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Modular Construction-sustainable construction method

Modular Construction-sustainable construction method, ©Yashvi Gandhi
©Yashvi Gandhi

Sustainable architecture involves the economic use of resources and reduces the harsh impact on the environment. It is absolutely crucial in this day and age of rapid development and demand that we regulate the use of materials and incorporate green building strategies in the design and planning stage of the structure as a prerequisite to enhance the effect of sustainability. This involves the choice of the site, building materials, plumbing, heating, and cooling, and ventilation systems, and the like coupled with carefully outlining efficient approaches. “Buildings must be an asset rather than a liability” (TIA Architects, n.d.). which must adhere to ecological principles to reduce the environmental impact. One of the significant threats to the environment emerging from the building industry represents the unethical use of materials on the site. Waste from construction; may result in increased loads to the landfills and toxic chemicals can penetrate the soil affecting groundwater sources. Therefore controlling waste and reusing building materials is essential. Industries have taken to improve and advance construction techniques with the help of technology to reduce their footprint on the earth. (Sajip 2019). Modular assembly performs a primary role in sustainability.

Modular or volumetric construction consists of the prefabrication of components of buildings and modules under controlled conditions that can be easily transported and assembled on site. They are either permanent or temporary structures that may be flat-pack or facade systems. (TWI, n.d.) .Those are manufactured offsite. After the design process, Building Information Modelling (BIM) is used to accurately design modules. After which load-bearing building blocks or panels made of steel and concrete that create prefabricated volumetric units are installed on the site to produce adaptable and functional spaces. The design requirements determine

©Yashvi Gandhi

the form of modular construction which is load-bearing modules, or a corner supported module. Load bearing components generally carry loads from the sidewalls of the modules, unlike corner supported modules that transfer loads through edge beams or corner posts. The assembly patterns of the modules provide room to create several configurations by staking the structures or placing them end-to-end. Internal connections tie the modules together (TWI, n.d.). For the more ethical quality of construction and safety factors, the standards for sound modular structures are generally the same or greater than conventional site- built structures. Materials like concrete, steel, and wood can be used to fabricate modular blocks or panels. Modules may include necessary voids to easily install MEP services and incorporate window and door frames. This method offers time and cost-efficiency. These PMC structures are designed and can include as many stories as allowed by building regulations.

©Yashvi Gandhi

The design phase involves meticulous planning and control to ensure the modules are manufactured with utmost precision and assembly tolerances are controlled and ensure any slack or misalignment are; taken up with the help of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) practices with the help of CAD systems, additive manufacture (3D printing), and manufacturing control systems (Sajip 2019). A significant advantage of this type of fabrication is that The elements of modular construction can be reused, such that units are dismantled and reassembled elsewhere, thereby effectively maintaining their asset value. Minimal alterations of modules in modular construction enable them to be disassembled to carry out relocation or reuse of the structure resulting in the reduction of building waste.

Furthermore, controlled methods of fabrication allow decreasing the amount of waste. The need for modern materials is minimized by reusing modules. The material can also be reused thereby reducing the need for new materials minimizing the amount of energy required for the modern structure. These entities are being manufactured to fit the design and transportation specifications. The modular assembly enables Increased Adaptability in present structures by providing room for adjustment without causing excess hindrance to the adjacent property which could otherwise remain an uneconomical process resulting in excess construction waste generation for traditionally constructed buildings. The modules enable a flexible yet rigid form of structure rearranged to shape unique spaces. This method also ensures consistency due to the use of machinery and the repetition of fabrication tasks. Another notable advantage of modular assembly represents the speed of installation. As the modules are being fabricated under controlled conditions indoors, site preparation can be carried out simultaneously saving valuable building time. As the speed of construction is increased, a drastic amount of time is saved which results in cost benefits by minimizing interest charges by the client. A faster installation period also minimizes the disruptions due to construction benefiting the surrounding properties from noise and building pollutants. Allow early and beneficial occupation time to the client thereby reducing management cost, site facilities, storage and accommodation, and equipment. Savings can be achieved because of the reduced number of site personnel (and therefore costs) over the reduced construction program. Modular assembly involves organized and regular working operation conditions resulting in increased productivity with the added benefits of accuracy. The fundamental of modular construction is Controlled operating conditions that protect against the harsh sun rays and moisture in the atmosphere or adverse atmospheric conditions that could result in material damage thereby preventing construction delay. Because of its precise modules, it enables higher-quality structures when compared to traditional construction. Facade cladding can be fixed to the primary modules to reduce time on site. It is equally possible to fabricate lifts and staircases. Prefabricated modules can help reduce the shifting process. The modules must have great structural strength, lightweight, durable, and weather to withstand the transportation process from the controlled space of the factory to the site.

Since the majority part of the fabrication process takes place, offsite, modular construction drastically reduces the impact on the site that would otherwise be caused by traditional construction practices. The process minimizes air pollution since it does not depend upon heavy equipment vehicles that produce excessive levels of carbon dioxide in the transportation process ultimately affecting the quality of air. Developing modules offsite eliminates the need for noisy equipment which would otherwise affect local businesses, the mental health of locals and add to the noise pollution. In addition to environmental benefits, modular construction is safe. The modules are generally fabricated offsite, merely need to be fixed on the site. This process eliminates the need to operate machinery, which reduces workforce congestion. This increases the workforce efficiency from unexpected absences. Moreover, it limits work at higher elevations for longer periods of time. Modular construction additionally offers the potential to adopt energy-efficient measures for instance incorporating windows with low-emissivity coatings, & and HVAC systems (Sajip 2019).

This construction technique minimizes material wastage since the modules are fabricated using precise calculations of materials in an organized manner. This ensures protecting the environment from exploiting resources and reducing costs. There is potential to reuse modules for another structure of a similar type by simply disassembling and assembling the units at a separate site. This reduces the cost of fresh material usage. The controlled environment ensures precision reducing the cost of mistakes during construction. The cost of transportation is independent of the module size. Background testing is essential to can lead to optimizing performance and removing waste. It is cost-efficient to the Clients since the structure is handed over to them early. Modular construction is a sustainable approach that not only reduces the time and cost of construction but also allows to reduce the carbon footprint created by traditional construction activities. Therefore this type of construction ensures greater safety and performance levels with minimal site disruptions such as site traffic, noise, etc. Modular construction allows greater insulation and air-tight conditions with minimal potential for leakage. Since steel is used as the building material it is quite lightweight and has given the structure the benefit to be reused. Allows improved site management and minimal storage facilities required on the site to store materials.

Cost comparison between modular construction & traditional construction



A third-year architecture student who loves to explore the realms of art and architecture. She believes that architects can compose spaces that can significantly influence people’s lives and emotions, like artists. She wants to create sustainable spaces that generate a positive impact on the environment and the lifestyle of people.




TIA Architects. n.d. “Ecological Principles.” TIA Architects. Accessed 03 17, 2021.

TWI. n.d. “WHAT IS A MODULAR BUILDING? A GUIDE TO MODULAR CONSTRUCTION.” WHAT IS A MODULAR BUILDING? A GUIDE TO MODULAR CONSTRUCTION. Accessed 03 17, 21. https://www.twi- building#:~:text=The%20modular%20construction%20process%20is,hig h%20levels%20of%20quality%20control.

EGBC-TW_Sustainable-Modular-Construction-Pros-and-Cons_. 2018. “EGBC-TW_Sustainable-Modular-Construction-Pros-and-Cons_.” Sustainable-Modular-Construction-Pros-and-Cons_Final. TW_Sustainable-Modular-Construction-Pros-and-Cons_Final.pdf

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