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Your building sector globally currently consumes more energy (34%) in comparison to the transport sector (27%) or even the industry sector (28%). It is additionally the most significant polluter, with the biggest likelihood of significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions compared to other sectors, free of charge.

Buildings provide an easy to access and highly cost-effective possibility to reach energy targets. An eco friendly building is a that minimises energy use during design, construction, operation and demolition.

The requirement to reduce energy use during the operation of buildings is currently commonly accepted around the world. Changing behaviour could cause a 50% lowering of energy use by 2050.

Such savings are strongly affected by the standard of buildings. Passive buildings are ultra-low energy buildings where the need 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 top quality and more sustainable than buildings constructed on-site through manual labour. They are potentially two times as efficient in comparison to 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 take into account 15-25% of winter heat loss.

And factories also have higher quality control systems, leading to improved insulation placement and better energy efficiency. Good insulation cuts energy bills by around half in comparison to uninsulated buildings.

Because production in a factory setting is on-going, rather than according to individual on-site projects, there may be more scope for R&D. This raises the performance of buildings, including leading them to be more resilient to disasters.

For instance, steel structure warehouse in Japan have performed very well during earthquakes, with key manufacturers reporting that none of the houses were destroyed from the 1995 Hanshin Great Earthquake, instead of the destruction of countless site-built houses.

Buildings constructed at your location probably can’t get the same benefits as modular buildings. Case studies in the UK show savings of 10% to 15% in building costs plus a 40% lowering of transport for factory compared to on-site production. Factories also don’t lose time due to bad weather and have 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 their construction sites where waste is sorted into 27 categories on-site and 80 categories in their recycling centre for the greatest value from the resources.

On-site building is available to the climate. This prevents accessibility 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.

By way of example, numerical controlled machinery provides more precise machine cutting that can’t be matched by manual efforts. This, coupled with modelling, fixing and testing 98dexppky helps make certain that factories produce more airtight buildings, in comparison with on-site production, reducing energy leakage.

High-Tech Factory, Shizuoka, Sekisui House Ltd. Karen Manley, Author provided

Under 5% of brand new detached residential buildings in Australia are modular green buildings.

In leading countries including Sweden the pace is 84%.

In Japan, 15% of their residential buildings are modular green buildings manufactured in the world’s most technologically advanced factories.

Globally, you will find 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 can still get caught up. The latest evidence shows 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 the biggest polluter along with a high energy user, the construction sector urgently needs to reform for global warming mitigation.

You can find serious legacy issues. Mistakes we made in the past endure during the entire life of buildings. Building decisions we make today can be very costly to reverse, and buildings go on for decades! Australia Wide, a timber building is likely to last no less than 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, despite the clearly documented benefits of light steel villa. This is certainly reflected within the low profile made available to modular housing from the National Construction Code and a lack of aggressive and well enforced environmental standards. We clearly need better policy to assist the modular green building industry.