Offsite construction, in short, refers to the completion of elements for a project in a different location. The components for the building are then transported to the site and assembled into new homes, hospitals, student accommodation or any other type of project that the client requires.
Offsite technology has been hailed as the new 'sustainable' way to build. Construction emissions account for over 45% of all carbon emissions in the UK, making new 'greener' building solutions a hot topic. There are numerous benefits to constructing new buildings in this way, but in terms of sustainability, the benefits can be broken down into five big benefits off offsite construction.
1. Shorter time on site
Pre-fabricating your build results in less time on site, resulting in a number of benefits. Offsite construction methods can cut down on overall time to complete a project by as much as 50%. This not only benefits the client but also benefits the environment with less disruption and an overall cleaner build. Arriving on site with a 90% complete project results in fewer construction pollutants running into local waterways and minimal disruption to the surrounding area. This can have a positive effect on wildlife as construction projects can be extremely disruptive for small mammals, birds and invertebrates.
2. Less waste and traffic
One of the biggest benefits of less time on site is the reduction in traffic to and from the site. This not only lowers the resultant emissions but also reduces issues with current residents. Fewer emissions also lead to fewer air pollutants (air pollution currently results in between 30,000-40,000 related deaths a year).
Offsite projects require fewer deliveries to site, fewer movements on site and overall less traffic for a shorter amount of time.
Another benefit is less waste, with a reduction in onsite waste. As most of the build is created in a factory, most of the waste will be recycled in the factory. This results in a much cleaner site overall and reduces waste products.
Because most offsite construction projects take place in factories, it is much easier to recycle any waste. Some offsite factories recycle up to 94% of the materials that the use.
Because of the move-ability of pods, it is also possible to recycle whole structures. Disassembling and moving a building to a new location for a new purpose in the future reduces waste and allows whole buildings to be recycled.
4. Less energy
Offsite construction projects typically use 67% less energy than traditionally-built projects. This is a massive energy saving for building projects, consequently lowering the carbon footprint of whole projects.
5. Thermal efficiency
When offsite builds use precision-made steel frames, they have the added benefit of thermal efficiency for the whole life of the build. These types of build minimise air leakage and have lower running costs overall. This reduces the long-term carbon emissions of the property, something that can be significant on large modular structures like student accommodation.
The sustainability benefits of building offsite are numerous and are not just regarding the short-term lower carbon footprint. The benefits of offsite extend to the whole life cycle of the project, from conception and the initial prefabrication to dismantling and recycling/reassembling the building.