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The property sector globally currently consumes more energy (34%) compared to transport sector (27%) or maybe the industry sector (28%). Additionally it is the greatest polluter, together with the biggest potential for significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with other sectors, free of charge.

Buildings provide an readily accessible and highly cost-effective ability 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 in the operation of buildings is now commonly accepted all over the world. 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 where the necessity for mechanical cooling, heating or ventilation can be eliminated.

Modular or prefabricated green buildings, designed and constructed in factories using precision technologies, may help achieve these standards. These buildings are high quality and much more sustainable than buildings constructed on-site through manual labour. They can be potentially two times as efficient in comparison to on-site building.

However, despite support for prefabricated house there are numerous of hurdles when it comes to 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 better quality control systems, leading to improved insulation placement and energy efficiency. Good insulation cuts energy bills by up to half in comparison with uninsulated buildings.

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

By way of example, steel structure warehouse in Japan have performed perfectly during earthquakes, with key manufacturers reporting that none of their houses were destroyed from the 1995 Hanshin Great Earthquake, as opposed to the destruction of many site-built houses.

Buildings constructed on-site probably can’t reach the same benefits as modular buildings. Case studies in the united kingdom show savings of 10% to 15% in building costs along with a 40% reduction in transport for factory in comparison to on-site production. Factories also don’t lose time because of bad weather and possess better waste recycling systems.

Sorting waste at Sekisui House Ltd Recycling Centre. Karen Manley

For example, Sekisui House, a Japanese builder, carries a system for all their construction sites where waste is sorted into 27 categories on-site and 80 categories within their recycling centre for top level value through the resources.

On-site building is ready to accept the climate. This prevents accessibility precision technologies necessary 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, coupled with modelling, fixing and testing 98dexppky helps ensure 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 around australia are modular green buildings.

In leading countries including Sweden the velocity is 84%.

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

Globally, there is a trend toward increased market penetration of green modular buildings. Yet their adoption within the Australian building sector has become slower than expected.

Constructing houses on location is less sustainable. Grand Canyon National Park/Flickr, CC BY

However, we can easily still get caught up. The most up-to-date evidence suggests 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 possibly be better focused, stricter, and definitely our enforcement may well be a lot better.

Building for future years

As the biggest polluter along with a high energy user, the property sector urgently has to reform for climate change mitigation.

You can find serious legacy issues. Mistakes we made previously endure through the entire lifetime of buildings. Building decisions we make today are often very costly to reverse, and buildings work for decades! Around Australia, a timber building will probably last at the very least 58 years, and a brick building at least 88 years.

Currently, potential building owners are funnelled toward on-site construction processes, regardless of the clearly documented benefits of light steel villa. This can be reflected in the low profile provided to modular housing within the National Construction Code and too little aggressive and well enforced environmental standards. We clearly need better policy to back up the modular green building industry.

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