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Schools: go green, go modular

Rory McGuigan, of Western Building Systems, explains why modular and offsite building techniques are the environmentally friendly option for schools

Posted by Julian Owen | May 10, 2018 | Sustainability

According to the UK’s autumn budget, modular building will be the Government’s construction method of choice for education by 2019. While the main reason for this decision is the drive to rapidly tackle the school place shortage crisis, it is also in keeping with its 25 year plan to improve the environment. In the plan, published this year, Theresa May acknowledged the need for high environmental standards in new buildings throughout the United Kingdom.

Offsite construction saves energy

By going modular, energy consumption during the construction process is drastically reduced. Because modular construction is a process where entire sections of a building are constructed offsite, energy consumption is considerably reduced compared to traditional building techniques. For example, each fabricated modular building produced by Western Building Systems includes all mechanical, electrical, internal and external finishes. This streamlined approach to construction helps reduce build programmes by 50%. While this approach allows for consistent quality level throughout, it also reduces the amount of time carbon dioxide-emitting machinery is used, in addition to almost eradicating the use of gas-guzzling machinery at the building site.

Modular buildings produce less waste

According to the most recent government data, the UK generates approximately 55 million tonnes of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste a year. This alarmingly high figure has a substantial and harmful impact on the environment. The vast majority of this type of waste can be attributed in part to traditional building techniques that are less precise than offsite modular construction. The advanced technology at the controlled manufacturing facilities where offsite modular builds are constructed help to significantly reduce wastage. For example, at Western Building Systems’ manufacturing facilities, all materials are more efficiently measured, cut and constructed ensuring reduced waste. In addition, obsolete materials that would normally be sent to the rubbish dump are recycled for use in other projects and for different purposes.

Modular buildings are recyclable buildings

Modular builds can be recycled and used for different purposes to meet a schools’ future needs. Modular buildings are easy to disassemble and relocate to different sites, thanks to their pre-fabricated parts. If a building has become obsolete or disused, modular parts can be saved so that they don’t go to waste.

When modular construction techniques become used more often in the construction of schools, the requirement for raw materials for each new project will be substantially reduced. Where classrooms have become disused, whole rooms or even entire floors could be lifted out for use in other projects. In the UK, where more than 125,000 children face missing out on a secondary school place by 2022/23 the innate flexibility of modular buildings could go a long way to support construction companies in their efforts to meet government targets for new classrooms and schools, while also significantly reducing the industry’s impact on the environment.

For more on Western Building Systems, please click visit their website. 

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