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The construction sector globally currently consumes more energy (34%) compared to the transport sector (27%) or the industry sector (28%). It is also the most significant polluter, with all the biggest prospect of significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions when compared with other sectors, free of charge.

Buildings present an easy to access and highly inexpensive possibility to reach energy targets. An eco-friendly building is just one that minimises energy use during design, construction, operation and demolition.

The desire to reduce energy use throughout the operation of buildings has become commonly accepted around the globe. Changing behaviour could cause a 50% decline in energy use by 2050.

Such savings are strongly relying on the standard of buildings. Passive buildings are ultra-low energy buildings in which the need for mechanical cooling, heating or ventilation could be eliminated.

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

However, despite support for prefab house there are many 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 provide better quality control systems, ultimately causing improved insulation placement and better energy efficiency. Good insulation cuts energy bills by around half in comparison to uninsulated buildings.

Because production in the factory setting is on-going, as an alternative to based on individual on-site projects, there is certainly more scope for R&D. This enhances the performance of buildings, including making them more resilient to natural disasters.

By way of example, steel structure warehouse in Japan have performed well during earthquakes, with key manufacturers reporting that none in their houses were destroyed through the 1995 Hanshin Great Earthquake, rather than the destruction of several site-built houses.

Buildings constructed at your location probably can’t reach the same benefits as modular buildings. Case studies in the UK show savings of 10% to 15% in building costs and a 40% decline in transport for factory compared to on-site production. Factories also don’t lose time on account of bad weather and get better waste recycling systems.

Sorting waste at Sekisui House Ltd Recycling Centre. Karen Manley

For instance, Sekisui House, a Japanese builder, includes a system for many their construction sites where waste is sorted into 27 categories on-site and 80 categories in their recycling centre for the best value through the resources.

On-site building is accessible to the elements. 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.

For instance, 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 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

Below 5% of new detached residential buildings around australia are modular green buildings.

In leading countries including Sweden the rate is 84%.

In Japan, 15% of most 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 within the Australian building sector has been slower than expected.

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

However, we are able to still get caught up. The newest evidence suggests that strengthening building codes and providing better enforcement is the most affordable path towards more sustainable housing.

Australia doesn’t have got a great record here. Our building codes could possibly be better focused, stricter, and certainly our enforcement may well be a lot better.

Building for future years

As being the biggest polluter plus a high energy user, the construction sector urgently must reform for climate change mitigation.

There are serious legacy issues. Mistakes we made before endure throughout the life of buildings. Building decisions we make today can be very costly to reverse, and buildings last for decades! Around Australia, a timber building will probably last at the very least 58 years, along with a brick building a minimum of 88 years.

Currently, potential building owners are funnelled toward on-site construction processes, despite the clearly documented great things about prefabricated homes. This is certainly reflected in the low profile presented to modular housing within the National Construction Code and not enough aggressive and well enforced environmental standards. We clearly need better policy to support the modular green building industry.