David Hartley, managing director at MTX, discusses how modular buildings for healthcare are proving beneficial when it comes to supporting their sustainability goals, under the increased pressures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic

Sustainability is high on everyone’s agenda, having been particularly spurred on by the COP26 conference, and the healthcare sector is no different. This is especially the case for the public sector, which is under pressure to support the Government’s green initiatives and the net zero targets.

Modular buildings are a fantastic solution for Trusts aiming to reach sustainability targets. It has been identified that modular buildings have a greater recyclability in comparison to traditional construction methods, as MMC can reduce up to 80% of the waste generated and use up to 67% less energy during the construction process. Additionally, modular buildings are also constructed to meet the higher sustainability standards such as BREEAM.

Enhanced building performance

“Building performance is also enhanced by modern methods of construction. Quality controlled off-site production means that modular buildings are manufactured to more consistently rigorous tolerances than conventional site-based building methods.

“In full-scale independent tests for air permeability, modular buildings can exceed Building Regulations Part L 2010 requirements by up to 70% with no adaptation to the standard system. This means exceptional energy efficiency performance, reduced carbon emissions and lower running costs.”

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David explains how manufacturing choices can be adapted during the modular construction process which can allow Trusts to boost sustainability.

“The sustainability benefits of modular construction are linked throughout in manufacturing facilities. With greater uptake of the modular process, an increase in production efficiency, and a reduced impact for each module produced can be expected.

Carbon reduction

“Offsite manufacturing is increasingly improving, however facilities which have their energy needs supplied efficiently and by renewable energy, can also help to reduce the carbon footprint of offsite manufacturing.

“Similarly, modular and volumetric construction offers benefits in terms of construction and resource efficiency. However, the design process of these buildings also provides the opportunity to improve the life cycle impact by careful material selection and optimisation. The use of timber framing and recycled content in modular construction techniques can make a significant impact in a building embodied with carbon.

“Modular buildings offer clear advantages in terms of the duration of construction, the quality of work performed, and the safety of work. Due to the controlled conditions in which the buildings are manufactured, it is also much easier to control waste in the process, and to design with a view to enabling future deconstruction.”

David Guilfoyle, Director at DSSR, discusses how the drive for sustainability has changed in recent years and the advantages of modular building for healthcare Trusts wanting to be more sustainable.

End-of-life recycling

“Sustainability is constantly evolving and there are various aspects to it such as carbon emissions, embedded carbon, the end-of-life recycling of the building and the community’s wellbeing.

“Building regulations are driving energy and carbon reduction, whilst local planning authorities are also setting targets for new developments. These include set percentages that must be achieved over and above the Building Regulations base case.

“The way buildings are constructed and serviced has evolved greatly over the past few years, with much more emphasis on the green credentials. For example, sustainably sourced materials are the new normal and the use of high carbon fossil fuels is greatly reduced in modern buildings. Additionally, the use of technologies with low carbon emissions and on-site energy generation are more commonplace.

“Modular buildings can be developed to compliment both a Trust’s clinical needs and sustainability aspirations.

“As most of the components are now at the outset of a modular development, the carbon associated with the development components can be manufactured into the process at an early stage when considering things such as embedded carbon and environmental characteristics. This can then be fed into the whole life assessments and any BREEAM elements.

“As the design for modular buildings is completed prior to the commencement of construction, the design parameters can be confirmed up front. The building is being constructed under factory conditions and consequently the tolerances can be set with confidence during the design stage for elements such as building air tightness.

“Additionally, using reusable manufacturing components during construction allows for responsible sourcing of materials to be utilised and monitored in future builds, which can then further enhance the sustainability of modular buildings for healthcare Trusts.”

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