Factory-made modular homes can slash the carbon emissions associated with housebuilding by almost half, an academic study has found.
Construction using volumetric modular systems – whereby modular components are precision manufactured offsite – can produce 41 to 45 per cent less CO2 when compared to traditional methods of building homes, the study by the University of Cambridge and Edinburgh Napier University found.
Focused on two residential developments delivered by Tide Construction in Croydon and Gants Hill, London, comprising a total of 879 homes, the study calculated that 28,000 tons of embodied carbon emissions had been avoided thanks to the modular construction process.
The savings are significantly ahead of industry targets with the researchers concluding that the analysis underscores the huge potential of modular construction to “radically reduce the carbon footprint associated with the UK government’s ambition to build 300,000, better quality homes”.
The savings come via a reduction in the embodied carbon of the developments, which includes the CO2 produced during the design, construction, and decommissioning phases of a development. According to the World Green Building Council, around 11 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions are from construction materials and processes, known as embodied carbon.
“The striking results of this study show that the Vision Modular system can significantly reduce the embodied carbon footprint of buildings,” said Christy Hayes, CEO of Tide Construction. “In the UK, modular housing has a huge role to play in ensuring that the government’s ambition to build 300,000 better quality homes per year is achieved faster and more sustainably.
“Modular brings investors, occupiers and their professional teams a great opportunity to significantly reduce whole-life carbon emissions, supporting their environmental, social and governance plans and access to green finance.”
The two schemes involved in the study were completed in 2020 by Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems, with architectural design provided by HTA Design. The George Street development in Croydon also boasts the world’s tallest modular building.
Professor Francesco Pomponi of Napier University, said: “This study is a truly comprehensive and robust life cycle assessment of the modular solution. The analysis of two residential buildings, each highly representative of its height in terms of function, size and height, was conducted in accordance with the latest carbon assessment guidelines, and analysis was based on conservative assumptions and a careful selection of data inputs.”