
Currently, potential building owners are funnelled toward on-site construction processes, in spite of the clearly documented benefits associated with prefab homes. This is reflected within the low profile given 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.