Using Off-Site Construction to Eliminate Waste in Design Phase

By on February 19, 2019

From Modular Building Institute:  The environmental consequences of construction and demolition waste in the U.S. are staggering. With more than 135 million tons of debris to landfills every year, it’s the single largest waste source. [1]  Reducing the amount of waste in a project is an important part of sustainable building and begins with the design process. Choosing alternative methods of construction such as prefabrication, modularization, and off-site construction techniques is an effective way to design out waste — reducing the overall construction waste during construction vs. managing and diverting it after the fact.

Green building efforts for site-built construction focus on reuse, recycling or diversion of waste that is generated on site. With off-site construction, however, the materials can be managed prior to leaving the factory, offering a much more efficient process to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Due to the factory-controlled process, modular construction is by nature material and resource-efficient. One of the great economies of modular construction is the ability to assemble repetitive units in controlled conditions. Another is to minimize material waste associated with conventional construction due to weather intrusion and construction site theft. Whole modular units – largely finished prior to arriving at the construction site – can significantly limit construction waste generated at the site and contribute directly to construction site waste management.

Modular construction capitalizes on the ability to move product in controlled manufacturing conditions, and on tight inventory control and project schedules. It is inherently waste conscious and can have minimum site impact if delivered carefully and strategically with respect to site constraints. In addition, since modular builders work in a factory controlled environment, they can have many construction projects underway simultaneously in one location, so they are better able to re-inventory materials that may have been allocated to one project, for use in another. With site built construction, a general contractor would send any overage to the recycle bin or to the dump.

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