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Building a solution for sustainable construction

With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) just around the corner, it’s time for all industries to reflect on their role in tackling the climate crisis. Construction has the opportunity to be a key player in this shift towards responsible solutions – with offsite modular construction presenting an eco-friendly choice for the future of building.

Between construction and climate

The aim of COP26 is simple: to encourage the international community to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and adopt greener practices worldwide. 2050 is not a nice-to-have recommendation; it’s a very real a deadline. With the potential of rising global temperatures and irreparable damage to ecosystems that could threaten how we interact with our planet, it’s vital that we start making the necessary changes now, especially at the level of infrastructure.

But why is building so important in that mix? If you’re not familiar with the data, it may surprise you to discover that the construction sector accounts for approximately 40% of greenhouse gas emissions globally — and rising, due to increasing energy demands. This is a stark sign that, if we want to make genuine progress towards eco-friendly practices and a carbon net zero target, we need to start at the core of how we handle development.

Why traditional construction must change

There are three key elements that typically make up the building development process: the resource and materials used, the supply and transit chain, and the machinery needed to bring the project to completion, all of which have a respective impact during the build phase.

However, the environmental footprint of any building does not stop once the final naggins have been done and the occupants move in. For example, using carbon-rich materials that have a large footprint for delivery has a negative effect on the environment (especially in the case of multiple, largescale developments), but the heating, cooling, lighting and energy efficiency of those materials will also define how sustainable that property is over the years and decades. If it performs poorly, that’s not only a blow to the environment, but also at cost to the building’s owner.

A report from Deloitte outlines the following points needed to reduce carbon emissions and transition risks:

  • Lowering the carbon intensity of building materials
  • Implementing climate-smart energy consumption for real estate and infrastructure
  • The design of more recyclable materials in the refurbishment and demolition phases.

In traditional construction practices, we are still not quite there. It may be because of the comparatively cheaper cost of existing supplies, a reticence to expand beyond tried and tested contractors, or familiarity with typical building methods, but there is also potentially a lingering perception that alternative construction methods are not economically beneficial for the property builder. That may have been true in the early stages, but as with all new technologies, costs come down over time; when combined with the very real savings in terms of materials, construction time and environmental impact, alternative methods could not only help in the role of the sector in delivering climate-sustainable solutions, but could also positively impact on bottom lines.

The offsite difference – and the Enevate difference

Key amongst these is offsite modular construction, with the frames of lightweight gauge steel significantly reducing material and build costs. The downside to offsite modular construction can be identikit solutions; most firms specialising in this technique have a predetermined range of modules that can be stacked together. Enevate has gone a step further to combine the environmental benefits of the technique with the flexibility of bespoke designs; the results exceed the current design, regulation and code standards for typical building practice.

Completing 85% of the production process in our factory, build time onsite is also greatly reduced, requiring less energy, resource and labour per development, meaning an end product that is not only better for the environment, but also cheaper than traditional construction, while still be able to deliver bespoke solutions to unique challenges.

The immediate environmental benefits of our bespoke, offsite modular construction

Our figures speak for themselves:

  • 67% less energy used to manufacture a modular building than traditional construction methods
  • 70% fewer CO2 emissions as less energy is used in manufacturing*
  • No toxic fumes released during construction
  • We use 100% recyclable steel (A+) that does not emit toxic fumes during construction or in the event of a fire.; any steel offcuts are recycled
  • We have a tiny wastage rate as 99% of production materials are used or recycled
  • 60% of factory waste is recycled
  • 70% reduction in site traffic.*

An additional environmental pressure has been scarcity of land, leading to increased building on flood plains and greenfield sites, which have further contributed to the environmental impact of construction. Our expert, bespoke airspace stacking increases the capacity of existing properties with the least possible disruption and no scaffolding required – reducing demand for new land, so enabling us to protect our much-needed green lungs and open spaces.­­

The ongoing environmental benefits of offsite modular construction

Whether you’re developing or expanding property for your own use or as an investment, whether it’s for residential or commercial use, there are ongoing gains from opting for bespoke offsite modular construction that can both reduce your environmental footprint and improve your bottom line:

  • 100% reusable builds – if the building is no longer required it can be easily relocated and reconfigured, whole or as separate components
  • Over the lifetime of each building, the energy savings are up to 90% greater, thanks to the highly insulated nature of the properties*
  • 78% greater airtightness than building standards require
  • 85% more thermally efficient*
  • 40% lower heating costs than required by building regulations
  • No Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) in the insulation materials we use

*When compared to traditional building methods.

The COP26 challenge

At Enevate Homes, we are committed to building the best quality, cost-effective housing for our clients, but also to making a measurable impact in the construction industry as a whole. We believe in a responsible, sustainable future for residential and commercial construction and have the results to prove it. As world leaders prepare to meet down the road from our Glasgow factory, we put out an open invitation to come and understand how offsite modular construction can be part of the solution – and urge our sector to rise to the challenge facing us all.

If you’re interested in learning more about how offsite modular construction can help improve your costs and your carbon footprint, please get in contact.