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Modular Buildings Meet the Criteria

posted: 12th Jan 2010

Chief Executive of the MPBA, Jackie Maginnis, discusses the importance of Modular and Portable Buildings in the 21st-Century.

Sustainability, Embodied Energy, Carbon Omissions and the Reduction of Waste; Clients today are looking to meet this selection of criteria more then ever before. With the need to focus on these particular issues as 2010 fast approaches and, when looking beyond the next 12 months, the importance of identifying the final aims and desires for zero carbon tolerance, off site construction in the form of Modular or Portable buildings could prove to be the answer.

Manufacturers of modular and portable buildings have worked extensively over a number of years to produce a product that ticks all the boxes to comply with legislation. Still today, the technical development involved with suppliers assisting to produce the correct components to achieve these aims is an ongoing process.

Off Site Construction

Progress throughout the last 70 years that the MPBA has been established has been considerable with buildings of all types of design and uses now being manufactured and installed. The construction of structure such as hotels, hospitals, school, offices and even prisons have come a long way since the original modular and portable concept. Traditional buildings are no longer the only option available to meet the ever increasing exacting demands and regulations within the construction industry.

Portable Buildings can best be defined as those made wholly in a factory and then transported for the installation on prepared foundations. The majority of portable buildings can be removed and relocated to a new site while producing little or entirely no waste. Manufacturers produce the ubiquitous cabin in all its various guises; mounted on telescopic jackleg wheels or skids and are used for everything from offices to shops, canteens to classrooms and computer suites to hospitality areas.

In contrast, modular buildings are often larger and more permanent and are produced in modular or slices, bolted together on site in a variety of configurations to produce the clients required accommodation. They provide the most environmentally friendly method of construction and generate less than 10 per cent of carbon emissions and use less than 3 per cent of energy during construction.

System buildings are yet more permanent because they comprise a steel or timber frame, erected on site to which are fixed cladding panels produced by a number of different ‘systems’ or designs.

Volumetric units are defined as factory built modules which are typically residential designs or increasingly sophisticated hotel rooms or toilet and bathroom pods for installation in other permanent buildings.

The leading world Governments today continuously talk about sustainable solutions and what can be done to reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy. There can be no better example of an energy saving construction than a modular building, within which the embodied energy within them is preserved.

In these current times, modular buildings are proving equally efficient if not markedly better than the traditional counterparts, with the added advantage of speed and potentially lower costs depending on an individual client’s specification and requirement. This fast track solution is also enhanced by the knowledge that through this method, the industry will continue to be focussing on reducing waste.

The MPBA is determined to continue its tireless campaign to promote modular construction as a fast, energy efficient and sustainable solution, and uses the skills of the industry to assist and advise on any modular or portable building issues.

The MPBA is fully funded by the members and works for the interest of the future growth and development of the Modular Building industry.

Article by Jackie Maginnis, published in Premier Construction Volume 14 - Issue 2