Many countries around the globe are adopting more environmentally friendly, sustainable construction practices that reduce green house gas emissions, and toxic waste that is polluting our land and water. Consequently, permanent and portable modular buildings are becoming a popular green solution for a variety of private and public construction projects.
Modular buildings offer many major advantages compared to conventional buildings, such as: quick construction time, reduced site disruption, durability, energy efficiency, financial savings and flexibility of use.
In times of natural disasters, modular buildings have proven themselves as the most efficient solution to helping rebuild a devastated area in the shortest amount of time. These buildings would be highly beneficial for many Asian countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and many others that have regions which are prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc. In the wake of such a disaster the most critical thing that can save thousands of lives is rapid response from government authorities. It is vital to quickly build emergency medical facilities that will care for the victims, as well as safe housing for survivors who lost their homes. Modular buildings have proven to be the best solution in these situations, allowing disaster-stricken communities to be up and running as much as 50% faster than traditional construction.
What is a modular building?
A modular building is a prefabricated building that consists of multiple sections, which are built in a remote facility and then delivered to their intended site of use.
How is a modular building constructed?
Components of modular buildings are constructed indoors using assembly line methods. An assembly line track moves the modules from one workstation to the next. The frames are constructed with steel main beams. Floors are pre-assembled with joists, insulation and sub-flooring, and then installed on top of the frame chassis. Bottom board protects the underside of the module from moisture and air infiltration. Walls are pre-assembled in jigs, and then installed after support columns. Windows and doors are also installed. Electrical wiring, plumbing and HVAC are installed prior to roofing and exterior siding. Roofing assembly consists of putting together the ceiling, rafters, insulation, duct-work and sheathing prior to placement on walls or columns. Overhead cranes are used to lift preassembled building sections into place. Modular homes are built to conform to all state, local or regional building codes at their destinations. Modular sections are transported to the building site on truck beds, and joined together by modular building dealers and contractors.
Advantages of modular buildings after a natural disaster?
1. Fast speed of construction
When disaster or war strikes, time is of the essence to save human lives. Modular construction allows for the building and the site work to be finished simultaneously, which reduces the time needed to complete construction by as much as 50%. Modules can take as little as 10 days to be constructed and on-site placement of the modules can take as little as several hours.
2. Flexible usage
Modular buildings can fulfill a variety of vital needs. They can be put us as housing for victims, emergency medical facilities, schools, offices and other buildings needed in a particular region. Modular buildings are very easy to extend, by simply adding sections and even entire floors. Depending on needs, modular buildings can range in size from a few hundred square feet to tens of thousands of square feet. Moreover, exteriors of modular buildings can be designed to match unique geographic conditions.
3. Portable and adaptable
One of the greatest advantages of modular buildings in a disaster-stricken region is the fact they can be quickly relocated to a different site location, including areas with limited accessibility. The ability of these buildings to adapt to almost any local conditions can save lives, especially in areas where building an emergency medical facility would not otherwise be possible. Portability is a necessity that can not be underestimated in highly dangerous conditions that often call for a timely change of plans, and quick relocation.
Modular buildings can save local and state governments a lot of money because they are much cheaper to construct than conventional buildings. It is possible to save as much as 20% on modular building projects when compared to similar conventional construction projects. These savings can be converted toward restoring such vital things as medical facilities, and schools as well purchasing medical supplies, food, clothing and other necessary first-aid commodities.
4. Minimal Construction Debris
The last thing needed in a disaster area that already has to deal with clean up of destroyed buildings, is construction waste from newly constructed buildings. Modular buildings eliminate this problem entirely, since they are manufactured remotely and are delivered to the site, ready to be put up right away.
5. Health Benefits
In regions devastated by natural disasters, or armed conflict, human health is already comprised. Modular buildings can help keep their inhabitants more healthy, because they are built in a factory, and the materials are stored indoors in a controlled environment. As a result, there is no risk of mold, mildew, rust, and sun damage that can often lead to serious respiratory problems.
What are the environmental benefits of modular buildings?
1. Low waste
With the same plans being constantly built, the manufacturer has records of exactly what quantity of materials are needed for a given job. In fact, modular construction can reduce waste by up to 90% due to the limited use packaging materials, such as wood pallets, shrink wrap, cardboard, concrete, etc.
2. Environmentally friendly and energy efficient construction process
Conventional construction industry is known to be highly polluting and inefficient, contributing as much as 40% of all green house gas emissions, 30% of all raw materials, and 25% of our water supplies. Conventional construction also requires the use of over 40% of primary energy resources. By comparison, modular construction uses significantly less energy, less raw materials and water, thereby overall greatly reducing green house gas emissions.
3. Green, sustainable building materials.
A great benefit of modular buildings is that they are made from green, often partially recycled, sustainable and low-toxicity materials. Some parts are made from renewable sorghum stalks, thereby minimizing forest clear-cutting, air pollution and landfill use. Other parts, such as floors, are built from bamboo, which is both efficiently produced, and can also be quickly replenished. Wall coverings inside modern green modular buildings contain extremely-low VOCs. They also do not contain chlorine, plasticizers, heavy metals, harmful dyes or ozone-depleting chemicals, often found inside conventional buildings.